October 2020 Update

2020 is rapidly passing us by, it seems. We had hoped to be at our 3rd CUTRR by this point, preparing for another. Those are still on hold. Hoping now for early 2021, depending on many factors. The biggest is the closure on the Ridge Route until December 31, 2020. Please keep this in mind before traveling up there at this time. The roadway is closed at this time regardless of the gates being open or not.

Signage at the south end of the Ridge Route near Templin Highway.

As a part of the Lake Fire preparations, the Ridge Route was used as a contingency fire line. This resulted in brush and rocks being cleared from the entire roadway from Sandberg to Templin Highway. Much additional work is needed to be done, such as clearing drains and a whole lot of other debris from the roadway. One culvert, just south of Kelly’s Halfway Inn, is badly damaged and the roadway is washing out at that point. This is the reason we need to get up there and do our work. Hopefully the Forest Service allows us to at least get some work done prior to the rainy season. Being a La Nina year could at least be advantageous for us in that regard.

Badly damaged Culvert #53 near Kelly’s Halfway Inn

In other news, one initiative I’d like to get started is getting Historic US 99 signage along Ridge Route Road and Castaic Road in Castaic. Having that signage there would attract more interest in the roadway and promote the town. This is still very early in the planning stages, and doesn’t supersede our efforts to get the road open.

Holding up my Historic US 99 sign at the south end of the Ridge Route (technically the road to the right, Neely St) in Castaic.

Remember, if you’re interested in following our work, just click on the “Subscribe” link to the right side of the screen to get updates from this site. You can follow us on Twitter (@ridgeroute99) and Instagram (@ridgerouteorg) as well.

Forest Closure Order

The Ridge Route, from State 138 to Templin Highway is now under a Forest Closure Order due to the Lake Fire, which is set to expire on December 31, 2020. As such, travel along the roadway and any activities along it are prohibited. Please take heed of this as the fines can be pretty steep.

For further information and specific details, please use the link below.

Lake Fire Forest Closure Order 05-01-20-06

Lake Fire Update

Currently, the Lake Fire is at 31,089 acres and 70% containment. Unless something dramatically changes, it looks like the Ridge Route will be safe from this fire. There is, however, another issue which we will have to clarify with the USFS. The area is now under a Forest Closure Order, which is set to expire at the end of December 2020. As such, the roadway and any activities along it may be prohibited. For further information, please use the link below.

Lake Fire Forest Closure Order 05-01-20-06

Lake Fire

From the USFS Inciweb site – Updated 8/20/2020

As I am sure some of you are aware, there is a large fire burning in the mountains near Lake Hughes. This fire has been slowly burning west toward the Ridge Route. Whether or not it reaches the road remains to be seen, but hopefully it does not for many reasons.

Should the hills around the road burn, it would dramatically increase the chances for mudflows and debris covering or damaging the roadway. At a time when maintenance is at a low, this would not be good. There are also items of historic value that are flammable in the vicinity of Sandberg, which would also be preferable not to burn or otherwise be destroyed. The historic Knapp Ranch is also at risk and the fire is slowly getting close to it.

We have been monitoring the situation and will survey the area once the fire is over. Presently, the Ridge Route is closed from State 138 to Pine Canyon Road due to the fire as are other roadways in the area.

For updated information on the fire, visit the USFS Inciweb site.

Late July 2020 Update

Not much to report. I recently sent a letter to the Angeles National Forest, which we have confirmation they received, to get more information about ongoing issues.

Two of the issues were regarding the gates. Now, as has been stated here many times, we want them open. While we have keys, we don’t really want to “need” them. However, with the gates being left open by others or being damaged, it tends to hurt our cause more than help. If the gates are open when they aren’t planned to be, why help to open them?

There is also the issue with a section of roadway being undermined by a So Cal Gas pipeline. We have brought this to the attention of the Forest Service and are hoping they will be able to get the company at issue to resolve the problem, all without damaging the paving at that location. A potential funding mechanism for continued maintenance of the roadway is also going to be discussed. We hope that this may resolve many of the problems that seem to keep the Forest Service from opening the roadway officially.

Once we hear something more solid, I will give an update here. Until then, we shall continue to monitor the road when possible and keep pushing the Forest Service to open the roadway to motor vehicles. The Ridge Route is a treasure that must be kept in good repair and able to be enjoyed by all.

July 2020 Update

So far, Summer 2020 isn’t shaping up to be what, well, many of us hoped it would be. Things are still moving at least, just a bit slower. We are still working with the USFS to get repairs done and get the utility companies to repair any damage to the roadway they have caused.

Just north of Kelley’s Halfway Inn

In late June, a group of board members took a trip over the Ridge Route from Castaic to Gorman to assess the roadway. To be honest, there was a lot of good news along the roadway to be had. Since the last of the major winter storms have passed, it looks like the roadway has not suffered any major damage. Most of the roadway, with little exception, was easily traversable by a standard automobile. Some sections needed a bit more maneuvering but were still quite manageable.

Section being undermined by a natural gas line on the slope below.

The date for our next CUTRR event is still unknown. We are presently waiting for the USFS to give us the green light for volunteer events. As it stands, August is likely out for sure. We hope to have something done before the rains begin, but we shall see.

Other ongoing projects include getting the roadway opened, replacing the signage at the markers, and setting up a YouTube channel are progressing, just slowly. The markers won’t be replaced until the roadway is opened. Funding for opening and maintaining the roadway is still unknown at present. The current crisis, health and budgetary, may well impact this more than we’d like. I feel it only delays it. We will push for legislation to force the roadway to be opened if need be.

The gates are still closed and locked. If you find a gate open, do not expect the other to be open. Travel is still restricted to non-motorized travel beyond the gates.

June 2020 Update

Well, June is upon us. Summer is fast approaching. While things have been on hold due to the current situation, we are looking to the near future to restart things. Depending on many factors, we would like to hold a CUTRR event sometime in late August or September. With the coming budget issues all levels of government are going to have, getting the road opened may be a lot more difficult. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but only time will tell.

I am hoping to make another inspection run over the road sometime later this month as well. I haven’t seen how the road is doing since the last major storms of the winter season. I suspect that most locations held up fine but there are a few in particular (one near the south end of Reservoir Summit grade) that I will look into in more detail.

Not much else to report so far, though. I am working on updating and adding more information to this site in my spare time. So far, I’ve been working on a few pages that focus on our current projects and goals. Keep watching the site for more updates!

Thank you all for your continued support and interest. We look forward to seeing you out on the road at one of our CUTRR events in the near future!

March Update – Part 2

Due to the ongoing crisis, our events are on hold. We will resume our Clean Up The Ridge Route (CUTRR) events once things settle down. Hopefully, we can have one before the summer heat arrives. Our Ridge Route inspections will still continue unless there are further developments.

The Ridge Route itself is another issue. While the gates can be open on occasion for various reasons, the roadway is still officially closed. Once the roadway is officially open, we will make an announcement here, in addition to whatever the USFS does. As this is still the rainy season, please keep off the roadway during and after a rain storm. The roadway is fragile in places and driving it when the soils are wet can damage the roadway.

Thank you all for your continued support. We look forward to seeing you out there when we are able to hold an event again.

March 2020 Update

Things have been busy with the RRPO lately. Last month, I posted a request for a new RRPO Secretary. It didn’t take long to get a candidate. On Thursday, March 4, the board met to vote on this new secretary as well as a few other administrative issues.

So, we’d like to welcome our new RRPO Secretary – Richard Schwartz – to our board. We look forward to his help in keeping the Ridge Route in good repair and getting it fully open again.

We have also finally settled on a date for the next CUTRR. It will be held on April 25th, starting at 10 am. The meeting location is TBD as well as additional details regarding any requirements will be announced soon. If you’re interested in joining us, please let us know beforehand.

An event, which is also a fundraiser for the RRPO, is coming up this month. A trail race run, called the Ridge Route Ultra, will be held on Saturday, March 14. The event will go nearly the entire length of the roadway, from near Martin’s to near Neenach.

On Saturday, April 4 at 7 pm, I will be giving a presentation at the Ridge Route Communities Museum regarding the status of the Ridge Route and how others can help. For more information regarding the museum, click here!

As to the roadway itself, the gates are still closed, though the northern gate has been compromised. The USFS is aware of the problem and it will hopefully be fixed somewhat soon. The southern gate remains closed, so through travel is still not possible. A section of roadway, at the south end of the Reservoir Hill grade, has been undermined by pipeline work. Unfortunately, it is also a section which has nearly pristine concrete. We are working with the USFS to get this corrected as soon as possible. The northern end of the roadway, from the Liebre Maintenance Station to Sandbergs has sections of asphalt that are degrading. Hopefully, we will be able to get some patches repaired, which will go a long way to protecting the remaining sections.

February 2020 Update

It has been an interesting time on the Ridge Route. So far, the monthly trips on the road have been quite productive. Over the weekend of January 18-19, I took a couple of trips up to the Ridge Route. On Saturday, I went by myself and took my motorcycle over the road as far as Reservoir Summit. It felt good to be back up on the Ridge. I used to spend many days up there just getting away from things. The road is quite peaceful and relaxing. Being able to stop anywhere to take photos was also nice. Few roadways of this caliber allow for this sort of privilege. Visibility was also good that day, which made for some nice photography.

View from just south of the National Forest Inn, looking toward Reservoir Summit and Liebre Mountain.
On the south grade of Reservoir Hill.

Sunday, I took another trip over the road from Castaic to Gorman with a friend. We took his car which, despite some clearance issues, made it over the road with little problem. I hope that, in light of these trips demonstrating the ability for various vehicles to traverse the roadway, that the USFS will open the roadway sooner than later.

Swede’s Cut, still holding up well after some of the work that RRPO did last December.

I was pleased to see that the road was holding up well, within the gates. I did find a few more culverts that were in need of clearing near the site of the largest 2005 landslide. Those will be dealt with later this year. Outside of the gates, particularly on the northern end between the Liebre Maintenance Station and Sandberg is a real mess to say the least. Some of the sections can be easily dealt with using a broom and a shovel. The parts that are more heavily damaged will be a lot tougher to deal with. Those sections, comprised of the 1920’s asphalt, are disintegrating and are in need of new asphalt to hold things together. We will be talking to the Forest Service on ways to do this.

Section near the bottom of the south grade of Reservoir Hill that is being undermined. This is likely by pipeline work, which will need to be remedied as soon as possible.