March Update – Part 2

Due to the ongoing crisis, our events are on hold. We will resume our Clean Up The Ridge Route (CUTTR) 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 CUTTR. 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.

December 2019 Update – Part 2

On December 21, 2019, a small group of us took a drive over the Ridge Route. Unlike most trips since January 2005, this one wasn’t predicated upon the gate hopefully being open for us. This time, we had keys. As a part of our Volunteer Service Agreement, we were given a key so that we can access the roadway for our CUTTR projects. This trip, while also sightseeing and enjoyable, was also to survey the roadway and determine if there are any sections needing work first. We did find a few sections in need of repairs or clearing but overall the roadway was in pretty good condition.

Opening the north gate.
Between Kelly’s Halfway Inn and Reservoir Summit
Covered in dirt and mud. These are the sections I would like to clear, on the north grade for Reservoir Summit.
Bad section south of Reservoir Summit. This may be the first section we clear.
Area at Reservoir Summit where we can dump excess debris we clear.
Not bad for 100 year-old concrete.

We cleared a few rocks here and there along the roadway, mostly for clearance issues with our vehicle. The only place that required a bit more work for us to pass was at Swede’s Cut. It wasn’t unexpected as most trips along the Ridge Route involve clearing rocks there.

Swede’s Cut before we cleared the rocks and debris.
After clearing at Swede’s Cut.
Closing the south gate.

Overall, the trip was a success. We found the roadway to be traversable and in decent shape, under the circumstances it is in. Work is necessary at multiple locations and will be monitored regularly. Our first CUTTR event will be in late Spring of 2020 and we look forward to having you all join us.

December 2019 Update

Greetings all,

Finally, really good news. Last month was just “good news”. Now we’re on to really good news. Our Volunteer Service Agreement with the Angeles National Forest was finalized on December 11 and is now in effect. We will be getting a key to the gates within the next week.

Assuming weather and roadway conditions cooperate, I plan to make my first visit on the road, past the gates, on December 21st. The plan is to come from Sandberg and head to Castaic. It will be a lot of fun and an adventure. Yes, plenty of photos will be taken and posted. I haven’t fully traversed the road since about 2009 or 2010 at the latest.

With this agreement finally in place, we can begin to move forward with our portion of the physical preservation of the roadway. We are looking toward late Spring 2020, likely in early May, for our first volunteer event. Over the next few months, we will be making regular visits to the Ridge Route to assess what section we will work on first. I figure, as the road has been mostly inaccessible for so long, that a location within the closure would be best. As it gets closer, we will finalize a date for the first event on the road. All the information regarding these will be posted here as well as on RidgeRoute.com and SoCalRegion.com. Subscribe to this site, available on the right, to keep up to date with events and information on the Ridge Route.

Beyond getting the agreement and key, the roadway is still closed to motor vehicles between the gates. We are still working with the Angeles National Forest to open the road and get it properly maintained. Our maintenance events are meant to be supplementary, not primary. Our work will at least help keep the roadway in place as much as possible for the time being.

November 2019 Update

Finally, some good news! While it is not finalized at the time of this writing, our Volunteer Service Agreement is nearing completion. We got a copy today to review and so far, things look quite promising. We will also be getting a key to the gate, which means we will have access to the road. My first act, after getting the key, is to do a preliminary survey of the road to assess the general condition of the roadway and determine what needs to be worked on prior to the upcoming rainy season.

What this means is that we are planning to do work on the Ridge Route in late Spring 2020, after the rains have subsided. Details on this event will be posted once we get a bit more information together and work out what the event will entail. The agreement does have a few stipulations, mostly regarding how our events will be held and what we can do during them. One of those is that we need to give a list of all attendees prior to an event, as such we will be expecting all persons attending to let us know before they attend.

So, things are looking up for the Ridge Route. Work is still in progress regarding Forest Service maintenance, right-of-way, and land ownership issues. Those will take a while but I have confidence they will be resolved in due time. In the mean time, plan on going on the road in late Spring 2020 and prepare to work!

How can you help our cause?

The Ridge Route, a roadway that is one of the most important to California in the 20th century, needs your help. How can you help? Write, or otherwise contact, your representative in Congress, California State Legislature, be they in the House, Senate, or Assembly. Contact the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors as well. Tell any and all of them how you feel about the problems the roadway is undergoing. Once we get our volunteer agreement in place, you can also help with the roadway maintenance, which will help keep the road there for the future.

If you have additional questions, please contact us. We can use all the help we can get. The louder the voices, the more we will all be heard.

October 2019 Update

Greetings all. I know it has been a while since there has been an update. Things are progressing, slowly. We are actively working with the Angeles National Forest in obtaining a Volunteer Agreement, which will allow us to get back up there and work on the road. Details of the agreement are still in the works but we should be getting some details in the next couple of weeks. We would have had them last week, but the Tick Fire, Tick Branch 10 Fire, Saddleridge Fire, Val Verde Fire, and a few others have been distracting the forest service as of late.

With these fires in mind, so far the Ridge Route has been unaffected for the most part. Two fires, started along I-5 by cars, did burn toward the Ridge Route a mile or two north of Templin Highway. These were thankfully not during a high wind event, which allowed them to be put out sooner. Please use extra caution in ANY portion of the forest or wild lands during this time of year. We haven’t had any real rains yet, the vegetation is very dry, and the winds can be strong. Gusts today were recorded at over 60 mph at the top of the San Gabriel Mountains above Santa Clarita. Winds in the past have been recorded at near 100 mph at Whitaker Peak, which is just north of Violin Summit where Templin Highway crosses I-5.

Once we get our agreement in place, after this devastating fire season is over, I am hoping to get things going again on the road. Depending on what the agreement allows, I am looking to do a survey of the state of the roadway between the gates. Photos and information will be posted as soon as they can. Ridge Route work parties will also commence, hopefully sometime in 2020.

Opening the roadway is still a work in progress. Many steps need to be taken before it can happen, unfortunately. Funding for maintenance, getting the road back on the maintenance schedule, land ownership issues, and personnel issues all need to be resolved prior to opening the road. All of them are surmountable and many have the support needed. We will keep fighting to achieve our goal of getting the road back open to travel, even if it means the road is open in a limited capacity.

August 2019 Update

Well, its August 2019. The concrete on the Ridge Route is at or over its 100 year anniversary. For its age and all its gone through, it is still in pretty good shape in many places. Others, not so much. Those, at least south of Reservoir Summit, have been mostly corrected. I haven’t had an opportunity to traverse the roadway from there to the Tumble Inn, but reports from others and a review of aerial and satellite photography seems to give good news on that front.

We are still working with the Angeles National Forest to solve any right-of-way issues and to work toward getting the road opened. One of those items is via volunteer work. When we reach that point and start to plan work parties on the road, we will need your help and support. More information on that work, as well as how to join us, will be posted here when the time comes.

In April, we received the information we had requested from the Forest Service regarding the 2010 paving at the southern end of the roadway. What we got was quite helpful and explained a few things. The paving was done, for better or worse, in an attempt to help preserve the original paving. A long section of concrete was also poured, using the original specifications, to replace a section of roadway that had been lost to landslides in the recent past. While we applaud the Forest Service for doing this, we can only do so with apprehension. The Ridge Route paving is a large part of the historic aspect of the road. Rarely is the roadway itself the piece of history. A wholesale repaving of the roadway would destroy what is there and leave little for the public to enjoy in the future. Repairing and repaving small sections, when necessary, is acceptable to a point. We plan to work more closely with the Forest Service to make sure such paving is done with the proper care and understanding this road needs.

Below are some photos of the road work from 2010, taken by the Forest Service and the contractor. A link to the contract itself can be found here – 2010 Forest Service Rehabilitation Contract.

Paving at the northern end of county maintenance where the original Warm Springs Road intersects.
At the southern Forest Service gate
Repairing the dike and drainage pipe north of the Forest Service gate
Paving over 1919 concrete

June 2019 Update

On Monday, June 10, Michael Ballard (myself), Harrison Scott, Dave Omieczynski, and Richard Valot had a meeting with representatives from the Angeles National Forest. They included Jerry Perez – Forest Supervisor, Justin Seastrand – Environmental Coordinator, Ricardo Lopez – Road Engineer, and Jamahl Butler – District Ranger. Our meeting, which was held on the Ridge Route near the southern end, was to discuss a range of topics regarding the road. We initially met at the Ridge Route and Templin Highway where we made introductions and briefly went over the meeting details. From there, I led the group with my sportbike up the road to the southern gate. At that point, we discussed the land ownership problems and the 2010 paving, which we believe will help us with our goal of getting the road reopened.

After our discussion, they opened the gate and I led the group on a tour of the Ridge Route from the southern gate to Reservoir Summit. The initial plan, however, was to only go about four miles north to see the recently reconstructed section of road. Each stop, the USFS people decided to go a bit further. We didn’t mind this at all! Along the way, we made stops at some of the sections of the roadway that had been repaired as well as some of the historic sites along the road, such as the National Forest Inn site. At each major stop, Scotty brought out his books and showed photos of the sites.

Section recently reconstructed about 4 miles north of the south gate. Looking northerly.
Looking southerly near the end of the reconstructed section.

Once we got to Reservoir Summit, we had another discussion regarding the state of the roadway. Overall, it was in very good shape with only a few areas needing more immediate attention. Many sections had been resurfaced and we did make it clear that we didn’t want to see a wholesale repaving of the roadway for the sake of preservation. They seemed to understand this. After our discussion and hike to the reservoir, we all headed back to the southern gate to finalize our meeting.

Just south of Reservoir Summit.

The meeting was productive and positive. There is still a lot of work to be done, but they were willing to help and to work with us. Instead of a Memorandum of Understanding, we may be entering into a Volunteer Agreement regarding cleaning drains and such along the roadway. They also stated they would do additional research regarding the land ownership issue at the southern end of the roadway. In regards to opening the roadway, there is still no estimate on when it will reopen. Another concern is roadway maintenance, which we may be able to help defray with volunteer effort. There are still additional issues that need to be addressed but we at least have a better understanding of what the Forest Service sees as the problems. One of them, overall condition of the roadway and ability for vehicles to travel safely, I tried to prove by using my sportbike. If I can go on the roadway using that vehicle, most everyone should be able to pass over it safely as well.

Only time will tell if this meeting was truly successful, but I believe it was. I will give additional updates when we hear back from the USFS in the near future.