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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 CUTRR 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.
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.
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 CUTRR event will be in late Spring of 2020 and we look forward to having you all join us.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.