Why is the road closed?

Many ask why the Ridge Route is closed. The reasons are many, however, the roadway being traversable is not among those. Prior to January 2005, the roadway had three gates. One near the Tumble Inn, another near Reservoir Summit, and a gate about 3/4 mile north of Templin Highway. These gates would usually get closed during periods of inclement weather to protect the roadway. The January 2005 storm changed that and we are still dealing with those effects.

Resulting from the immense amount of rainfall, unstable geology, and lack of maintenance, a few sections of roadway gave way, making the road impassable for a time. Other landslides in the area also caused problems for the oil and gas pipelines that cross the mountains on a similar path to the Ridge Route. One such pipeline broke near Pyramid Lake, which came close to spilling oil into the lake, which is a major source of drinking water for Los Angeles. The US Forest Service closed the roadway at that point for an indefinite period of time. Initially, the roadway between the north (Tumble Inn) and south (Templin Highway) gates was under a “forest closure order”, which meant that the public was not only not allowed into that area, but could be heavily fined as well. This was done to allow the pipeline companies the ability to repair their lines without interference. The roadway was at least partly protected during this period, where the pipeline companies were limited as to how large a truck could traverse the road, how long they could stand in one spot, loads were limited, and portions of roadway were also temporarily covered to reduce damage.

In addition to the pipeline repairs, the roadway itself got some needed work done. Using funds and support from the US Department of Transportation, the sections of the Ridge Route that had slid were repaired and repaved using the original methods and specifications. New concrete was poured, which was 4 1/2″ thick, 20′ wide, and reinforced with steel. These repairs, in addition to other work along the road, made the road passable again by a standard automobile. Still, with this work done, the roadway was not opened to the public.

It took a few years, but the pipeline crews finished their work. The forest closure order was lifted, allowing people to traverse the roadway again. The gates, however, were still not opened. The gates remain closed, despite the roadway being repaired. The road is still closed because of land ownership issues resulting from the County of Los Angeles vacating the roadway in 2005. Once these issues are cleared, mostly regarding a land owner on the south end of the road that is claiming the road as their own, the roadway should be opened again.

So, for those that wish to travel on the Ridge Route between the gates, it is open, but not for motor vehicles. Bicycles, horses, and pedestrians are the only ones allowed, for now.

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