Tahoe National Forest (TNF) seasonal trail work finished earlier this summer and fall brings more opportunities for recreationists to enjoy the forest while sustaining natural resources. Activities included trail expansion and re-route projects as well as planning for future trail work.
In early September TNF staff and partners finished building a 2.5-mile-long extension to the popular Butcher Ranch Trail northeast of Downieville, offering mountain bikers and motorcyclists an expanded riding opportunity in very challenging terrain amid a stunning forest setting.
For the past two seasons, numerous volunteers—including motorcycle and mountain bike riders, clubs, and local businesses—joined the effort that a Forest Service trail crew began in 2011. Construction activities began after August 15 each year to protect owls and other wildlife.
Originally about six miles long, the trail that sits under many feet of snow in winter and originated during the mining era has been used by motorcyclists for about 50 years and mountain bikers for the past 15 years. The top of the trail is located near Packer Saddle in the Sierra Buttes area.
Before work could begin, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis had to be completed. The TNF also secured a grant from the California Off-Highway Vehicles Division to offset trail-construction costs.
In addition to individual motorcycle and mountain bike riders, businesses and groups involved include the following: Downieville Outfitters, High Sierra Motorcycle Club, Maier Manufacturing, Inc., Nevada County Woods Riders, No-Toil, Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, and Sierra Motor Sports.
“On a typical summer weekend, hundreds of mountain bikers and dozens of motorcyclists can now experience a longer and more interesting ride,” said Joe Chavez, TNF trails program coordinator. “This group effort made the undertaking possible, and we are very grateful to the many who contributed to this project.”
TNF staff and partners completed another seasonal trail project this year when they re-routed approximately one mile of the Lindsay Lake Trail to mitigate erosion problems.
Located in the Grouse Ridge Non-motorized Area in Nevada County, the multiple-use trail is popular with those who enjoy backpacking, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, packing, and running. Re-routing activities designed to ensure precipitation falling on the trail bed would not cause soil to erode into a nearby stream began in summer 2012.
On a rainy weekend in September, TNF staff and numerous volunteers from the Bicyclists of Nevada County, the Sierra Express Bicyclists Club, and the Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County Foundation gathered to finish the work that helps protect the watershed while still allowing people to use the trail.
“This re-route project brought many folks together to work on a common cause that will benefit both people and the environment for years to come,” said Jet Lowe, a TNF geographic information system specialist who worked on the trail along with other TNF staff.
This summer the TNF also completed an environmental assessment that will lead to relocation of approximately six miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in the Packer Saddle area. The new route will use approximately 1.7 miles of existing non-motorized trail and require approximately 4.3 miles of new trail construction.
The work scheduled to begin next field season will mitigate potential safety concerns; lack of access to good water and camping opportunities; mountain bike trespass; and a degraded recreational experience for hikers and equestrians.
For more Tahoe National Forest information, go to http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/tahoe/home. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Tahoe_NF.
-Tahoe National Forest