blank 08/06/15 09:31AM 4WD Club, Barrett Lake Trail, Forest Service, Northern California Off-Road Access

North California Access Issues
Barrett Lake trail reopened July 23

Volunteers from the Hi-Landers 4WD Club transported gravel to the Barrett 4WD Trail project site this summer for construction of rolling dips.

The Barrett 4-wheel drive (4WD) Trail, a rugged six-mile off-highway route from Wright's Lake to Barrett Lake, just west of Desolation Wilderness, was re-opened today (July 23, 2015), now that reconstruction has been completed on three segments of the trail to protect sensitive meadows. The Barrett 4WD Trail has been used by recreationists since the 1960s and offers one of the most challenging off-highway vehicle (OHV) experiences in the Sierra Nevada. The trail has a high rating for difficulty and is only recommended for very experienced OHV users prepared for remote travel over large rocks. Motorized travel on this trail is typically at a rate of approximately 1- 2 miles per hour. 

The Barrett 4WD Trail was identified as one of 18 routes in the Eldorado National Forest travel system which needed corrections to comply with the environmental protection guidelines in the Sierra Nevada Plan. These routes were closed in 2012 to complete further analysis and make corrections to ensure the hydrologic connectivity of meadows would not be significantly impacted by motorized vehicle use.

The final work to reopen the trail was completed June 26 to July 1 when Forest Service employees and 19 volunteers from the Hi-Landers 4WD club installed two rolling dips and a culvert to minimize the potential for sediment from the trail to end up in one of the meadows.

Last fall, projects at two other meadow sites along the trail were completed. One involved constructing a short 0.27 mile trail reroute around a meadow and restoration work at the section of trail that was replaced. Near the largest meadow, rolling dips were constructed to divert water that was running down the trail, and three ephemeral stream channel crossings on the trail within the meadow were stabilized by hardening the approaches with permeable materials to minimize sediment entering the streams.

The work was funded by the Forest Service with assistance from a California Department of Parks and Recreation, Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division Ground Operations grant and a Secure Rural Schools Title II grant through the El Dorado County Resource Advisory Committee. The project was implemented by the Forest Service together with two contractors, a Student Conservation Association Leader Crew and volunteers from the Hi-Landers 4WD Club.

The Hi-Landers 4WD Club has a long history of stewardship with the Barrett 4WD Trail. They have assisted with maintenance of the trail under the adopt-a trail-program for many years. In 2013 they provided assistance with transporting materials during construction of the new Barrett Bridge, and with restoration of the Jones Fork Silver Creek crossing that the bridge replaced, which were also California Department of Parks and Recreation, Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation grant projects. During the recent 4th of July weekend, the Hi-Landers cleared logs that had fallen in the trail and did additional trail maintenance work in preparation for the trail re-opening. A ceremony in recognition of the Hi-Landers dedication to the trail is planned for Saturday, August 15 at 10:00 am at the Barrett 4WD Trailhead.

Other routes which have reopened after meadow protection work was completed are:

  • Woods Spur, 10N01B - opened July 7, 2015
  • Mud Lake section of the Carson Emigrant Trail is now open up to Mud Lake, 17E32, and Allen's Camp - opened June 2015
  • 14N39 Richardson Lake Road up to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) -- opened July 14, 2014. A contract has been awarded for repairs to the upper part of the road in 2015
  • 09N08 Stockton Camp Road - opened September 2014
  • 11NY32 47 Mile Road - opened October 2014
  • 16E33 North Shanty Spur - opened November 2014
  • 10N14 Mule Canyon - opened November 2014
  • 10N13 Schneider Camp Road up to the new parking area near the old barn spur road - opened November 2014

For more information about work in progress to reopen additional routes, visit the Travel Management section of the Eldorado National Forest website

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