Tahoe NF, Partners Conduct Fordyce Jeep Trail Improvements and Restoration

Recently equipped with a second Jeep Rubicon modified for “Rock Crawling” through off-highway vehicle (OHV) “Green Sticker” funding, the Tahoe National Forest (TNF) has the capability to better manage the renowned Fordyce Jeep Trail, an extreme rock crawler trail that traverses 12 miles of granite-strewn terrain from Indian Springs OHV Staging Area near I-80, to Meadow Lake.

Two Tahoe NF modified Jeeps on Fordyce TrailFS Jeep hauling rock drill

In June, the TNF teamed-up with Adopt-A-Trail partner Friends of Fordyce (FOF) to create a passible route in the Winch Hill #3 Bypass, which had become more difficult than the main Winch Hill itself, creating a major obstacle for trail users. FOF provided the new bypass concept and dimensions, and the Forest Service used explosives to carve out the new route in the granite wall.

Fordyce Jeep Trail Winch Hill 3 Bypass BeforeFordyce Jeep Trail Winch Hill 3 Bypass After

Bypass before improvements (left) and after (right)

In July, the TNF, through a grant provided by the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division, hired a contractor with a unique piece of equipment called a “Spider Excavator” to conduct restoration and maintenance work on the Fordyce Jeep Trail. The tires on the powerful excavator are attached to independently articulating legs, which enable the machine to travel along the extreme rock crawler trail.

Spider Excavator Restoring User RouteFormer Trail Route now decompacted and closed

Several years ago, Adopt-A-Trail volunteers partnered with the TNF to circumvent the “mud hole” (a 100-foot long and six-foot deep trench in deep organic soil) and other problem areas below Winch Hill #1 by creating a reroute on stable rocky terrain. The Spider Excavator rehabilitated and closed the “mud hole,” along with damaged stream banks and other user-created secondary routes.

With the machine’s hydraulic hammer attachment, the Spider Excavator also improved the bypass at Winch Hill #1 and Committee Trail to make them more passible.

Spider Excavator Drilling Fordyce Trail

For the third year running, in August the TNF joined about 60 other modified vehicles in the 47th annual Sierra Trek event’s Thursday run that traversed the Fordyce Jeep Trail from Pierce OHV Loop to Meadow Lake.  The event provides the Forest Service the opportunity to connect with users and view the needs and issues along the length of the trail.  The recent work conducted on the Fordyce Jeep Trail not only restored sensitive habitat near the trail, according to this year’s participants, it also made the event more pleasurable.

The TNF’s partnerships, and cooperation by all the users of the Fordyce Jeep Trail, are helping to keep this unique trail opportunity available to future generations. Users are urged to:  stay on the designated trail; obey fire restrictions, and; properly dispose of human waste along the trail and Fordyce Creek. Human waste can be properly disposed of by either burying it at least 200 feet away from any body of water and eight inches deep in the ground, or by removing it in a personal human waste bag. Courtesy of the TNF and California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division grants program, free personal human waste bags are available in a dispenser located at the Fordyce Jeep Trail/Pierce OHV Loop intersection, and soon to be located at the bottom of Rattlesnake Road.  Garbage bins are also available for disposing of the waste bags at the Indian Springs Staging Area and bottom of Rattlesnake Road.

Wag bag dispenser at Fordyce Trailhead