Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Off-Road ADV Gem in S.F. Bay Area

Hilltop Vista Looking into Towards the Central Valley
Carnegie SVRA

With a cooling delta breeze blowing this morning, QWR wanted to do an on-site review of an excellent off-road ADV/DS opportunity in the Greater S.F. Bay Area for those new to the sport or those seasoned veterans who want to get some dirt-time without traveling several hours to a National Forest or BLM unit.

Front View of Carnegie SVRA

Located near Livermore, California, Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) is one of nine OHV parks managed by the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division. Those OHV parks are part of the 280 California State Park System units.

Entrance to Carnegie SVRA

Carnegie SVRA is approximately 1,300 acres in size that offers the rider a broad selection of motorized trail opportunities.  The trail ratings range from easy to extremely difficult.  There are hill-climbs, engineered contour single-track motorcycle trails, and wider routes that are more ADV friendly for those riders who want to hone their off-road skills.

One of the Wider ADV Friendly Route

When visiting Carnegie SVRA, be sure and note the numerous and ongoing resource and cultural protection efforts which include, but are not limited to, designated motorized crossings through the Park’s valley riparian area, hillside restoration fencing, and educational signing. 

Designated Riparian Area OHV Crossing

Be sure and check out online information regarding their outstanding wildlife monitoring and mitigation programs.  Also review the many amenities at the unit which include camping, staging areas, shaded picnic ramadas, and a store.


QWR suggests that ADV riders who live in the regional may want to consider a morning excursion to the unit where they can enjoy off-road routes that take them high into the backcountry of the park.

Enjoying the Juniper Trail

There will be plenty of opportunities along those main routes to venture onto more challenging trails where you can test you dirt prowess.

Juniper Trail Sign

When you get on up on some of the many vista points, you will find spectacular views of the Central Valley and surrounding landscape.

Carnegie SVRA might just be the ADV off-road gem (well worth the $5 dollar day use fee) you have been looking for.

*Feel free to download and review the 2017 OHV Commission Report which details many of the ongoing environmental and conservation programs that are key components of the nationally recognized CA OHV Program.  It also highlights many of the federal and county partnerships that are also key to this model program.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Non-Motorized Trails Need Love Too

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

A recent trip to the Pacific Northwest to hike and observe non-motorized travel management prescriptions reminded QWR that off-route travel including shortcuts on trails with switchbacks can present land managers with significant challenges.

Non-motorized travel management becomes even more acute at popular federally designated sites such as National Scenic Areas and National Monuments.  Often these sites are visited by thousands of domestic and international tourists each day. 

Such intensive use can place a stress on agency resources and staff in maintaining visitor services such as day use areas, interpretive centers, and trails.

QWR believes that signs are the most effective (and often the only management tool the public sees) method by which a land agency communicates its commitment to the public and the resource.  And, the quality of an agency’s signing program is directly proportional to the level of user enjoyment, public compliance with regulations, and success of the unit’s mission, vision, and values.

Shortcut Trail - Larch Mountain Trail
Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area

Last week, QWR had the privilege to hike the Larch Mountain Trail up to Multnomah Falls at the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and tour various trails at the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument appears to have a modern signing program that uses a combination of more traditional travel management signs with the addition of more universal or “picture” signs to convey where the public should travel.

Effective "Picture" Travel Management Sign
Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Evidence of illegal cross-country non-motorized travel at the Monument was virtually non-existent which pays tribute to the unit’s management strategy and team.

Traditional Travel Management Sign
Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

The Larch Mountain Trail up to Multnomah Falls was in overall good condition but it appeared that additional measures might be needed to address a number of non-legal shortcuts across some of the 11 switchbacks on the 1.25 miles of paved trail up to the falls.

Effective Sign with Trail Delineator - Larch Mountain Trail

Since this trail literally gets thousands of hikers from various parts of the world each day, QWR believes the unit should consider modernizing its signing program by integrating some “picture” signs that convey the importance of users staying on the paved route.

A "Picture" Shortcut Sign
Mendocino National Forest

This is particularly important since this area of the country has a long wet season where off-route travel can have significant impacts when the soil moisture content is elevated.

QWR has suggested the agency also enhance their signing program by increasing the number of trail delineators (e.g. spilt rail fences, etc.) and consider using woody debris to help camouflage old ghost trails or shortcuts.

The purpose of this article is to highlight the import role that both the motorized and non-motorized recreation community has in helping support sustainable travel management practices on public lands. 

And, those high use areas require more intensive travel management strategies and prescriptions.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Rising Tide Lifts All Trails - Highlight Those OHV Success Stories

Trail Armor and Restoration Projects - Rubicon Trail
Eldorado NF

QWR has long believed that partnerships and collaborative efforts are key elements in any 21st Century OHV recreation program.   Those joint efforts in support of sustainable OHV recreation continue to be the backbone of successful OHV programs in Region 5 and throughout the West.

While OHV management certainly has its challenges, QWR believes it is important for agencies and partners to highlight success stories where new trail opportunities are being created and/or trails are being reopened after mitigation measures are completed that address important resource concerns.

Sediment Catch Basin and Rolling Dip - Mace Mill
Eldorado NF

QWR commends the Eldorado National Forest’s outstanding communication efforts as highlighted in their recent:  42 Route Project Update #7

Link to 42 Route Project Update #7

As this report illustrates, various non-federal OHV grant programs (e.g. state, industry, etc.)  can help support the efforts of federal land agencies manage high-quality and environmentally sound OHV recreational opportunities.

Half Culvert OHV Bridge - Mace Mill
Eldorado NF

The document also notes the California State Park’s OHMVR Division has a grant program that supports their management efforts on the Forest and also shows that OHV recreation on public lands has evolved into a highly complex and diverse, partnership-based “a rising tide lifts all trails” concept.
QWR closes by stating that maybe the single most important factor in modern OHV recreation is the use of diverse partnerships as a synergistic force multiplier when it comes to the management of motorized use on designated roads, trails, and riding areas.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Forest Service Collaborates to Improve OHV Program

Example of FS Road Serving as a Motorized Trail
Mendocino NF

QWR wants to commend the Black Hills National Forest for its continued efforts to provide sustainable high-quality OHV recreational opportunity.  Located in South Dakota, this Forest completed its initial travel management plan in 2010.

As the following Public Broadcast video shows, the Forest Service has worked in a collaborative manner with users and other stakeholders on subsequent post Subpart B trail projects to improve their OHV program.


QWR believes this unit has embraced a holistic approach to managed OHV recreation.   As the video shows, the agency has a “roads to trails” conversion process that utilizes existing system roads to provide varying degrees of challenge and touring opportunities for the riders.

They also install various soil erosion/water quality-related trail structures or construction techniques along with implementing a quality route information program that includes signs, updated motor vehicle use maps, and smart phone route applications.

The video also highlights the important role that OHV recreation has in supporting rural economies and related private sector businesses.

QWR thanks the Black Hills National Forest and other Forests that continue efforts to improve their managed OHV trail programs. 

PS- Thanks to our longtime friend of OHV, Mark Thome, for sending this great info!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Base Camp Adventure Ride in Trinity Alps Region

View from Bonanza King Lookout Road
(Trinity Lake and Trinity Alps in Background)

QWR wanted to close out “June is Great Outdoors Month” with a review of Adventure Bike (ADV) or Dual-Sport (DS) opportunities located on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in the Trinity Lake area. 

Start of trip to Bonanza Creek Lookout

While many long-distance ADV riders are familiar with Highway 3 that runs north-south through the Forest, QWR believes there are additional high-value “one-day” backcountry touring opportunities where recreationists can range out on various designated native surfaced routes that stem off of Highway 3 or its companion road that snakes along the east side of the lake.

Start of Swift Creek Loop

The purpose of this blog is to give ADV/DS riders who are not familiar with this remote area of California some basic concepts for day-long excursions where there will be plenty of scenic views with opportunities for photos of the Trinity Alps and other mountains, tree lined roads, numerous streams, and wildlife.

Road Access to Swift Creek Trailhead

QWR has another goal and that is to reinforce the important role that Forest roads have in providing access to both motorized and non-motorized recreation on public lands.

View from Swift Creek Loop

Staging for this multi-day project was based in the Trinity Center area where there is gas/food and a number of developed and dispersed camping choices at sites managed by private parties or the Forest Service.  There are also several B&Bs nearby for those riders who like that type of lodging.

Dispersed Camping near Trinity Lake

Routes and general areas highlighted with pink markings (see map below) are where you may want to visit.  Besides the views, you will be presented with options to challenge yourself on motorized routes that are identified for use by high-clearance vehicles and OHVs.

Near top of Slate Mountain

QWR has divided the potential adventure routes into four areas which are the Swift Creek Loop, Bonanza King Lookout, Eagle Creek Loop, Scott Mountain Pass, Coffee Creek, and the Clear Creek/Slate Mountain Loop. 

Eagle Creek Campground 

All of these opportunities offer access to some high-quality recreation into undeveloped backcountry areas.  Again, there are many designated Forest dirt side roads that can be explored off of the looped route. 

Clear Creek Campground 

Coffee Creek is a cherry-stemmed route into the Trinity Alps Wilderness with spectacular views of alpine meadows and wildlife.  At the end of the 22 mile mostly dirt road, there is great family style dining at Mountain Meadows Resort.  Be sure and call ahead for reservations if you plan to visit them for a great dinner. Dinner is served at 7 p.m.

View of Trinity Alps from Mountain Meadow Resort

The Shasta-Trinity National Forest has over 5,000 miles of roads and trails that are designed for street legal and/or non-street legal motorized use.  Many of these routes are in the vicinity of your Trinity Lake-based multiday adventures.  

Adventure Opportunities

QWR encourages you to download the current Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) that identifies seasons of use and what vehicle types are allowed on the route system.

Clear Creek Campsites

MVUM for Trinity Lake Area

Like many National Forests throughout the West, this area has a lot of mixed private sector and federal land ownership.  One of the largest private landowners in this area is Sierra Pacific Industries and many of the roads go through their property.  QWR believes it is important to respect private property and only travel on routes that are signed or mapped open for motorized use.

Respect Private Property

Many readers of this forum are already doing important volunteer work for the Forest Service or BLM.  In that vein, it is also important for you to help be the eyes and ears for the agency when ADV riding by reporting back to them with information on road conditions, seasonal gates that might still be closed after the winter, travel management signs that are missing, and campground or other facility maintenance needs. In addition, you can send in comments on ideas you might have to enhance motorized recreational opportunities on the road and trail network. 

Welcome to the National Recreation Area

MVUM Comment Form

Info on Historic Stage Road

This area of California has a rich cultural heritage that helps link us to our past, informs the present, and charts a path forward to our future. 

Historical Marker at Scott Mountain Pass

Please give this area some consideration the next time you get the urge to explore the great outdoors in Northern California.

Here are some links to various camping and dining sites.

Trinity Center KOA

Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Mountain Meadow Resort

Trinity Center Dining

PS- Special thanks to Mike Mitchell (retired FS recreation lead and current officer with the Redding Dirt Riders) for running the base camp for this project.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Adventure to Backcountry Treasure Kicks-Off Great Outdoors Month

Level 2 FS Road - Off of M2

Adventure and Dual Sport motorcycle enthusiasts often ask QWR if it has any suggestions on where to explore new (at least to many riders) remote federal land backcountry areas  with forests, scenic views, access to challenging motorized routes, and high elevation camping opportunities.

Ride Through Conifer Forest

While on a recent multi-day post-winter storm route assessment in the Northeast portion of the Mendocino National Forest, QWR was impressed to highlight and share an approximately 120-mile loop of high elevation native surfaced Forest Service System Roads (designated for street legal vehicles) that provide public access to both motorized and non-motorized backcountry recreational opportunities including the Yolla Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness area.

Map of Adventure Loop

QWR staged from the Stonyford Rodeo Grounds which hosts the annual Oakland Motorcycle Club’s SheetIron Dual Sport Ride.  QWR works with club members to staff the event’s tech inspection where vehicles are checked for sound compliant mufflers spark arrestors, and current registration.

Start of Adventure Loop

For the purposes of this article, the trip starts at Stonyford and continues north on County Road 306 for about 25 miles where the 1st leg of the 120-mile loop begins at the CR 313/306 intersection.  This too is where M9 starts.

Designated OHV Trail in Doe Peak Area

The road quickly gains altitude through a chaparral landscape to the ridge near Doe Peak (elev. 3557 ft.). The Doe Peak area has a number of designated OHV routes that offer varying degrees of difficulty for both street legal and non-street legal OHVs.

Looking West from Valley View Fire Lookout

QWR suggests that you travel a few more miles up M9 and watch for the Valley View Lookout sign which directs you a short distance to the site of the historic Valley View Fire Lookout.  Although the lookout is no longer there, the site gives you a breathtaking view across a “big forested valley.”  You will want to spend some time here taking in the scenery.

Log Springs Station

If you are trying to do this loop in one day, you will want to continue on to the Log Springs Summer Fire Camp.  This is a historic Forest Service fire station where you can stop and enjoy the big trees and shade.

Nome Cult Trail

Also at Log Springs is where the Nome Cult Indian trail crosses the route.  300 Indians from Chico and other northern California Tribes camped at this site in 1863 on their journey to Round Valley.  (see above pic for more info).   It is important to spend time here in contemplation of that event. 

Sugar Springs Campground

Just a short distance to the north of Logs Springs, you will enter the M9/M4 intersection where you will take a left and travel west through a conifer forest.  In about 5-7 miles you will want to take a lunch break at the Sugar Springs Campground.  This high-elevation site is in a stand of large trees.  It has a developed campsite with picnic table and fire ring.  There is also a vault toilet.

Depending on how many side routes you decided to explore, you may want to consider spending the night at this high elevation campground.  I know I plan to come back up here later this summer.

After leaving Sugar Springs Campground, you will travel a few miles to the M4/M2 intersection.  Take M2 north where it skirts the Yolla Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness area.  There are also many dispersed camping opportunities with scenic views of the Yolla Bolly Mountains including Sugar Loaf Mountain (elev. 7367 ft.).

View of Yolla Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness Area

On your 60 mile path east towards Paskenta, the road takes you past many dirt roads that are also open for non-street legal OHVs.   Watch for signs to Cold Springs, Post Pile, Kingsley Glade, and many other interesting sites.

Intersection in Paskenta

There is a small market in Paskenta that sometimes sells fuel.  It would be wise to check with them if you think a gas fill-up is in order.

M4/M9 Connector Intersection

From Paskenta, head southeast about 6 miles on Round Valley Road to the M4 intersection.  Head west on M4 a few miles until you reach the M4/M9 connector route intersection.  Take a left at the intersection and go a short distance to 23N05.  Stay left on 23N05 for about 6 miles until it intersects with M9.  Turn left on M9 and head back down the mountain to CR306 where this journey started.

Forest Management Project along M4

As we alluded to in the first part of this article, this is a very remote and rugged portion of California.  There are basically no services.  Riders have to be well prepared to take on bike repairs, etc.  A good first aid kit is recommended and also a satellite locator that can be used in an emergency.

Enjoy the Ride

QWR was unable to do about a 25 mile section in the NW part of this loop due to a large downed tree across M2 (it was reported to the FS).  Be sure and contact the Mendocino National Forest to see if the roads are clear. 

LINK to North FS MVUM Map (mostly M4/M2)

LINK to North Central FS MVUM Map (mostly M9)

June is Great Outdoors Month and QWR’s adventure bike module hopes some of you might decide to challenge yourself on this loop.  If you go, please let us know how you liked this remote portion of the Forest.  It will be an adventure to be remembered. 

# # # 

PS – This would also be a great adventure loop for those of you with high clearance SUVs and 4WDs.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kawasaki KLR 650 Camo “Trail Recon” ADV Bike Project Report

QWR's 2017 Kawasaki KLR 650 Camo "Trail Recon" Project Build

QWR believes the 2017 SheetIron Dual Sport Ride was the perfect venue from which to announce a long overdue vehicle upgrade to our “Adventure Bike” module.  

Hosted by the Oakland Motorcycle Club, the annual event stages from the Stonyford Rodeo Grounds where approximately 500 dual sport and adventure bike enthusiasts travel on public land routes and county/state paved/non-paved roads from the eastern border of the Mendocino National Forest through BLM’s Cow Mountain OHV Area to the coastal town of Fort Bragg, California.

QWR selected Kawasaki’s KLR Camo 650 for our “Trail Recon” Adventure bike project.  The goal was to build a trail-worthy and dependable bike capable of both single and multi-day long range trail recon trips on Forest Service and BLM lands to inventory and/or assess current road/trail conditions and to analyze routes for future designation recommendations to enhance high quality backcountry access for adventure motorcyclists.

TUSK ADV/DS Crash Guards

The first order of the day was to contact our friends at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC for a set of their popular TUSK Dual Sport/ADV Crash/Engine Guards to protect the bike should it have any unplanned meeting with trail obstacles.  Installation was straight forward.

TUSK Aluminum Panniers w Pannier Racks

 Next on the list was a set of their TUSK Aluminum Panniers with Pannier Racks.  They were ordered in size Medium so as to keep a slimmer profile while still being able to hold tools, tire tubes, first aid kit, BIG BOY Silky Folding Saw, modest camping supplies, and other necessities. 

SW-Motech Centerstand
The folks at Twisted Throttle signed on to help with some cool SW- Motech products to further improve the functionality of the bike with a center stand to aid with tire/tube repairs out in the boondocks.

SW-Motech Skid Plate

Next was installation of the SW-Motech aluminum skid plate/engine guard which helps protect the bike’s underbelly from unexpected impacts from sharp rocks or other hard obstacles.

SW-Motech DAYBAG 600

The SW-Motech Day Bag 600 was selected for those multi-day overnight trips where extra clothes and other gear are needed to improve any overnight stay in the backcountry.

IMS ADV 2 Footpegs and Shifter

Being a fan of IMS products, QWR wanted to add the IMS ADV 2 stainless steel footpegs which offer the rider a large platform upon which to stand.   They are very comfortable and help instill a sense of security.  The IMS shifter enhanced the rider’s shifting ability with adventure boots on.

QWR has chosen to evaluate the bike with the current factory suspension that was recently upgraded.  Having done 450 miles over the last few days on paved and native surfaced roads might have proved to be a wise choice.

Seat Concepts KLR 650 Seat

Over the years, QWR has become a big fan of Seat Concepts and the giant strides they have made in off-road and adventure seat comfort.   Getting one of Seat Concepts' KLR seats was a must have and was put to good use during this recent trail recon ride.

MRA-Vario Touring Windscreen

Another product to help complete the initial build was a MRA-Vario Touring Windscreen from Twisted Throttle.  It deflects the wind stream at highway speeds to just above the visor on my KLIM F4 helmet while allowing an unobstructed view of the trail.

Kawasaki KLR 650 Tank Bag

 Holding small items like cameras, maps, air gauge, power bar, cell phone, reading glasses, etc. was given to Kawasaki’s TRANS TANK BAG.  The padded tank bag has numerous zipped pockets or sections where you can stow items neatly away.  It has a very custom fit and blends in well with the overall “Camo” or Team Stealth concept of the bike build.

Emgo Rear Trunk

Lastly, QWR wanted a small locking trunk so we selected the Emgo Travel Trunk that holds additional small to medium sized items.

QWR believes that riding 450 miles over the last few days on county paved and/or gravel roads and Forest Service dirt roads and trails in elevations from 1,500 ft. to 6,000 ft.  was a good initial test for our Trail Recon Project Build.  The Kawasaki Camo KLR 650 performed flawlessly and got 50 mpg which gives it a range of about 250 miles or so.

Trail Recon ADV Bike on Mendocino NF

All of the products worked in harmony to help create our official Trail Recon Adventure Bike that has been dedicated to help ADV and DS riders enjoy continued access to high-quality backcountry recreational experiences for current and future generations.

FS OHV Route - Mendocino NF

QWR wants to thank our following partners and sponsors;  Kawasaki Motor Corps., U.S.A, Roseville Kawasaki, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC, Twisted Throttle, IMS, and Seat Concepts for their generous support of this project and our efforts to promote and protect responsible motorized recreation on public lands.