Richardson Lake Road in Eldorado National Forest reopens to motorized vehicles

The upper part of Richardson Lake Road in the Eldorado National Forest’s Pacific Ranger District is open for motorized vehicle use, after corrective work on the route.

Richardson Lake Road, or 14N39, is on the far northeastern end of the forest and must be accessed via other roads leading from the Lake Tahoe area. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is required to reach the 2.65-mile road, which is used to reach Richardson Lake for camping and fishing, and to travel to the top of Sourdough Hill to enjoy scenic vistas, including a view toward the Rubicon Trail, according to a U.S. Forest Service news release. The route also provides access to the Pacific Crest Trail.

The first phase of work allowed Richardson Lake Road to be reopened up to the Pacific Crest Trail beginning in 2014. Recently, officials said, improvements to the upper part of the road were completed with installation of a rolling dip. A sediment basin also was emptied and enlarged, and rock was placed over areas of bare ground.

“These measures will help prevent erosion and protect delicate meadow ecosystems while allowing recreationalists to enjoy one of the most popular motorized trails in the forest,” district ranger Richard Thornburgh said in a written statement.

The Richardson Lake Trail was identified as one of 18 routes in the Eldorado National Forest travel system that 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 hydrologic connectivity of the meadows would not be significantly affected by motorized vehicle use, officials said.

Other routes that have reopened after meadow protection work was completed:

▪ Barrett Lake four-wheel-drive trail, opened July 23

▪ Woods Spur, or 10N01B, opened July 7

▪ Mud Lake section of the Carson Emigrant Trail up to Mud Lake, or 17E32, and Allen’s Camp, opened in June

▪ Stockton Camp Road, or 09N08, opened in September

▪ 47 Mile Road, or 11NY32, opened in October

▪ North Shanty Spur, or 16E33, opened in November

▪ Mule Canyon, or 10N14, opened in November

▪ Schneider Camp Road, or 10N13, up to the new parking area near the old barn spur road, opened in November

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