[NorCal] Berryessa->Mendocino NF in January

Discussion in 'West – California, the desert southwest and whatev' started by PastRedline, Dec 27, 2012.

  1. PastRedline

    PastRedline Wanderer

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    Hi All-

    This is cross-posted from the "Trip Planning - Americas" section, in hopes of getting some local experience/current conditions...

    I am in the process of route planning for a 3 day adventure that I'd like to take in the beginning of January (1/4 - 1/6).

    This GPX File shows my general plan.

    I intend to ride freeways up to lake berryessa, twisties around the lake to a dirt path through Knoxville OHV that includes Reiff Rd, etc from seavoyage's monthly informal ride in that area. From there, I'll head north on 16, and get back on the dirt up Bear Valley Rd and into "Wintun Camp" around Indian Valley Reservoir that looks nice. The next day, I will basically loop around the reservoir to intercept a route I got that is supposedly tracks from the easy splits of the 2009 Sheetiron. Follow that route up and into Stonyford and around through the national forest over to a campground at Lake Mendocino. For the final day, I'll just cut across 20 to 1 and take a scenic ride down the coast.

    Unless anyone here was looking for something to do that weekend, this is likely to be a solo trip - my normal riding buddies are all busy that weekend.

    I'm looking for feedback on the wisdom of this route during the winter. Rain/Snow weather predictions during the actual trip, or significant storms right before the trip will likely cancel the plan. Since we've already had a fair amount of rain out here, what are the chances that this will be impassable? Is it likely to be snowy? I'm on an F8GS, so not a small bike, but it's on TKCs and I'm somewhat competent with it (I'm not very fast, but I don't get stopped by much and I don't mind picking it up).

    I'm equipped to camp in temperatures down to the low 30's. The high risk bit looks to be the Saturday route, which I've never ridden before and is mostly sheetiron trails - seems like there's some potential to get blocked or have significant delays which could leave me camping in the middle of the forest and making up the difference on Sunday. Since I only have to cover some odd 100 miles that day, it seems doable unless the trails are significantly more technical than expected.

    I appreciate your feedback...

    Thanks,

    -Kyle
    #1
  2. mootsuno

    mootsuno Been here awhile

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    Kyle,

    You should check with the rangers about the Stonyford area.
    Some of the area may be closed after the huge fire there
    last year.

    After Lake Mendocino check into riding Low Gap or Orr Springs Road
    out to the coast. Much more fun than 20. They're both out of Ukiah.

    Also, be ready for snow in Mendo NF. If the weather turns it could
    be a little dangerous up there by yourself.

    It's a nice route just be prepared.
    #2
  3. skwidd

    skwidd where does this lead?

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    It gets back to the high 30's about 9am or so on the route north from Indian Valley, and plan on nights down in the teens through Stonyford.
    Watch for very large and unforgiving patches of frozen solid ground in the shady spots on the dirt roads throughout the area, they put you on the ground very quickly.

    Do it, but not by yourself.
    #3
  4. 666

    666 Agnostic and Orange

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    I,ve been there many times. Most likely you would have to go around the gate on Reiff road.
    Back in 2006, same every year

    [​IMG]

    Other side, close to 16 can be much harder to get around. Gate doesnt have much clearance.

    I was there last time in April on 950. Easy. But muddy can be hell. Mud sucks there.
    #4
  5. SFMCjohn

    SFMCjohn 13

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    Hi Kyle,

    I can't get around the gate at the top of Reiff by myself with a loaded KLR ...

    I avoid the watercrossing on M1 by going along (from Indian Valley) Bartlett Springs to Twin Valley to French Ridge to Deer Valley ...

    Have fun!

    see you around the campfire, :ricky
    -- SFMCjohn
    #5
  6. PastRedline

    PastRedline Wanderer

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    Thank you all for the advice. I'll definitely be checking with the rangers early/mid next week to see what they have to say...

    If the gate's up at Reiff (sounds likely), I guess I'll reroute up 140 -> 53 and then take 20 back out to Bear Valley to get out to Indian Reservoir to camp. Anyone have other suggestions? Seems like I'll be dumping most of the day 1 dirt and just converting it to slab. Not my favorite idea, but if it gets me up there and where I want to be...

    John-

    Thanks, I'll take the route you sent me previously (BARF PM) up to lake pillsbury - that route looks pretty low (< 2500 ft), so it should avoid most of the snowy areas? It looks like I can use the beginning of my Day 2 Route to go up and around the reservoir and then hit your path up to pillsbury.

    I'll post a revised GPX after I have some time to sit and do real planning (not just a google map lookover) again.

    Thanks all, I'm still reading, if anyone has tips or wants to join me...

    -Kyle
    #6
  7. mootsuno

    mootsuno Been here awhile

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    Kyle,

    You might be interested in the Mendo NF Rally in May.
    Here's the thread from last year.

    I'll probably get the 2013 thread started next month.
    Keep an eye open.
    #7
  8. vnsfxr

    vnsfxr BornAgainDirtyRider

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    We have had a lot of rain up here and with this summer's fires you can expect wash outs. The creek/river crossings will be deep.

    All of this is doable in the summer/fall, I would not go solo this time of year as these roads will have very minimal traffic if a problem arises.
    #8
  9. PastRedline

    PastRedline Wanderer

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    Cancelled (or at least delayed) due to adverse conditions reports (including from the rangers). Risk profile just too high for a solo trip. :-(
    #9
  10. skwidd

    skwidd where does this lead?

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    1' of snow on Pacific Ridge between Indian Valley and M5 on Sunday, still fluffy enough to be fun.

    The higher roads northwest from there off M5 were 2 to 2.5' of snow and not passable.
    #10
  11. ridepjride

    ridepjride Migrant

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    Today's ride: Low water bridge flooded at Hwy 16 end of Reiff.
    [​IMG]

    Ran into snow and ice on Bartlett Springs road at 3,000 ft. Creek at south end of M5 is flowing pretty good. Other than snow, a few muddy spots on Bartlett, but passable.
    [​IMG]
    #11
  12. PastRedline

    PastRedline Wanderer

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    ridejpride-

    Thanks for doing the scouting work for me :)
    That doesn't look nearly as bad as what I've been hearing about.
    I assume that the 0 ton bridge was still passable, with just that amount of flooding? Were the gates on Reiff closed?

    Do you have a track you could send, so I can see what path you went through the forest on that was passable. The weather looks good still (cold, but good). If I had people with me, I would definitely be going, but solo through areas I've never been in somewhat unpredictable conditions seems like it may be pushing it. My wife's pretty against it, so if I had to call for help for some reason, it would take a long time to live down...

    -Kyle
    #12
  13. ridepjride

    ridepjride Migrant

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    Don't have a track, kind of old school and use the GPS as a "where am I?" tool instead of "where have I been?".
    I didn't cross the bridge. The east barriers are passable near Hwy 16, the west gate has a fence railing that extends down the downhill side about 20 ft, so there is a bypass trail that turns sharply around the end of that railing. You could probably make it on an 800, but I recommend having someone there when you do. Reiff is a favorite of mine, but typically muddy for awhile after a rain on the shaded side of the mountain. There are 2 ridges it goes over, the one closest to Hwy 16 has the most mud since it doesn't get much sun. The west ridge has the gate that is closed normally from November to May. Up in Mendocino Forest, the snow and ice is getting better every day, as long as it warms up a little during the day.

    OK, you asked, here's the route I took yesterday:
    Hwy 16 north to the end, left on Hwy 20 and immediate right on Bear Valley Rd. Dry and fast all the way to the end, left on Brimm Rd and up the hill to a 4-way intersection (Walker Ridge Rd). Go across the intersection, continuing west on Bartlett Springs Rd.
    Past north end of Indian Valley Reservoir, then you'll see a trail to the right that goes down a hill and seems to end up in a creek that's running pretty good now. That's the south end of M5 (mentioned later). Continue west on Bartlett Springs and you'll see an intersection for Twin Valley Rd (mentioned later), continue and climb to the top of the ridge where I experienced snow yesterday. Tops out at around 4,000'. You'll come to an intersection overlooking Clear Lake, take the left route High Valley Rd instead of the right to Lucerne (lots of switchbacks, pretty boring). High Valley gets muddy this time of year, watch for potholes. That takes you into Clearlake Oaks (left on Hwy 20), I like to eat at the Country Kitchen in a strip mall on the left. Normally go home via 20 to 16, but an alternative is through Lower Lake, left on Morgan Valley Rd which becomes Knoxville Road past the Homestake Mine. Back past Berryessa, blah blah blah.

    M5: The north end ties into M10 near Fouts Spring staging area, west of Stonyford. When it is not so wet (the creek not so full), I like to loop up M5 to Goat Moutain Rd and head down to Ladoga, the south on Leedsville Rd back to Hwy 20. Going up M5 gives a great view to the south, and looping past Wilson Camp is another option to add on.

    Twin Valley Rd: It ties into M10 or an alternate route is French Ridge to Upper Lake. M10 has water crossings and the French Ridge leg gets muddy and has ruts near where the two routes split up. Twin Valley has some areas that puddle over the entire road that can be pretty deep in spots. There's a few water crossings, one that can be deep this time of year.

    Lower Lake alternatives: take Hwy 29 west toward Cobb, then Seigler Canyon Rd to the left. Perini Rd to the left (hard pack dirt), then left on Big Canyon Rd (part paved, part hard pack) to Middletown. Then choose between Butts Canyon / Pope Valley / Berryessa or Hwy 29 to Calistoga / Napa Valley.

    Ride safe, have fun.
    #13
  14. PastRedline

    PastRedline Wanderer

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    Cool. Thanks for all the tips. I'm putting your suggestions into routes so I'll have options when I go (and I have my paper maps too, of course).

    Your routes also agree mostly with what I've already plotted out from SFMCJohn, so it seems like there are options. The weather still looks pretty good for this weekend. Without the threat of impending storm, I just have my own riding/judgement to worry about.
    #14
  15. BeMeUp

    BeMeUp neverlost

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    I was just there riding my Quad and it was a blast. I would not however, attempt it on the 12GS or even my XR650L in the roads current condition. Most (upwards of 75%) of the road has dual ruts 1-3' deep and from 3-36" wide :huh. That which is not rutted, is strewn with baby heads and out right boulders.
    It could be a lot of fun for a couple of highly skilled:deal adventurers on two wheelers, but I wouldn't advise it for a solo trek unless your a dirt god, and even then it's gonna be a long day.

    Also saw foot prints of a rather large, (250-300lbs.) black bear, which adds to the adventure if you were to get stuck or injured out there.
    I love this road and had a great time last weekend . But again, I was on four wheels.
    [​IMG] Bear paws
    [​IMG]

    Rutted up[​IMG]
    #15
  16. slackmeyer

    slackmeyer Don't mean sheeit. .

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    I just wanted to chime in: I've ridden solo quite a bit in this area on those roads, but I wouldn't be doing it right now. There are places on reiff road and low gap road that can get really, truly muddy. Enough that getting a 950 (what I ride) or F8 unstuck by yourself can easily take up half a day. And there's plenty of ice around too. That said, it's probably worthwhile to dip a toe in by riding up to the gate on reiff, and riding a ways out low gap and a ways out sherwood road to get a feel for it. Walker ridge to bartlett springs to clearlake oaks might be do-able right now, or it could end like this:
    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/uqRqtwNhdnVS-KYYlXsVMtMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-mtinuJmMRI0/S1ui3k-FVbI/AAAAAAAAC84/0E-oC6IzuSE/s640/january%252023%25202010%2520ride%2520003.JPG" height="480" width="640" /></a>
    (I turned around about a mile later, when the snow really did get too deep for my street tires).

    Oh, and I wouldn't ride across that bridge, no way, no how. That's a lot of cold water moving pretty quick, with a big drop on the downstream side.

    Have fun out there.
    #16
  17. goldentaco

    goldentaco Been here awhile

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    If you made it up there, I hope you got some breaks with the weather. I ride up there on occasion. I did Reiff Rd. back November and the Eastern side just past the West Gate was pretty tore up. Not too bad...baby heads, ruts...fun stuff.

    I've got a 500 mile route I have done that includes much of your route...Reiff, FH7, Low Gap, Railroad Rd., Bear Valley, Bartlett Springs, etc. You can do it in a day but not this time of year.

    I'm up for a similar trip for a weekend, or day trips through Clear Creek if you're interested.


    J
    #17
  18. Dorsal9

    Dorsal9 Adventurer

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    In case anyone is thinking of heading out:
    From 1/5/13; not much mud on Reiff; only one short greasy section. The picture of the ruts that slackmeyer posted, describes the road to a T. No locked gates yesterday. The 0 ton bridge is above water.

    [​IMG]
    #18
  19. PastRedline

    PastRedline Wanderer

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    Thank you all for the tips and feedback.

    Here's the ride report of what I ended up doing: Basically just Bartlett Springs Rd and I ended up meeting some folks (including ridejpride) so we went at it together. It got interesting in the ice on Bartlett Springs but I had a great time.

    175 in the pouring rain and then in the frozen cold the next morning was also an interesting bit...

    -Kyle
    #19