Rights to Ride PSA from Ranger Paul Hart, Yuba Trails Manager 

Burlington Ridge Trails hotline 530-478-6253 x243 Call for trail status before you drive

The trails in the Burlington Ridge area are now managed under a precipitation quantity basis instead of a fixed seasonal closure. In the past, the trails were closed from January 1st to April 1st each year. 

Monitoring Site Upper Sugar Pine

The Tahoe National Forest Yuba River Ranger District are trying to make the best decisions for local public trails based on current trail conditions. Yuba Trail Manager, Paul Hart, noticed a few winters ago, that conditions in the Burlington Ridge area were dry (actually dusty) in January and February.  As an advocate for the sport and a dedicated trail worker, he saw a problem of our public lands not being open during ridable conditions. Forest Service Trails/Recreations Specialist Joe Chavez had already started plans to use their remote weather station to measure soil moisture. 

We applaud the Yuba River Ranger District rangers on their efforts to maintain our public lands. Proper management will keep the trails sustainable while allowing riders the opportunity to ride the trails when it makes sense. Trail Manager Paul Hart says “ We take pride in our crew and the work the local clubs have done to keep all of these true “hand built, hand maintained” single track trails open on in the best conditions possible.  The Burlington and Downieville Trail systems represent the few trails left in California that are hand built and not tractor maintained.



Across the United States federal land management agencies manage millions of miles of native surface trails and roads that are subject to resource damage from motorized vehicle use during wet weather conditions. In order to provide motorized access to public lands, protect the native surface travel routes and protect hydrologic resources federal land managers must be able to legally open and close these motorized travel routes during the appropriate times and conditions to balance access, opportunity and resource protection.

No Imprint Soil - Burlington

No Imprint Soil - Burlington

Currently, federal land managers typically use one of two options to legally open and close these native surface motorized routes: 1) fixed dates basis, or: 2) a precipitation quantity basis. The fixed dates based open/closed method (i.e. close trail/road on this date and open on this date each year) can lead to either resource damage if the open period incurred periods of heavy precipitation, or limit public access opportunities if the closure period includes long stretches of drier and suitable trail/road conditions. The precipitation based methodologies are more responsive to user access needs/desires, but require an administratively burdensome and time consuming process of creating and terminating official closure orders. This time consuming administrative process is required because federal courts are unwilling to allow federal land management agencies to base programmatic closure orders on non-scientific/data basis for the open/close determinations.

Minimal Imprint Soil Sample

Compacting Soil Sample

Recent soil moisture/condition remote sensing research and development information (Remote Soil Moisture Monitoring for Data-based Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Road Closure Decisions – San Dimas Technology and Development Center [SDTDC] 2014, Appendix A) combined with an OHV wet weather management study/report (Wet--‐weather Management of OHV Trails on National Forests in California,  Poff 2014) Appendix B) can provide a convenient and easy to use remote sensor based process that land managers can use to make legal, enforceable and defensible trail and road open/close decisions that do not require creating and terminating official closure orders. Both of these current studies included development and analysis on the Tahoe National Forest, including at the Burlington Off-Highway Vehicle Area.

Rutting Soil Sample

Deformation Soil Sample

The remote sensing technology designed by SDTDC would be combined with the soil strength/soil moisture relationships and threshold determinations method in the OHMVRD study/report to provide land managers with soil moisture thresholds and remote daily monitoring data that can be used by land managers to base trail/road open or closure decisions. Programmatic open/close orders could then be able to be created utilizing the scientific based data obtained from the remote sensing station. This plan will focus on motorized trails and roads in the Burlington Ridge area.

The best correlation between condition class and soil moisture and strength occurred with the 0 to 2 inch depth measurements. This was the case for all the stations. This was partly because the treads were heavily compacted in the 2 to 4 inch depth.

Monitoring Site Upper Sugar Pine

These baseline values of soil strength and soil moisture define the point where OHV traffic just begins to cause unacceptable damage to trail treads and drainage structures. When soil moisture is at or greater than the baseline value, or when soil strength is at or less than the baseline, the risk of damage to the OHV trail increases.

The soil moisture baseline values for which open/close decisions are based upon for the Burlington Site and OHV system was found to be 37%, which correlates to a soil strength of 185psi. (Appedix C).  Upon on the ground monitoring, the TNF staff found that 38% was found to be a more accurate soil saturation level to determine the open/close status of the system.


Other factors that will be considered include:

  • Predicted forecast for precipitation that would push baseline value into overly wet conditions.  For example, soil moisture is 37% with predicted precipitation in the forecast that would push over baseline value of 38%
  • Predicted forecast for a dyring front.  For example 39% with forecast of dry sunny conditions that will reach the baseline value of 38% during a weekend.
  • Snow drifts that block roads and trails.  These routes would remain closed until snow is melted to prevent resource damage.  This will allow us to keep some routes closed while the rest of the system is open.
  • Non-frozen conditions.  Frozen conditions tend to show dry conditions in early mornings, and wet in the afternoon.



Burlington Ridge Trails hotline 530-478-6253 x243 Call for trail status before you drive


For more information contact:

Paul Hart 
Yuba River Trails Manager

Forest Service

Tahoe National Forest, Yuba River Ranger District

p: 530-478-6253 x243

15924 Hwy 49
Camptonville, CA 95922 


We use cookies to offer you a better experience and analyze site traffic. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.

Stay Tuned

New Products • How-Tos • Racing Videos

No thanks