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Autumn in the Sierras by John Michnowicz

Slideshow by John Michnowicz: Autumn pictures from various locations and times in the Sierra Navada Mountains. Locations include Arnold, Ca., White Pines, Ca., Stanislaus National Forest, Arnold Rim Trail, Bishop, Ca., and the Eastern Sierra Mountains

Slick Rock Trail Opening

Calaveras County, CA — Jeepers will have a jumping for joy moment Saturday as a popular trail on the Stanislaus National Forest in the Lake Alpine Recreation Area debuts a new stretch.

Located in the Calaveras Ranger District, Slick Rock Road, aka 7N17, has existed for over a century. Used by Forest Service personnel and the public it provides seasonal year-round opportunities for operating 4WD highway legal vehicles. Visitors may also set up for dispersed camping outside of the recreation area where the new reroute meets back up with the existing road to the southern portion of the trail head at Utica Reservoir.

According to forest officials, Slick Rock Road’s importance to the ranger district is reflected in the decision to reroute it in order to maintain public access. Very popular with the Jeeper community, it provides a unique experience due to its setting and features, such as the polished granite formations and draws off-roaders from near and far. It is considered the most technical 4×4 road on the district and the reroute additionally offers three new trail challenges.

Officials accepted public comments through the summer of last year for the reroute project. It was determined necessary for a three-quarter-mile stretch located on private land in order to prevent motorized trespass and maintain through access and OHV opportunities between Lake Alpine and Utica Reservoir. In recent years the private landowner who purchased the impacted adjacent property expressed concerns with traffic volume, security and necessary costly repairs to the trail portion located on the property, especially where utility lines were buried underneath.

During construction, which kicked off in May, the original private property-located section remained open. This Saturday will be the first time the reroute, which is on Forest-owned land, is open to the public. It will also mark the closure of the original stretch. The official ribbon cutting, which is open to the public, is a meet up at the Marmot Day Use Area. It will begin at 10 a.m. and include a barbecue and other festivities. The event is expected to draw county officials, Jeeper clubs and other recreation enthusiasts. Trail users are requested to follow posted signs and call the Calaveras Ranger Station with any questions at 209 795-1381 x 0.

Winter on Ebbetts Pass by John Michnowicz

Video by John Michnowicz: Winter pictures of the Ebbetts Pass Highway, Rt 4, area. Includes Arnold, White Pines, Lake Alpine, Big Meadow, Thompson Meadow, and Cape Horn.