Spider Lake-Little Sluice
On July 15, 2004, Eldorado National Forest Supervisor John Berry signed
a temporary order closing the Spider Lake area, adjacent to the Rubicon
four-wheel drive trail, to public use for 120 days due to a public
health hazard. The order closes the National Forest land around Spider
Lake and works in conjunction with El Dorado County’s emergency
resolution issued on July 13, 2004 closing the private land in the
area. The Rubicon 4WD trail is open for through traffic.
This closure was the result of human waste/sanitation issues around the
high Sierra Nevada Spider Lake. The Rubicon Trail has no
sanitation facilities and uninformed users were leaving human waste
dangerously close to water sources. Friends of the
Rubicon (FOTR) has been working with governing agencies for three
years to get sanitation methods in place on the trail, but as of yet,
no good solution has been found.
The Rubicon Trail runs through solid granite areas, with very shallow
soil profiles. The shallow depth of the soils, combined with the
solid granite prevalent throughout the area, make standard toilet
options impractical. Further, because of the serious nature of
four-wheeling required to traverse the trail, standard pumping trucks
and extraction methods are not practical either.
FOTR, as well as other clubs, have been cleaning up the trail and
removing the human waste for years. But this year the trail use
increased dramatically and the human waste disposal became a real
significant issue. There are no designated camping spots around
Spider Lake, it is a dispersed camping area. So campers were
spreading out over a wide area, and camping too close to the lake.
FOTR has launched a major effort to help both the County and the USDA
Forest Service in the management of this increased use of the Rubicon
Trail. It is hoped that the closure can be lifted sooner than the
November 10 date. But for now, the Spider Lake area closed to all
access of any kind. The Little Sluice Box and remainder of the
Rubicon Trail are open as always.
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