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paulmbowers

Mason Valley Truck Trail

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For years, Mason Vally Truck Trail was one of those routes where some riders would easily circumvent the gate on Sunrise Highway to ride down to the desert or over to Banner Grade. It's a great trail, very scenic. Recently (a few years ago) the fencing surrounding the gate was extended to prevent non-gate traffic. AND! The property was added to the Anza Borrego State Park system.

I recently (with he help of Bagstr) opened and email dialog with the park service about access to that road. I was pleasantly surprised with he candid, transparent and informative responses I received, and I'll post them here. PLEASE don't hound the ranger further about this- their cooperation is important.

Here's the content, sent to the general ranger email address on their website:

Hello Rangers and thank you for your service!

 
Will you please confirm receipt of this message and, if you must forward, please include me in that process so I might directly interact with the person in charge of this area? Thank you.
 
My friends and I regularly ride our street-legal, license-plate equipped motorcycles in the Anza Borrego State Park. We enjoy and respect that privilege, and are always cognizant of the park rules regarding off-limit riding areas, not extending trails, etc. 
 
We’re old retired guys, not hooligans ; )
 
We’d like to enjoy the legal use Mason Valley Truck Trail, which Google Maps suggests is in Julian, California, east of San Diego. I’ve provided a screen shot of the area.
 
We’re aware the Mason Valley Truck Trail is within the park boundary, which means it’s a legal and accepted trail; we wouldn’t be technically violating park rules by riding on that road. We know it’s a legitimate right-of-way- it’s named on both Google Maps and our GPS maps, and there’s no private land claim.
 
However, there is a locked gate at the intersection of Mason Valley Truck Trail and Highway 79. We realize it’s improper to circumvent the gate- it would require riding on wild areas- clearly out of bounds.
 
We would like to operate our street-licensed and properly insured motorcycles on this road. 
 
How can we do that?
 
Is it legal for us to access Mason Valley Truck Trail from the desert via The Rodriguez Spur Truck Trail as I’ve indicated on the second attached graphic? 
 
Is the locked gate legal? What is the function of that gate? It appears to control a public right-of-way. There are a lot of tracks going through the gate- appears many trucks are accessing this road on a regular basis.
 
Would we be legal beginning our ride via Rodriguez Spur Truck Trail and riding up to (not around) the gate at Highway 79, then turning around and returning east to Rodriguez Spur Truck Trail?
 
We’re trying to do the “right thing” here, and hope to hear back from you soon.
 
Thank you for your consideration!
 
 
 
 
 

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Hi Mr. Bowers,

 

Thank you for your interest in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.  I have attached 2 copies of park maps to help illustrate where you can legally ride and what is hiking only.  

 

Mason Valley Truck Trail is hiking only from Highway 79 to the Pacific Crest Trail intersection (approx. 1.5 miles) and has locked gates on both sides.  You can legally access the dirt roads from S-2 using Oriflamme Fire Road or Rodriguez Canyon Fire Road and loop around using Chariot Canyon Fire Road.  Chariot Canyon Fire Road will also take you out to the bottom of Banner Grade.  As you can see from the map, both Chariot Canyon Fire Road and Rodriguez Canyon Fire Road will take you out of the State Park.

 

Please let me know if you have any further questions and thank you for reaching out.

 

Sincerely [redacted]

Mason Valley Truck Trail-1.jpg

Mason_Valley_Truck_Trail-2.jpg

Mason Valley Truck Trail-3.jpg

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Hello, Mr [redacted], and thanks so much for your reply! 

 
It’s very helpful and I appreciate both your description and the maps.
 
Since this is the internet and email often may be misinterpreted, I want to be clear about these questions- I’m not arguing, only seeking clarification. Think of my tone as jocular and full of good humor, not confrontational and hostile, OK? Thanks ;  )
 
 
There are a large number of vehicle tracks in that first 1.5 miles of the Truck Trail. I can see it from the gate. That stretch is accommodating a fair amount of vehicular traffic- is it possible to acquire the same permissions those vehicles have to use that section?
 
Are specific areas designated for camping along that section of trail? We not only ride motorcycles, several of my friends hike and camp. I’m unsure why; I like hotels and warm, comfortable beds, but I’m awfully old. I hike when my bike breaks down.
 
Are there opportunities for the public to offer input regarding the use and restrictions of this particular area? Town Hall type meetings or regularly scheduled Brown Act planning sessions open to the public?
 
When a right-of-way is designated a “Truck Trail” what does that mean? The section in question is obviously and regularly used for vehicles- wide two-track with a wide vehicle gate (not a tiny wilderness trail), and is on maps as an official road (without restrictions) of some sort. It’s been accessed by vehicular traffic for many years. How and when is the access to the right-of-way determined, and how is the classification or status officially changed? Is that classification under the jurisdiction of the Park Rangers or local law enforcement? Is there a public process to changing that designation?
 
Again, thanks for your prompt and comprehensive reply, and I appreciate your patience with my relentless questions. I want to ride legally, and I honor and appreciate the privilege of riding in the park. It’s an amazing public resource and I’m a big fan and supporter of the Park Service.
 
P
 
 

 

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Hello Mr. Bowers,

 

The vehicle tracks on the first 1.5 miles of Mason Valley Truck Trail should only be from authorized state vehicles.  I know the equipment operator has been grading in that area, State Park Rangers patrol for illegal trespassing, and I believe the trail crew has been doing some work on the PCT. 

 

Below are the specifics rules, which can also be found on our website regarding overnight camping.  http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=638

-The entire backcountry area of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is defined as a camping facility.  Occupancy by the same persons, equipment, or vehicles of any camping facility within Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is limited to a total of thirty (30) days in any calendar year. 

-Along all park designated dirt roads, vehicles must be parked no more than one (1) car length off a given road where it will not disturb any natural features.

Mason Valley Truck Trial is closed to public vehicle access for a couple of reasons.  The first reason is CalTrans requirements for ingress and egress on Highway 79 is costly.  CalTrans will require California State Parks to actually build a turn lane off of Highway 79 and even then there are some questions if there are proper lines of sight for oncoming traffic. 

 

The other reason for the gates to remain closed is during the acquisition of the property The Nature Conservancy (TNC) required California State Parks to keep the area closed to public vehicles.  The 1.5-mile section of dirt road is open to hiking and mountain biking.  It is my understanding the department has looked into developing areas within Mason Valley Truck Trail, for increased public vehicular access and day use, however the ingress and egress on Highway 79 was a problem.

 

Please feel free to contact via my cell [redacted] with any further questions.

 

Thanks

 

[redacted]

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1 minute ago, Uncle Champ said:

Good info, I'm still not happy about it. Close close close, lock lock lock, gate it right now, build more barriers.

Frickin dogooders.

I'm ok with some areas being off-limits to riding. I understand and appreciate sharing use, and know a lot of hikers who'd prefer motorcycles didn't exist. I sure wish Mason was open (it probably should be) but don't really want them to build a turn lane on the highway to accommodate that.

I'm also pleasantly surprised at how much of the ABSP remains available to us, especially when I see some of the abuse other off-roaders do. There's a LOT to enjoy out there.
 

It's my intention to continue the dialog and hopefully establish a better relationship with my contact there. The off-road community could do more to make nice with the powers that be.

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Condition of Land Transfer.  Well, it was their land.  I would like to Hike in from S-1 sometime this winter.  

         🚶‍♂️

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1 minute ago, Bagstr said:

Condition of Land Transfer.  Well, it was their land. 

While I'm no expert on this, I suspect TNC acquired the property, then "turned it over to the park service" with those conditions. What that suggests to me is TNC did not want the property tax liability (and other expenses) of owning the property, but wished to create some specific controls over its use in perpetuity.

That (if true) is an interesting way to manipulate the system. In my old-time logic, if you wish to control a property, then buy it and control it. That goes for any historic conservation stuff as well. Old buildings that organizations like SOHO wish to preserve? Let SOHO buy and preserve it. If I buy it, I want to do whateverthehell I want with it. But once it's turned over to the public, the public gets to decide its use.

Granted, if I were MrRichandpowerful and owned Mason Truck Trail but wished to avoid the costs associated with owning the land, I'd turn it over to the park service with the understanding it would be OK for riding in perpetuity.

So I can't complain too loudly, right?

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The Nature Conservancy.  "Conserving nature" just may preclude certain types of activity ( in their minds).  Dealt with a few conservancies and they are pretty protective of the use of the land. If it were secured through a mitigation requirement, (bought by a developer then transferred to the Conservancy for maintenance and monitoring) the Wildlife Agencies may have also had a say in the uses allowed.

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Part of their (THC) business plan is to purchase private property and donate it to public agencies with conditions of use. This is one way they meet their primary objective...to close more land to off road enthusiasts. I don't consider this a good thing. They have more money to close down more lands than we have to fight it. 

With that said, the explanation about why there is no access at the gate makes perfect sense. Caltrans following standard protocol and the matter is at least clarified now. Thanks.

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6 minutes ago, Oracle said:

Part of their (THC) business plan is to purchase private property and donate it to public agencies with conditions of use. This is one way they meet their primary objective...to close more land to off road enthusiasts. I don't consider this a good thing. They have more money to close down more lands than we have to fight it. 

With that said, the explanation about why there is no access at the gate makes perfect sense. Caltrans following standard protocol and the matter is at least clarified now. Thanks.

Part of their (THC) business plan? Is this a Freudian slip by my retired law enforcement friend? 

  • Haha 1

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40 minutes ago, SoCalMule said:

Part of their (THC) business plan? Is this a Freudian slip by my retired law enforcement friend? 

Probably an autocorrect issue from all the post-service online ordering.
 

His device now makes assumptions. 

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Some of Us, don't ride street bikes and thus, Not an issue.  😎  Just Kidding, Bowers does care. 

No, Really,  Mason Truck is an excellent route and should in any rational world be open to Two Wheels. Alas, we live in a world of limited mental resource which can not encompass multiple issues. This is not about party, simply the inefficiency of public ownership. If this was Private Land, there would be 5 acre Parcels with a serious Locked Access ( Private, Wealthy only need apply). Take your pick; Possible future access or Lost Forever to access.  Think of La Jolly Shore. WTF is up with private ownership?

   Bagstr Out

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2 hours ago, Bagstr said:

Some of Us, don't ride street bikes and thus, Not an issue.  😎  Just Kidding, Bowers does care. 

No, Really,  Mason Truck is an excellent route and should in any rational world be open to Two Wheels. Alas, we live in a world of limited mental resource which can not encompass multiple issues. This is not about party, simply the inefficiency of public ownership. If this was Private Land, there would be 5 acre Parcels with a serious Locked Access ( Private, Wealthy only need apply). Take your pick; Possible future access or Lost Forever to access.  Think of La Jolly Shore. WTF is up with private ownership?

   Bagstr Out

I was thinking well all on my own until McDonalds started writing "Contents Hot" on their coffee cups...Damn.

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15 minutes ago, SoCalMule said:

I was thinking well all on my own until McDonalds started writing "Contents Hot" on their coffee cups...Damn.

Actually- the McDonalds case is an interesting one, and while much scorn has been heaped on the plaintiff, if one examines the case she was 100% correct. A malfunctioning coffee machine superheated the contents beyond the ability of the cup to contain it. 


She was right. She was right all along.

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Nice to see a civil conversation between two "opposing" sides.  Good for you to present "our" case so well, Paul!

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9 minutes ago, simicrintz said:

Nice to see a civil conversation between two "opposing" sides.  Good for you to present "our" case so well, Paul!

Thank you.

And I don't really see them on an "opposing" side. I think they have legitimate compromises to make, and while I don't "get my way", I can appreciate they try to strike a balance.

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7 hours ago, paulmbowers said:

  The first reason is CalTrans requirements for ingress and egress on Highway 79 is costly.  CalTrans will require California State Parks to actually build a turn lane off of Highway 79 and even then there are some questions if there are proper lines of sight for oncoming traffic. 

Never looked at it that way but they make a good point, That's a hot spot w/ the bend and the hill no visibility

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44 minutes ago, paulmbowers said:

Thank you.

And I don't really see them on an "opposing" side. I think they have legitimate compromises to make, and while I don't "get my way", I can appreciate they try to strike a balance.

Perhaps opposing was not the best choice 🤐  I guess I could just see that there could be two different interpretations and you went in with civility and humor in an attempt to create a dialogue.  While you may not have got your way (yet!), I sense a respect on both sides.  Many could learn from this approach! 

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39 minutes ago, simicrintz said:

you went in with civility and humor in an attempt to create a dialogue.  

I do try, thanks.

Civility is one of my "things" and sometimes I get it right.

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1 hour ago, kato said:

Never looked at it that way but they make a good point, That's a hot spot w/ the bend and the hill no visibility

+1------  I never got around to riding my Mtn  Bike their . I need to do that . 

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1 hour ago, kkug said:

+1------  I never got around to riding my Mtn  Bike their . I need to do that . 

Actually I don’t think you can legally. Only hiking allowed. 

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To be less controversial, has any one thought about how people with disability's, ( can't hike distances ), or allergies ( can't be around horses ), are shut out of vast areas. Has any one else thought of disability approved  motorbikes? Maybe something along the lines of old Honda mini bikes, maybe even battery powered.

I have often thought this could really get some traction with the right lawyer and enough money.

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