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Tassajara Road Conditions

Posted: Fri Feb 05, 2021 10:15 pm
by jack_glendening
After the recent rains, the USFS website put up a notice: "Tassajara Road is currently impassable past the White Oaks Campground due to snow and deep ruts in the road" But is it truly "impassible" currently, since the rains ended some days ago? I went out to see for myself, since it's one of the important wilderness access points.

I found a grader parked at Jamesburg. The condition of the dirt road indicates it was graded as far as the Forest boundary relatively recently - but not beyond. So the road was in good shape up to the boundary.

Immediately beyond, there was a large mud puddle - but currently with some space to go around. Up to White Oaks Campground, ruts became deeper but manageable so long as I stayed on previous tracks. Beyond the campground, however, many large patches of deep show appeared and driving became trickier.

In a 9.5-inch-clearance 4WD "light truck" vehicle (Xterra) with terrain/highway hybrid tires I was able to reach Chews Ridge, but it was a bit hairy - I had to drive with tires in the deep furrows in the snow made by previous vehicles, with the snow in between them up near my chassis. And some experience was required in places, e.g. keeping the vehicle moving where stopping might get me stuck - on steep slopes with snow the tires often slipped noticeably.

Other observations: In places I could see evidence of chain use by previous vehicles. To the side of the tread marks there was often a road-parallel water gully that you definitely need to avoid - at one place it was 18" deep.

Beyond Chews Ridge the road receives much more sunshine and conditions improved greatly: no deep ruts. I reached China Camp to find two vehicles parked there - a Jeep Wrangler (9.7-inch stock clearance) with mud tires and a truck larger than mine also with mud tires (and with Agriculture plates).

The only vehicle I met along the road was an ATV driven by the Church Ranch caretaker.

Personally I would not recommend driving the road currently with a vehicle of lesser clearance than mine until the snow melts some more. And of course always with caution.


PS: should note that when attempting this I did have chains and some other traction gear along, just in case ...