Liebre Mountain truck trail is a trail that is no longer suitable for trucks. Storms from a couple years ago left a large number of washouts and the forest service simply can’t afford to repair them. It is suffering a fate similar to that of Warm Springs road/Templin Highway. Soon the damage will be so great that repair becomes out of the question. The trail will be limited to two-wheeled and foot traffic.

I accessed the road from the western end. To get there I headed up I5 until I got to Hwy 138 and took that east a few miles to the Old Ridge Route into the national forest. Past the point where the county no longer maintains it, Ridge Route quickly becomes a jarring mixture of potholes in asphalt and occasional sections of smooth concrete.

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This road was very well laid out. About 1200 feet elevation gain in 3 miles with no super steep places. Even I can hike this all day.

The Ridge Route itself is a bit of cultural history. A long time ago it was the only way into Los Angeles from the San Joaquin Valley. Businesses grew up along it. Today all that remains are a few foundations and some plaques mentioning what was once there. The original speed limit was 15 miles per hour. Today I would not recommend going much faster if you value your shocks. About 5 miles past the National Forest sign, it too is gated off due to road damage that nobody is willing to fix. The county gave the road to the forest service who has neither money nor interest to repair it. The southern easements now belong to the private property owners whose property the road goes through.

Roughly three miles past the National Forest sign, you come to the Liebre Mountain road. The short stub that is still driveable calls for high clearance but a standard 2 WD vehicle should make it with caution. Otherwise just park at the bottom. At one time this road was paved and a very popular recreational area.

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Not very promising for a wheeled vehicle.
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Yup. There’s a gate here. Motorized vehicles are not supposed to go past here. But where there’s a will, there’s a way around the gate.

There is an inholding within the national forest with an active ranch (Knapp Ranch). Those people have a key to the gate. Their trucks go right at the intersection. Going straight just means they’d have to back down the hill maybe a quarter mile because of the washouts.

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This is the turnoff to Knap’s Ranch
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The trail to the inholding wanders miles off into the distance
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The road is definitely washed out. It was about a mile up. Motorcyclists have taken the metal originally meant to hold the embankment in place and repurposed it as a bridge. No four-wheeled vehicles past here.
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And that is not the only washout I encountered.

It was COLD up there. Temperatures were in the lower 60s that day with gale force winds from the south near the summit. That brought cold moist air in from the ocean. Lower elevations were overcast with drizzle. Another example of a microclimate. When the wind flow is onshore it is cool and moist. This is called “May grey” and “June gloom” locally. As the wind climbs, the temperature naturally drops until it reaches 100% humidity and produces a thick cloud layer which blocks the sun and may even yield drizzle. Above that level, it is still cool but the sky is clear.

When it is going offshore, the wind is coming in from the Mojave. The Mojave is 2-6,000 feet in elevation while most of the people in the LA basin are at 1000 ft. or less. Already hot from the desert, the air undergoes compression heating as it loses elevation and gets funneled through various passes. We call them “Santa Ana winds”. Triple-digit temperatures and gale force winds are common. They desiccate everything and drive our monstrous wildfires out here.

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This cloud is at eye level, sailing past at a high speed.  The upper left corner was a little vortex spinning around counterclockwise.
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Perfect example of a microclimate. North side of the mountain is green and lush, especially when it is protected from the east as well. At one point the elevation causes the temperature to drop to where a pine forest can grow. South facing slopes have chaparral, barren patches and scrub oak.
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There are flowers if you care to look. These are desert poppies.
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Looking down you can see the twisting road you’ve just hiked up. In the upper right, you can see the Old Ridge Route winding off in the distance towards LA.
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Temperatures were in the low-60s with about a 30 mile per hour wind. But you could shelter in the lee of a California live oak and feel very little wind at all. I did and fell asleep. When I awoke it was quite warm. A few steps away and the wind chill drops to about 50.
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Am I the only one who thinks that the old windows desktop should have had shrubbery on it?

I had the trail completely to myself as I knew I would. I worked on my all over tan. Nobody parked within miles of the trailhead. Noon in the middle of the week would have no bikers up here. They come out after work and on weekends. The camera I had with me failed so I ended up using my cell phone. Quality isn’t as good and the color is shifted slightly to the red but it served its purpose.

Must come back up here again someday. But not today. Local high was 103. It would still be in the mid-90s at this elevation.