Two roads immortalized on Jobst Rides fading away

Today I headed into the Santa Cruz Mountains to look for another newt crossing sign and to find out what was up with Redwood Lodge Road and Schulties Road, both closed by washouts in the 2016-17 winter.

Most cyclist have never heard of these roads. They’re not popular with road riders because they’re either unpaved or pothole city. Mountain bikers don’t ride them because they’re just dirt roads. Boring.

Nice sign. Located on Alma Bridge Road near Soda Springs Road junction.

That left Jobst Brandt, who loved riding them. He had his reasons, mostly because he could check out the Laurel tunnel where the South Pacific Coast Railroad snaked through the Santa Cruz Mountains into Santa Cruz.

These roads were instrumental in helping build the railroad and for hauling out redwood from the Laurel sawmill in the early 1900s.

But today they’re only used by people whose homes reside there.

I turned off on Morrell Road, another goat path ignored by cyclists. It cuts across from Summit Road to San Jose Soquel Road, offering a steep descent and climb, but it’s delightful if you like riding without cars.

Once onto Redwood Lodge Road I saw the “road closed” sign and sped on by. I had tire problems, but more on that in the next blog.

When I reached Burns Creek I found that the road had partly washed out and the county has gated the road. The sign says private property, which can only mean that the county has abandoned the road. The right of way reverts to the land owner. The county website says it’s under review. We’ll see.

Location of the slide that closed Redwood Lodge looking east.

I was reminded of another ride here in August 1982. The road just before Burns Creek was blocked by a landslide. As Peter Johnson braked for the landslide on a steep descent his front tire burst.

But I digress. I continued on up the road and found the section that was closed off in 2017, unchanged. The landslide has not been touched.

I walked my bike up the stairs and headed to Laurel. A sign warned me that Schulties Road was closed a mile ahead. That road had a slipout and now there’s a narrow ledge with a down power line. It too had not changed since my visit in 2017.

Schulties Road slip hasn’t changed since 2017.

I walked across the ledge and picked up the road. Schulties was paved eons ago, but it’s mostly dirt now. I noticed that the landslide I came across in 2017 has been fixed, but a little farther on there’s another small slide, mud oozing across the road. I dismounted again and then picked up the road, in good shape the rest of the way to Old Santa Cruz Highway.

Another small slide on Schulties Road.

It’s sad to see roads go away, especially when they’ve provided so much pleasure. Santa Cruz County has suffered so much road damage in the past three years that it has appealed for more funding, state and federal.

Folk art on paved Schulties Road. Someone has a sense of humor.

I saw a couple of locals walking on Schulties Road, under clear skies and warm weather in the redwoods. I told them that this is probably my last time riding here. It’s been fun.

6 Responses to “Two roads immortalized on Jobst Rides fading away”

  1. Mike Buncic Says:

    Ray I had been on those years ago as well. Surprised to hear how much they had changed. Amazing how remote things got so near to all the crowds.

  2. Ted Says:

    Was up soda Springs & monta Vina last week…. no newts sighted

  3. jamesRides Says:

    I rode the Redwood Lodge/Schulties loop a few times many years ago in search of a few of the tunnel entrances. Schulties had a very constant gentle grade but was dirt/gravel in many places. You can ride a road bike on the loop but wider tires and a front suspension will make the journey more enjoyable.

    I used to ride this loop as a “rain ride” – when the trails were too muddy. Last time I rode it, it was raining, and Schulties turned into a little stream and a mud pit. I was wondering when the hillside was going to slide in on me! Still, good times. (And even back then Redwood Lodge Rd was mostly closed do to slides)

    I’m fairly sure they’ll keep both Schulties and Redwood open. There are too many people living in that area. There has to be more than one escape route (that being Laurel Rd).

    I’m not a fan of opening the tunnels, but I have to say that given there is no access to the other side of 9 from Laurel, it would be very cool if they opened just the Glenwood tunnel. – that would definitely bring some bike traffic through the little town and both of the roads.

    Here’s some information on the Glenwood tunnel, just FYI:

    • Ray Hosler Says:

      I met Derek at a talk in Los Gatos and bought his book. He took up the torch from Bruce MacGregor to keep memories of the South Pacific Coast Railroad alive. As for opening a tunnel, it will never happen. It’s feasible. I suspect only the entrances have debris and the rest is OK. More realistic would be to leverage the planned wildlife corridor subway under Hwy 17 and link up with Glenwood Drive. The wildlife corridor will happen (they’re mostly funded), but nobody seems interested in doing anything more.

  4. Keith Vetter Says:

    Those are some of my favorite biking roads–I took my wife on Redwood Lodge and Schulties about a fortnight ago. Those are great roads because we could ride side-by-side through beautiful redwood forest with little car traffic. The blocked sections were very easy to walk around.

  5. Stella Hackell Says:

    We descended Schulties today. Redwood Lodge appeared to be impassable from where we stood. But if it’s walkable, maybe we’ll try it again. It’s just beautiful.

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