February 12, 2010 (Cleveland National Forest)-- Tuesday's storm dropped 8 to 10 inches of snow on Laguna Mountain and Palomar Mountain--recreation areas that will draw many people seeking to enjoy snow play this weekend. Before you head out for some family fun, however, the Forest Service seeks to ensure that everyone is properly prepared for the trip.
“Most people will certainly remember the typical things, such as warm jackets, hats, gloves and a sleigh,” said Brian Harris, Public Affairs Officer on the Cleveland National Forest, “but it’s the travel to, and from the site that can be a little hazardous if people are not well prepared.”
As snow play has become more popular in recent years, getting to the mountains has become more complicated. Traffic can be backed up for miles along the Sunrise Highway and Highway 79 leading to Laguna Mountain, as well as Highway 76, South Grade Road and East Grade Road that lead to Palomar Mountain. In January, all of these routes were temporarily closed as a result of “snow play” traffic while law enforcement agencies attempted to deal with traffic that was backed up for miles.
Here are a few tips that can help make your visit fun and safe.
• Head out early, but be aware that traffic will likely cause a problem.
• Drinking water, snacks, extra warm clothing, and blankets should be carried in your vehicle for emergencies as well as basic use after play. (kids will likely be soaking wet when finished playing in the snow)
• Bring a flashlight with batteries that is working properly, since darkness does fall quickly over the Forest at this time of year.
• Take along some basic tools like a shovel and reflectors, these will be needed should you get stuck in the snow or mud.
• Don’t forget to bring trash bags so you can take your trash home with you.
Snow conditions can result in closure of some Forest Service roads and state highways over mountain passes. Tire chains may be required. “Winter travelers should carry tire chains at all times and be prepared to spend long periods of time in the car,” adds Harris. “Carry blankets or sleeping bags, a shovel, water, food and other necessities, and always travel on a full tank of gas.”
Snow presently blankets the ground down to around 4,500 feet, but snow conditions are becoming slushy in Julian and Rancho Cuyamaca State Park, Harris confirmed today. For best sledding and snow play conditions, head to Laguna Mountain or Palomar Mountain, he advised.
Visitors to the Forest are required to display the “Adventure Pass” in their vehicles when recreating on the Forest in posted recreation fee areas. Adventure Passes are available at all Forest Service district offices and a variety of vendors throughout southern California at a cost of $5.00 per day or $30.00 per year.
For more Adventure Pass or vendor information please visit www.fs.fed.us/r5/sanbernardino/ap/index.php. Golden Age, Golden Access and Golden Eagle passes are also honored. Have fun in the Cleveland National Forest – it’s yours to enjoy!