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- GPX file: https://www.overlandbound.com/map-location/18357
- Track Length: 6.7 miles of dirt.
- Track Duration: ~45 minutes.
- Difficulty Rating: EASY
- Track Conditions: This is a gravel road, well maintained. Narrow in places on the ascent from the north side, keep an eye out for passing places just in case. The outside edge of the road has some erosion in places, and there are markers in place to indicate caution. It seems likely that the road is impassable when wet (note that there seems to be a permanent Road Closed to Through Traffic sign at each end).
- Recommended Vehicle: AWD or 4WD vehicle.
- Camping: Firebaugh 7X Ranch Campground is located on the road. Unclear whether that is open to the public for booking. There is a published phone number: (805) 238-1500. It is unclear whether the BLM land in the area (which is mixed in with various abandoned mine claims it seems) allows any camping. The Bakersfield BLM office manages the area.
This 6.7-mile dirt road runs from Klau Mine Road at the northern end to Santa Rosa Creek Road at the southern end. To the best of our knowledge, this is a county-maintained road running through a mix of private land and BLM land. The adjacent areas to the northern section are part of an EPA ‘Superfund’ site due to extensive Mercury mining at the Klau Mine and Buena Vista Mine from 1868 to 1970. This caused the release of Mercury compounds and Acid Mine Drainage into the water table, impacting Las Tablas Creek and Lake Nacimiento, making the entire area a Superfund site. No public access is permitted to either mine. Mercury levels in the lake are deemed safe for human swimming and recreation, but there is an advisory against eating fish from the lake as fish are more susceptible to accumulating Mercury compounds in their system. Cleanup work is ongoing, the vast majority of the mine buildings (on both sites) have been demolished and removed, and some removal and containment of tainted soils has already occurred.
Here is a link to the EPA site: https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=0903986
Both mines are now off-limits to the general public. Driving through the area is safe, as evidenced by the several residential properties dotted along the road.
Speaking of the road, it is a short but scenic drive! It is mostly gravel, with a reasonably steep ascent to the 2,200 ft summit. The road is signed ‘ROAD CLOSED TO THROUGH TRAFFIC’, but those signs do not appear to change seasonally and we encountered no hard closed barrier, nor was the road impassable in any way. We drove the road in July, but we’d guess that the road could be impassable when wet, given how steep and narrow it is in places. Proceed at your own risk, but judging by the tire tracks, plenty of vehicles travel this road. We drove north to south, the ascent to the summit (2,200 ft) is fairly steep coming in this direction, and the road was very narrow in places. We kept an eye out for passing spots in case we encountered an oncoming vehicle (we didn’t). It’s also used by cyclists at times, be prepared to share the road! The camping situation is unknown (comment below if you have any info).
Scenic views of the Cambria coastal region on the south incline!
There is a location called Firebaugh 7X Ranch Camping (referred to as Fitzhugh 7X Ranch on some maps) at about the halfway point, but it is not clear whether this is available for booking by the public, or if it is a private campsite. Their published phone number is (805) 238 1500. Let us know if you find out any more info!
As noted, there are several BLM plots nearby, we don’t know if camping is allowed and would suggest contacting the Bakersfield BLM Office (who administer this region for some reason):
Phone: (661) 391 6000
Check out the other tracks in our Off The Beaten Track series.
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