Muir Valley Memories
Building Roads for Emergency Access and Maintenance
At the time Rick and Liz Weber purchased the land that was to become Muir Valley, the only infrastructure was a very primitive trail that loggers used to get their equipment in and logs out of the valley. Job 1 for them was to create access roads for vehicles to get to the preserve from an established county gravel road. Job 2 was to build a road from the top rim down into the valley and a road that ran the 2.5-mile length of the valley to provide access for emergency vehicles, when and if needed, and also for maintenance vehicles.
Running the length of the valley floor is the Lower Smokey Fork Branch of Devil's Creek. This picturesque little stream is docile most of the time when crossing it can be easily done with in one stride. However, when heavy rains hit the area, the huge watershed above the valley cannot absorb all the water, and the creek becomes a roaring torrent. The creek overflows its banks and carries away large rocks and trees.
To be prepared for these flash floods, which usually occur about twice a year, the Webers and dozens of fantastic volunteers built robust, concrete-encased culverts and draining ditches.
Besides providing access for emergency and maintenance vehicles, the road gives visitors to the Valley a convenient hiking linkup between Muir's numerous climbing areas.
It took heavy equipment to carve out roads in this wilderness area. A local gentleman, Tubb Spencer, did much of the original construction. Later, Skip Wolfe, a regular climber and prolific Muir volunteer did a huge amount of excavation work with his equipment
After the roads and culverts were built, of course they needed to be regularly maintained and repaired. We bought a Kabota tractor with implements. And over the past 20 years it has seen a lot of use.
In the beginning, the only access through the 2.5 mile long valley was to bushwack, as seen here, or use one of the few crude logging trails.
These culvert pipes look oversized for the creek, but when flash floods roared through the valley, the water level would quickly fill them and rise to over a foot above the concrete roadway!
The 2-mile long road meanders through the Valley, following beside the creek. It provides quick access for emergency vehicles and maintenance equipment. Visitors to Muir find it convenient hiking access to the different climbing areas located throughout the Valley