Valley News -

Access to national forest limited after storm damage to mountain roads


Last updated 2/16/2019 at 12:02pm

IDYLLWILD - Hikers, off-roading enthusiasts, and other outdoor types will not be able to access parts of the San Bernardino National Forest in Riverside County on Saturday, Feb. 16 or the rest of the Presidents Day holiday weekend because of road closures in the aftermath of this week's whopper storm.

U.S. Forest Service rangers said the impact to state Routes 74 and 243 have led to a number of popular spots being declared off limits.

The USFS visitor center at the San Jacinto Ranger Station in Idyllwild will be closed, and trails going into the San Jacinto Wilderness from Idyllwild and Pine Cove will not be accessible to visitors either, according to agency spokesman Zach Behrens.

He added that the Bee Canyon off-roading area and outdoor shooting range also will be unavailable because of the closure on the 74.

"As the situation is fluid, the public is urged to keep checking Caltrans' Quickmap at for new closings over the weekend and beyond,'' Behrens said.

Four sections along Highway 243, which stretches 30 miles between Banning and Mountain Center, coursing through the national forest and the middle of Idyllwild, sustained major damage during heavy downpours and runoff Thursday. A portion of the two-lane highway near Lake Fulmor completely collapsed.

On Highway 74, the roadway gave way at the Strawberry Creek overcrossing between Mountain Center and Valle Vista. Other sections also fragmented or were washed out, according to Caltrans.

A 15-mile segment of the 74 is closed to all traffic, while Route 243 is closed to through travel, with only Idyllwild-area residents and business owners being permitted by the California Highway Patrol to use those portions of the mountain highway that are still deemed safe.

A contractor has been hired to begin emergency repairs this weekend.


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