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Posted by Sierra on March 15, 2004 at 16:51:03:

Took a group in this past weekend. The road from Ballarat to Briggs is EXCELLENTLY maintained, from there to Goler it is all washboard, but nothing is new on that.

Goler was passable easily with 4WD and decent clearance. One 2WD fullsize F250 truck got stuck and needed to be winched up a spot, only because he had a Coleman tent trailer attached. We had warned him, and he sacrificed a bit of paint to do it, but we got this 15 foot long beast up into the Barker Ranch area. We also managed to get an Acura MDX (grocery-getter SUV) into Barker via Goler, although it needed a winch tug at one spot in Goler. So I'd recommend 4WD with good clearance, or 2WD if you have a 4X4 with a winch or tow strap coming along to help out.

The road beyond Barker toward Butte Valley wasn't bad, 4X4 required, higher than stock clearance recommended. The Acura made it 99% of the way to Mengel Pass, and was parked. The Landcruisers, Cherokees, and Fords finished the trip into Stella's and Geologist's cabins. These two cabins were excellently preserved, stocked well, and clean. A young couple was occupying Geo Cabin for a week, nice young kids with a good sense of preservation.

Barker was a mess. We cleaned it up some, but it needed a thorough sweeping. Lots of rat droppings, very dirty, a lot of disrepair. Most irrigation pipes were dislocated. The bush toilet was mid-full, and some joker had put some rounds through the seat, but it all worked. we re-stocked the T.P. supply with rolls in Ziplock baggies. We left the place cleaner than it was when we got there, but whomever volunteers to maintain this little piece of history needs to visit and help out some. Bring a broom and some trash bags if you go.

It looked as if the park service or some other agency was letting it get bad enough to condemn and bulldoze it. As if someone out there WANTED it destroyed, and did a little bit of damage here and there, over time, so eventually it could be "burned and returned" to nature.

Just my 2 cents on it.

ps, Donna's was closed at the hour we passed through, but looking clean and well kept. We would have liked to have a better look around Ballarat.

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