We made it through 2020! So in celebration, let’s go on a little tour of the Ridge Route!
The road has been closed since the Lake Fire but is back open again (well not the whole thing, but back to what was open before the fire). Here’s a little tour of what’s what.
You’ll exit the 5 at the 138. When you get past Quail Lake, the Ridge Route is on the right.
Stop 1 – Sandberg’s Summit Hotel
Sandberg’s was a joyful place… if you sit quiet, you can feel the excitement and good times still floating through the air. It was a high class place, with one of the higher pricetags at $2.50 to $3.50 per night. I know, it sounds like nothing nowadays! A sign reading “Truck Drivers and Dogs Not Allowed” made it clear – they were catering to the higher class travelers.
It started as a 1 story cabin and expanded to a grand 3 story hotel and cabins with running water and electricity. Known for its large fireplace – spoiler alert – that ended up being the demise of the hotel. Sandberg’s was famous for a few things. Apples being a big one! You wouldn’t be able to tell now, but it was surrounded by apple orchards planted by the Harald Sandberg. The fine “Sandberg’s Mountain Apples” were fit for a president… or two… as they were given to both Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt as inauguration presents.
When the Ridge Route was bypassed, the hotel was sold. The hotel lived a few different lives after that – grand tales that seem to be unconfirmed. There’s talks of prostitution, gambling, a Nazi spy. I could write about this place all day but we have places to go!
Stop 2 – Liebre Summit
Talk about a view! This spot is the highest point on the road at 4,213 feet above sea level. One of my favorite spots for a picnic. Not too much crazy history here, just a beautiful spot. There is, however, what looks to be a memorial with the name “David” on it…. I have yet to track down who David is but if you know, please send me a message!
Stop 3 – Granite Gate
A pretty cool rock formation along the Ridge Route. Rock on either side, as you pass through this “gate”.
Stop 3 – Horseshoe Bend
I wish I had actual pictures of this area… usually I get distracted and look towards Reservoir Summit at this point… whoops! Horseshoe Bend is a relatively tight turn on this road. It must’ve been fun to see the cars sweep around towards you from across the crevice.
Stop 4 – Liebre State Highway Camp
Believe it or not, this road was carved out of the mountains by mule teams pulling Fresno Scrapers. The mules, their handlers and the construction crews lived up at this camp during the construction of the road. It seemed to be ongoing as it was constantly being upgraded until the Ridge Route Alternate was opened in 1933.
The Final Stop – The Tumble Inn
Our final stop on this tour, as well as my favorite on the north end of the Ridge Route – The Tumble Inn. I adore this site. The iconic arch of The Tumble Inn stands proudly. The Tumble Inn was once a garage and hotel, then later a hiding place for a family fearing war. All that’s left now is a stone wall and the arch. It’s a beautiful sight as it appears driving around the curves of the Ridge Route.
There was once a Richfield gas station, garage and restaurant. The words “Tumble Inn” etched into the concrete steps. Beyond these concrete steps used to be cabins for guests. There are water pipes peaking out of the ground.