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The Ranch Road Gate - 2006

Project Description: In the winter of 2005-2006, conflict between local homeowners and outdoor recreationists ignited over use of a well-worn, though illegal, egress route from the base of the Sherwins Range to an adjacent neighborhood, which served as a popular place for skiers and snowboarders to stage their vehicles when riding this popular frontcountry amenity. The area was, and remains, a private holding, whose location had created an impasse between federal public lands egress and the municipally held Town of Mammoth Lakes. When a private motorized access gate was erected across a public right-of-way with the blessing of the Town Council, preventing non-residents from entering the community via Ranch Road, the need to negotiate and legally secure recreation access while protecting private-property rights arose.

Local recreationists secured nearly 800 petition signatures that prompted Town Council to revisit their original action. A cross-section of stakeholders including public, private and political interests met on several occasions to discuss the issue, which ultimately resulted in the the Town Council overturning its original action, and the institution of a public pedestrian right-of-way around the gate that allows recreationists to exit the area legally.

Project Update: This was the issue that catalyzed the formation of MLTPA. Over time, the organization pursued a more comprehensive plan that would provide legal egress not only around the Ranch Road gate, but across the private Snowcreek Golf Course that lies between the base of the range and the residential development as well. The resulting Sherwins Egress Plan, which designates a safe, efficient egress route with clear signage, reflects agreements codified in the Snowcreek VIII Master Development Plan in 2008 and has been maintained by MLTPA ever since.

In 2009, large-scale, community-driven recreation planning for the broader Sherwins area—the Sherwins Working Group—engendered the Sherwins Area Recreation Plan, or SHARP, which will continue to guide the expansion, formalization and programming of year-round recreation opportunities in the area.


Take a winter trip through the Sherwins with this photo essay designed to illustrate a typical Sherwins backcountry adventure.


Have a look at these flyers, which were distributed in support of the petition drive to overturn Town Council's decision to vacate a public right-of-way without a pedestrian easement:

Ranch Road Gate Flyer #1

Ranch Road Gate Flyer #2

Ranch Road Gate Flyer #3


These rough maps were prepared for Town Council to help explain the routes that backcountry users were taking as they came out of the Sherwins:

Ranch Road Gate_SW Mammoth Aerial Map

Ranch Road Gate_Town Council Map Part 1

Ranch Road Gate_Town Council Map Part 2


Photos of the Ranch Road Gate, open and in the wintertime.


There was a lot of press at the time -- read the coverage in The Sheet, the Mammoth Times, and Powder magazine:

The Mammoth Times, 01/12/06

Powder Magazine

The Sheet, 12/17/05

The Sheet, 01/07/06

The Sheet, 01/28/06, p. 2

The Sheet, 01/28/06, p. 3 

The Sheet, 02/04/06 

The Sheet, 08/19/06

The Sheet, 09/27/08


Review Town Council's orginal resolution (December 2005) to vacate the public right-of-way on a section of Ranch Road for the construction of a private gate. Now read the revised resolution passed more than eight months later (August 2006) after a successful petition drive delivered close to 800 signatures in support of a vacation of the public right-of-way of a section of Ranch Road with a deeded public access easement.

Last updated October 3, 2023