The Canyon trail winds its way for 1.85 miles along Placerita Creek between Walker Ranch and the Placerita Canyon Nature Center. It makes a great loop with the Santa Clara Truck Trail and Los Pinetos. For many years cyclists have been riding this great loop, and it is a local favorite. It is one of very few beginner- and kid-friendly trails in the Santa Clarita Valley.
In July 2011 the trail was posted closed to bikes with no public notice, warning or input. Law enforcement have been on hand to ticket cyclists who ignore the signs, or didn’t notice them.
The alternative return route after riding Los Pinetos is to ride pavement from Walker Ranch out to the Nature Center and back to the usual parking area. This paved, narrow two-lane road has no shoulder and no bike lanes, and is much more dangerous. There is no alternative easy out-and-back off-road ride for beginners or those looking for an easy ride.
In County Nature Preserves like Placerita Canyon, it is at the sole discretion of the director whether trails are opened or closed to bikes. Local riders have been in contact with the park’s management about the closure, and are working to find solutions to mitigate the concerns that have led to the closure of the trail to bikes.
While it is encouraging to know the County is open to hearing the concerns of local trail users who are directly affected by this closure, to have received no prior official or public notice of the closure has left the local cycling community frustrated and angered. The reasons for the closure were unclear, though environmental impacts to Placerita Creek were initially mentioned. However the trail remains open to equestrians who have much more impact than bicycles. Trail user conflicts seem to be the real reason, though to our knowledge no specific injuries or instances have been cited.
CORBA has long argued that excluding a user group from a trail only leads to further division among user groups, whereas including all users helps bring the trail user community together to find solutions. As the local cycling community works with the County to find a reasonable compromise to re-open the trail, cyclists should avoid riding the Canyon Trail and obey all posted signs in the area.