Trailwork Report: El Prieto Trail, January 2012

Keenen (front and center) and part of the Day 2 crewAlmost eight months ago, the CORBA was approached by Keenan Koch, a student at St. Francis high school in La Canada, a member of the school’s mountain bike race team, and an eagle scout candidate with troop 355. He wanted to work on El Prieto for his eagle scout project, the closest singletrack to his school. After consulting with Banner Moffat from the Friends of El Prieto and CORBA over the ensuing months, a plan was developed and submitted to the Forest Service.

The section of trail in question was “built” by users blazing their way down the canyon after the Station Fire and subsequent floods ravaged and destroyed the trail.  The original trail through this section was completely obliterated. The resulting user-made trail was on the edge of a cliff that was getting undercut by the stream and was gradually narrowing. It was a hazardous section of trail where several people have reportedly gone over the edge and crashed. It was too narrow and unstable for equestrians, and nerve-wracking for anyone concerned with heights or exposure.

With Forest Service and Boy Scout Council approval, Keenan rallied his St. Francis and San Gabriel Valley Composite mountain bike team mates, fellow scouts, and a few willing parents to come out and rebuild this section of trail.  The trail was flagged out by Banner Moffat and after two days of prep work by him and Steve Messer of CORBA, was ready for the project.

The newly built section of trail, passing between two trees.Initially planned for the weekend of January 21/22, rain forced a cancelation for the work on Saturday. In reality it was a blessing as the dampened earth was much better to work with on Sunday. Crews re-cut the bench away from the cliff edge, filled three substantial drainages with rock supporting walls and rock armoring, and built up rock supporting walls either side of a “split tree,” through which the trail would pass. With 19 volunteers this section of trail, about 45 yards, was restored. An intrepid crew of four stayed on an extra two hours beyond the finish time to ensure the rebuilt section was completely passable for all trail users.

During the course of the work, two generous mountain bikers made on-the-spot cash donations to CORBA’s trail crew fund (and who still need to email Steve for receipts), a sure token of the appreciation all trail users have for the work we are doing. One regular El Prieto hiker has made similar on the spot donations in the past, and came through very much appreciative of how the funds have been applied (new tools and rock slings for the trail crew and for Friends of El Prieto).


The second day’s work was re-scheduled for Sunday, January 29. Thirteen volunteers came out, most of them student athletes from the High School league, and the St. Francis team in particular. Just below the previous week’s work, the trail ran into the streambed, following it for about  50 yards. The crew chiseled a bench out of rock, moving the trail up and out of the streambed onto the rock and dry alluvial wash.  Two stream crossings were eliminated.

Thanks to Keenan for giving back to the trails in such an important way, to Banner Moffat for helping guide the project, and to all the volunteers, student athletes, boy scouts, parents and friends who came out to make the project such a success. Over 180 person-hours were contributed over the two prep days and two work days for the project. The result is a 110 yard section of trail that is less dangerous, more sustainable, and still a load of fun to ride.

Below are some videos of the trailwork in progress.


Day One:

Day Two:


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