Vetter Mountain Trail to Open May 5, 2017

After more than two years of dedicated volunteer work by CORBA and MWBA volunteer sawyers, we’re happy to announce that the Vetter Mountain Trail, near Charlton Flat in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, will be open to the public this weekend.

Our volunteer sawyer crew has been cutting downed trees off the trail, clearing brush, and working to reopen the heavily-damaged trail. It is in one of the most badly burned areas of the 2009 Station Fire, and thousands of trees killed in the fire have been falling since then.

Vetter Mountain Trail, May 2010

We surveyed the trail for the Forest Service in 2010, the year after the Station Fire. The area had barely begun recovering and would need several more years before work could begin. Vegetation had to grow back, hillsides stabilize, and standing dead trees would fall to the ground. Intense poodle dog settled in not long after, increasing the hazards.

October 2015 we began volunteer work, needing to first clear the trail corridor as best we could, and in many cases, locate the trail. CORBA and MWBA Chainsaw crews began the heavy work. Sawyers have cut well over 100 trees that fell across the trail, and dozens more on the roads to access the trail, in ten days of chainsaw work over the last year. We cut back brush that was choking off the trail, and reopened the corridor. Three times over the past year we cleared the entire trail of downed trees, only to return months later to start again.

Volunteer Sawyers begin work on Vetter in 2015

Earlier this year, hot shots fire crews were able to fell most of the largest standing hazard trees, reducing hazards along the trail corridor. The rate of trees falling is slowing down, especially since the big windstorms of this past winter. Numerous dead trees are still standing, and will continue to pose a hazard for some time, much like many other trails in the recovering areas. Be especially aware if you’re on the trails in a burn zone during high winds or bad weather, as dead trees are especially prone to falling in these conditions.

Volunteers on National Trails Day

Last Saturday, at our urging, the Forest Service scheduled the annual National Trails Day volunteer project on the Vetter Mountain trail. Volunteer Crews from Coca Cola, MWBA, CORBA, JPL Trail Builders, Angeles National Forest Fire Lookout Association, National Forest Foundation and many other groups and individuals proceeded to re-establish tread and cut back brush. Sawyer crews chainsawed a dozen or more trees from the trail. Sunday, CORBA volunteer sawyers returned to continue cutting the remaining downed trees from the trail.

Today, Thursday May 4, the CORBA team will return to put some final touches on the trail, remove the last remaining obstructions, and officially remove the “trail closed” signs in preparation for the trail’s opening this weekend.

The Vetter Mountain trail has been closed for 8 years. It is part of the classic and much-loved Chilao Figure 8, a popular mountain bike loop that includes the Charlton Connector Trail, Vetter Mountain Trail, Mount Hillyer Trail, connecting fire roads, and the Silver Mocassin trail. It has been missed, and will be enjoyed once again!

Once lush with majestic conifers, and known for a series of switchbacks, followed by a flowy descent along a drainage, the trail looks much less apocalyptic than it did on our first survey in 2010. The area is recovering, but it is still within the burn zone, and will look very different from it’s pre-fire state. We’re just happy to have it back!

The Vetter Mountain trail has been closed for 8 years. It was part of the classic and much-loved Chilao Figure 8, a route that includes the Charlton Connector Trail, Vetter Mountain Trail, Mount Hillyer Trail, connecting fire roads, and the Silver Mocassin trail. It has been missed, and will be enjoyed once again!

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