Gabrielino Trail Restoration Update

CORBA has been working behind the scenes on restoring the Gabrielino National Recreation Trail. The Gabrielino is the last trail still closed because of damage due to the Station Fire. It’s been an ongoing effort since 2011 to open up sections of the trail and then keep them clear of downed trees.

In early 2015 the Los Angeles Conservation Corps worked with Bellfree Contractors to rebuild the Gabrielino from Paul Little to Oakwilde Campground. CORBA helped fund that effort with a generous grant from REI. We subsequently concentrated on the Ken Burton trail, a project that rallied volunteers in an intensive 8-months of bi-monthly work days.

Searching for the trail in February 2016

Only the section from Oakwilde to the junction with Bear Canyon trail remains closed to public use. CORBA has been awarded grants from both REI and Edison International to help fund the restoration of this section. Those funds support volunteers, buy tools and materials and will pay for professional services to improve the sustainability of the trail and reduce future maintenance needs. We are grateful for their support.

The trail was littered with downed trees in 2016

In early 2016 we did a hike-through inspection of the trail with Forest Service staff, Bellfree Contractors, Los Angeles Conservation Corps and Boy Scout volunteers. The arduous journey involved climbing over and under dozens and dozens of downed trees, searching for remnants of trail where it had been washed away, and dodging and ducking heavy brush. Sections of the trail were completely gone, the only route was to hike along the streambed, which was also covered in downed trees.

After more than a year of internal Forest Service review, the go-ahead was given to us by District Ranger Bob Blount last summer. Sadly, Ranger Bob passed away last week and won’t see this trail completed. He was especially excited for us to be working on this trail and bringing it back to its earlier glory. We hope to finish the project by summer in his honor.

After months of extreme fire danger (meaning no chainsaw use), last fall CORBA and MWBA volunteer sawyers spent six solid days wielding chainsaws to cut through the deadfall along the trail.

With the corridor opened up, MWBA have devoted their monthly trailwork day to the project since December. In three work days the volunteer crews have worked on just over two miles of the trail.

There is so much enthusiasm for getting this trail restored and opened that there have been more volunteers that tools for the last two days. The volunteer effort has been astounding, with more than 40 volunteers signed up each day. Some sections that have been worked on are now in better shape than before the Station Fire. But there is still much to do.

So far, over 50 individual volunteers have devoted more than 1000 hours to the restoration effort.


A recently restored section

This is truly a team effort, with the Angeles Forest 50k Run trail crew having worked on another section of the Gabrielino near Switzers; the Sierra Club have been working on the section around Devore camp; and previous work was done by the Los Angeles Conservation Corps and the Boy Scouts on other sections.

Thanks to all the volunteers who have contributed to this restoration effort. Special thanks to our partners at the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association for organizing group work days and REI and Edison International for their financial support.

There is still more to do. The trail is not officially open to the public, but we hope to change that soon.. Watch for upcoming announcements for March and April volunteer work days from MWBA, or CORBA’s Meetup group.

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