Archive for the ‘Santa Monica Mountains’ Category

Report on the 2016 Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days in Pt Mugu State Park, April 22-24

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

The largest trailwork event in the Santa Monica Mountains is held every year at the end of April in Pt. Mugu State Park. This past weekend, volunteers from CORBA, the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council (who organize the event every year), the Sierra Club and others converged on the Danielson campground to help out. Besides trailwork on Saturday and Sunday, the festivities included a barbecue dinner, a huge prize give-away and optional overnight camping.

Clearing mustard on the Sin Nombre Trail

Clearing mustard on the Sin Nombre Trail

On Saturday morning, 140 volunteers split up into crews of about 10 and dispersed to various trails. The crew that included most of CORBA’s volunteers shuttled to the top of the Sin Nombre Trail and started the day by cutting back mustard that was crowding the trail. When that was finished, we worked our way south, spending our time fixing deep ruts. That involved cutting down the berm that forms on the outside of the trail and dragging the dirt back into the rut, and also building up the inside of the trail to restore a gentle outslope. The outslope allows water to run off the outside of the trail, rather than running down it and eroding a new rut.

Fixing a rut on the Sin Nombre Trail

Fixing a rut on the Sin Nombre Trail

The north end of the Sin Nombre trail is very rocky in sections, so it took a considerable amount of work to restore the trail to it’s original condition.

While the CORBA crew was working southward, two other crews were working north from the bottom of the trail. They also were fixing ruts.

After lunch on the trail, a few from the other crews came up to help the CORBA crew. The extra hands allowed us to finish our work an hour early – the help was very much appreciated! With three crews working, we were able to repair all of the ruts along the length of Sin Nombre that were repairable.

Fixing the tight, rocky switchback at the bottom of the Wood Canyon Vista Trail, part of the Backbone Trail.

Fixing the tight, rocky switchback at the bottom of the Wood Canyon Vista Trail, part of the Backbone Trail.

A crew consisting of mostly MBU members and led by Steve Messer, CORBA’s president, worked their way up the Wood Ranch Vista Trail. They started by rebuilding the first very tight switchback which had become rocky and difficult to navigate in recent years. When that was done, they headed up the hill to generally clean out old drains and build new ones where needed.

A journalist from the Ventura County Star accompanied the MBU crew. You can view his photos and video on their website.

Other crews worked on Sage Trail, rebuilding walls and drainages, Old Boney Trail near Sorreno Valley in the Boney Mountain Wilderness Area, and a group of youngsters and their parents cleared brush from the side of the Blue Canyon Trail. Building Bridges to the Outdoors Sierra Club worked on Coyote Trail.

Decorating the dessert cakes for Saturday's dinner

Decorating the dessert cakes for Saturday’s dinner

There hasn’t been any rain recently so the dirt was bone-dry and turns to dust when we dig into it. Because of this, it’s not possible to pack it down firmly despite our best efforts. Be careful when riding these newly worked trails – parts of them are pretty loose still!

Saturday afternoon was spent relaxing around camp, chatting with friends and rehydrating, often with light- to dark-brown beverages. Some people went hiking or riding and youngsters helped decorate the desert cakes with colored icing and sprinkles.

The barbecue dinner, cooked and served by Park staff, was fabulous as always – barbecued tri-tip, chicken and veggie burgers along with salad, garlic toast and baked beans. During dinner, Tony Hoffman from State Parks, along with a pair of young volunteers, called ticket numbers for the prize give-away. The very best prizes (tents, sleeping bags and such) were gone by the time this correspondent’s number was called; even so I got a gift certificate to a nice restaurant in Thousand Oaks that I like.

David Szymanski, superintendent of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and Craig Sap, superintendent of State Parks Angeles District dropped in during the afternoon and dinner to chat and thank the volunteers for all their help.

After it got dark, slide shows were given by State Park scientists on the archeology of the area, especially with respect to mudslides over hundreds of years and their effect on native inhabitants, and the ecology of recovery after the Springs Fire two years ago.

Saturday night barbecue dinner and prize give-away

Saturday night barbecue dinner and prize give-away

The number of volunteers for Sunday’s trailwork was much smaller, as happens every year. Two dozen people broke into three crews; one worked on “Toe-stubber” a second continued clearing overgrowth from the Blue Canyon Trail, and the kids did some easy trail smoothing nearby with their parents.

CORBA would like to thank all the volunteers and Park staff who made this year’s event a rousing success!

You can view many more photos of the event in CORBA’s 2016 Trail Days photo gallery.

 

Report on the April 2 Backbone Trailwork from Kanan Road

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

We had an unusually poor turnout for our trail restoration project along the Backbone Trail between Kanan and Latigo Canyon Roads. Even so, our small group of five (4 mountain bikers and one trail runner) got a lot done, and along with the dozen or so volunteers from our partners with the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council, we worked about a mile of trail, starting on the top of the tunnel just past the first steep hill out of the parking area. The poor turnout of mountain bikers was a real disappointment, especially because this is such a great and popular trail for mountain biking. This is the first leg of the ride between Kanan Road and the Corral Canyon trailhead.

Starting to hack back the brush that was overgrowing the inside of this turn.

Starting to hack back the brush that was overgrowing the inside of this turn.

There were three major problems that we needed to address – lack of drains, poorly constructed drains and overgrowing brush that included a lot of poison oak (PO).

We originally scouted this trail about six weeks ago, but we had to scrub that work day because we learned only a couple of days beforehand that there would be a major event that morning, with hundreds of trail runners passing through the work area, and the parking area would be used by support crew.

We scouted the area again last week to flag the spots where we could be working. In just six weeks the amount of growth of the brush, and especially the PO, amazed us!

For dealing with most of the overgrowth, we left that to the Trails Council crew and their gas hedge trimmer. That’s an effective way to quickly deal with overgrowing chaparral and PO. Unlike most brush cuttings that we pick up and dispose of off the trail and out of sight, clippings that contain poison oak are carefully pulled to the side of the trail with a MacLeod (has a 4′ handle) and then shoved over the edge. We try not to touch any part of the handles of our tools to the PO leaves or stems.

The brush is all cut back, but there's a lot of leaf litter to remove still

The brush is all cut back, but there’s a lot of leaf litter to remove still.

The CORBA crew hiked about 1.4 miles to the end of the work area to tackle a corner where there have been mountain bike spills. It turns out that the brush had overgrown the inside of the turn so that the trail had become very narrow and people were riding beyond the outside edge where the dirt was soft. Mixed in with the overgrowing brush were some very vigorous PO bushes. Lacking the gas hedge trimmer, we chopped and hacked the brush around the PO, exposing as much of it as possible, then carefully chopped, hacked and lopped those branches. Where the brush had been removed was about a foot deep of leaf litter, including PO leaves, so we scraped all that away, revealing the original trail tread. Finally, we worked the dirt to give the tread a bit of an outslope (to shed water) and to make it even with the old trail.

That effort took the five of us about an hour and a half. After that, we worked our way back to the beginning, rebuilding blocked drains, filling a few very nasty but short ruts, and building new drains.

We've almost finished restoring this turn to its original condition.

We’ve almost finished restoring this turn to its original condition.

Some of the drains we worked turned out to be old drains that were completely filled with dirt. Even thought the trail was on a steep cross-slope, the dirt had piled us several feet off the edge of the trail, like the Mississippi River delta. To make an effective drain, we had to cut down the brush that was growing up around these ‘deltas’ and then push a couple of cubic yards of dirt down the hill. That was before we could even start to construct our typical drainage nicks!

There was a major problem on the first half mile of trail beyond the top of the tunnel. Some person or group had dug poorly designed drains into the trail. They were too narrow and not sloped properly to drain water off the side. The biggest problem was that the outlet at the outside edge of the trail was narrow, so all the water was focused on one spot, eroding a deep rut. With just a few rainfalls, these ruts would start to encroach into the trail and would eventually destroy it. The Trails Council took care of these by widening them out, and also worked on some deeply rutted sections.

Overall we fixed up about a mile of trail, including brushing back the overgrowth. But be careful when riding this trail – the brush and poison oak is growing so quickly that it’s likely to continue to be a problem for some time.

March Skills Clinic photos posted March 6

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

We had another unusually large class of 24 on a cool, cloudy day in Malibu Creek State Park this month at the Basic Skills Clinic.  The clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month. You can see the photos in our March photo gallery.

Volunteers restore the Backbone Trail near Yerba Buena

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Ten CORBA and 17 other volunteers helped to restore 3/4 miles of the Backbone Trail (Yerba Buena segment) this past Saturday February 27.

After scraping off the vegeation, the outside of the trail is pulled back to fill in the rut, and to give it a slight slope so water will run off it, rather than down it. This is called 'outsloping' the trail.

The outside berm of the trail is pulled back to fill in the rut, and to give it a slight slope so water will run off it, rather than down it. This is called ‘outsloping’ the trail.

This trail was built about 12 years ago and has had very little, if any maintenance work done on it since. Overall it has held up very well, which shows how well it was designed and constructed, but the lack of rainfall over the past several years has certainly contributed to its longevity.

Nevertheless, most of the original drainages were completely filled with silt and had become ineffective, allowing water to run down the middle of the trail, developing and enlarging ruts. As such, most of our work was spent fixing ruts, and repairing drainages or building new ones, to keep ruts from re-forming or enlarging. One long-time volunteer used a gas-powered hedge trimmer to cut back the brush that was starting to impinge on the trail while two people followed along behind to dispose of the cuttings.

A finished drainage nick.

This CORBA crew embarked on a task that was new to us by completely rebuilding a section of the trail about 100′ long. The berm on the outside of the trail that keeps the water on it was chopped up. The dirt was then dragged back over the trail, filling in the center rut and used to re-establish the normal outslope that allows water to flow straight across and off the outside edge of the trail, rather then down the middle to make a rut. This took about three hours. For the rest of the day we joined in the other volunteers in clearing and building drainages.

We packed up about 2 pm, a littler earlier than usual, then some CORBA volunteers drove into Thousand Oaks for thank-you lunch on CORBA at the Stonefire Grill.

Thanks to all the CORBA and other volunteers who came out to help restore this trail! There are many more photos in our Feb 27th photo gallery for you to view.

 

Rim of the Valley Final Study Recommendations Released

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016
Final Study Recommendations

Final Study Recommendations

The National Park Service today released the Final Study Recommendations for the Rim of the Valley Corridor Special Resources Study. CORBA has been involved in the Rim of the Valley process since congress authorized the study in 2008, and even before that when the concept was only for a Rim of the Valley trail. We are pleased to see the final recommendation includes most of what we–and many other groups and individuals–suggested in our comments. The recommendation is a hybrid of Alternatives C and D of the draft released last June.

The Secretary of the Interior transmitted the final study to Congress on February 16, 2016.   The final study recommends a 170,000-acre addition to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.The selected alternative would add portions of the Los Angeles River and Arroyo Seco corridors, the Verdugo Mountains-San Rafael Hills, the San Gabriel Mountains foothills, the Simi Hills, the Santa Susana Mountains, and the Conejo Mountain area to the national recreation area. Within the expanded area are: habitat types that contribute to the high biodiversity of the Santa Monica Mountains; functioning wildlife corridors; highly scenic landscapes; historic and archeological sites; geologic and paleontological resources; thousands of acres of open space and recreation areas; and miles of trails, all of which provide exceptional public enjoyment opportunities. Expanding Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area would provide new recreational opportunities for one of the most densely populated areas in the United States.

No lands currently managed by the Forest Service (Angeles National Forest and Los Padres National Forest) are included in the proposed boundary expansion of the SMMNRA. However, the National Park Service could partner with the Forest Service on projects, as needed, and as permitted under their current “service first authority.”  Existing land managers would continue to manage their lands, but the inclusion of those lands within the expanded boundary of the SMMNRA would allow the NPS to work with them to acquire land from willing sellers, or invest in capitol improvements for recreation or habitat improvements.

The study at this point is just a recommendation from the Secretary of the Interior to Congress. It will be up to congress to take those recommendations and act on them. Or they may not. It many be many years, if ever, before the boundaries of the SMMNRA are adjusted as recommended in the Study.

The final study report, errata from the draft study and an analysis of public comments submitted can be found at http://www.nps.gov/pwro/rimofthevalley/

February Skills Clinic photos posted Feb 9th

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

We had an unusually large class of 25 on a warm day in the dead of winter in Malibu Creek State Park this month at the Basic Skills Clinic.  The clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month. You can see the photos in our February photo gallery.

Trail Days 2016: We Need Your Help to Restore Sycamore Canyon Trails!

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Once a year we have an opportunity to work on the trails and then BBQ and camp at Danielson Ranch in Pt Mugu State Park. It is opened annually for the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days! This is a unique opportunity to work on the trails that we enjoy so much in Sycamore Canyon, and the Saturday workday is followed by a BBQ and prizes, with free camping available on Friday and/or Saturday night. This is hands down the best day to get in some trail maintenance work! Camping is optional; you may leave with the escort after the BBQ. There will be trailwork projects on both Saturday and Sunday. Sign up for one or both! Pre-registration is requested by April 18th so we’ll know how many people to prepare for.

Schedule at a glance

Friday night April 22 – arrive for overnight camping (optional). Bagels and hot beverages supplied Saturday morning for campers.

Saturday April 23Trailwork, barbecue dinner, prize give-away. Bring your own lunch. Optional overnight camping. Bagels and hot beverages supplied Sunday morning for campers.

Sunday April 24Trailwork, prize give-away. Bring your own lunch.

You can volunteer to help out on Saturday, Sunday, or both.

BRING: LUNCHES, BEVERAGES, SNACKS AND WATER. Tools and instruction on using them are provided.

WEAR: Gloves, hat, long pants, protective clothing, and work boots or sturdy shoes.

REGISTRATION: Advance registration is required for the activities shown below, and appreciated by April 18th!

Saturday Registration: http://www.meetup.com/CORBAmtb/events/228713049/
Sunday Registration: http://www.meetup.com/CORBAmtb/events/228713118/

TRAILWORK: Saturday and/or Sunday. Help out with one or both! There are also opportunities to help out in the camp instead of trailwork.

CAMPING: Free camping Friday and/or Saturday nights for volunteers at the Danielson Multi-use Area located under the sycamores and oaks in the heart of Point Mugu State Park. Bring your own gear.

DINNER: Sat. Night Barbecue Free FOR VOLUNTEERS. Bring appetizers and beverages.

PRIZES: Thank-you prize give-aways will be held Saturday after dinner and Sunday after trailwork.

VEHICLE ACCESS: You will be able to caravan into and out of the park by vehicle only at these few designated times:

ARRIVE: Friday – 5 pm and 7 pm. Saturday – 7:30 am and 4:30 pm Sunday – 7:30 am

DEPART: Saturday – 4 pm and about 9 pm. Sunday – 8 am and 2:30 pm

Full details and camping/dining details are also provided on the registration pages.

Students Restore the Trancas Canyon Section of the Backbone Trail

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

1Twenty-five high school mountain bike team members and fourteen USC students, along with a few parents, coaches and CORBA and SMMTC trail crew leaders, came out this past Saturday to address the ruts on the Trancas Canyon section of the Backbone Trail.

We installed or fixed about 50 drainage nicks and otherwise repaired water damage over about a mile of the trail.

But two days before, with about 40 student volunteers ready and eager to help, we were afraid that we weren’t going to be able to do restoration work on Saturday! We had planned to work on the Backbone Trail about a mile east of Kanan Road, but we learned on Thursday morning that there was going to be a major trail running event that would see 300 runners passing through our work area. This would not only interfere with our ability to get needed work done (we stop working and step aside when trail users come through the work area), but was a safety concern for the runners. After a large flurry of emails and consulting with some park agencies, we decided to move the event to Trancas Canyon.

As usual, the students threw their youthful exuberance into the tasks and quickly dug out the drainage nicks. They finished about two hours before we expected, so some moved further along the trail and installed a few more nicks, while others worked on widening and resloping.

Many thanks to the students from Simi Valley, Calabasas and El Camino Real High Schools, and from the USC Outdoors Club!

More photos of the event can be seen in our trailwork photo gallery.

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Rondell Oasis Ride – Hike – Horse Protest Gathering

Friday, January 15th, 2016

Next weekend we’d like to help stop the 4-Story hotel that is going to forever block views and access to the National Historic DeAnza Trail if it is built.  We need to get a good turnout of ALL trail users so please help me by spreading the word and getting these flyers distributed to your friends, riding buddies, the greater mountain biking community and anyone who cares about the views of the Santa Monica Mountains.

(CORBA is hosting an intermediate ride from Bark Park to this event. Learn more about it and sign up on this Meetup event page.)

This trail is located right off the 101 at Las Virgenes and next to the Mobil Station, the trail connects to the New Millennium and is only one of two access points to the New Millennium trail.  The designated National Historic DeAnza trail runs from south of Arizona in Mexico to San Francisco and celebrates the discoveries by Juan Bautista DeAnza.  It is one of only 16 trails in the nation that went before congress and the White House (according to the MND report).

De Anza/New Millenium Rally.

De Anza/New Millenium Rally.

The developer is being encouraged by the city to build a 4-Story hotel that will require that he put in substantial flood control measures, including a wall that will block access to the trail.  Originally, they designed steps up and over the wall…and have since proposed an ADA ramp.  One of the developer’s claims is that he is improving the trail for the community by putting in parking (4 shared spots with commuters and hotel guests), a doggie poo station and a trash can to justify the variance to the city’s height restrictions and building in the Las Virgenes Scenic Corridor.  There will be no vehicle access to the trail anymore from the west side of Calabasas…only from Calabasas Road further east.

We want to make sure that all trail users are there (most impacted will be the equestrians)…because all will have impaired access to the trail.  The developer has no plans for horse trailer parking and in fact has limited parking for other trail users unless the city “gifts” him the currently public Rondell street easement, that is currently used by trail users of all types, daily by commuters as a park and ride and now as a construction staging area for local infrastructure projects.

Please come…and spread the word to others too…at 1pm on January 23rd.  We need a big group of trail users and the community to make sure that our voices are heard.  We’re asking that mountain bikers ride in…, and park their cars either on Agoura Road or north of the freeway on Las Virgenes, since it is easier for us to ride in to the site.  Or make a day of it and ride New Millennium Loop before or after, parking along Lost Hills Road and starting at the Bark Park.

We also want to be respectful of local businesses who are already victimized by transient parking and need their lots for their customers.  It will only get worse for local businesses if the two hotels go and housing development goes in with inadequate parking.  That is why we are asking people to park legally on the street and hike/ride in.

(CORBA is hosting an intermediate ride from Bark Park to this event. Learn more about it and sign up on this Meetup event page.)

Thank you for helping us spread the word…this development is not a done deal.  We need all the support we can get.

 A hiker approaches the De Anza trailhead, which will be hidden behind a hotel

A hiker approaches the De Anza trailhead, which will be hidden behind a hotel

An artist's rendering of the proposed hotel.

An artist’s rendering of the proposed hotel.

January 2016 Skills Clinic and Beginners’ Ride Photos Posted December 3

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

Malibu Creek State Park was busy with visitors on the second day of 2016. The morning started off overcast and chilly for 15 riders at the Basic Skills Clinic.  The clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month. You can see the photos in our January photo gallery. This month, the clinic was followed by a Beginners’ Ride, sponsored by Cynergy Cycles and led by CORBA and GGR Director Wendy Engelberg. Photos of the ride can be seen at the end of the skills clinic photo gallery.