Archive for the ‘Santa Monica Mountains’ Category

Vote with your REI Purchases to support the Backbone Trail

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

This month, our friends at the SAMO Fund, a non-profit partner of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, are in a competition for funding through REI called “Loving Our Local Outdoors”. Between March 7th and April 8th, 2019, customers who make a purchase at one of eight local REI stores will receive a voting token and can vote for their favorite organization/project. The Santa Monica Mountains Fund is up against Friends of the LA River and Friends of Joshua Tree. While we are competing for the funding, supporters can rest assured that this is not a winner-loser situation; all organizations will receive funding in proportion to the number of votes received by each.

November 2018’s Woolsey Fire decimated 88% of National Park land in the Santa Monica Mountains, proving to be the most devastating park fire in the area since the Green Meadows Fire in 1993. The popular Backbone Trail that travels through the mountains has suffered extreme damage that creates safety issues for visitors. A few sections favored by mountain bikers remain closed due to fire-destroyed bridges, excessive erosion and large slides from torrential rains on the burned hillsides.

However, the biggest challenge to reopening the closed sections of the Backbone trail is the replacement of burned bridges. Without those bridges, the section of the Backbone Trail will remain closed to the public. With funding from this REI grant initiative, the SAMO Fund will be able to support and supply the needed materials for this project and help get this trail fully reopened to the public.

CORBA is committed to restoring the closed sections of trail, and will be applying for additional grant funding in support of the effort to re-establish and reopen the Backbone trail. This is an opportunity to help raise additional funds needed. Bridge replacement costs could run into the six-figure arena.

To vote for the Backbone Trail restoration project, visit one of the participating REI stores listed below*. With every purchase you make, you’ll receive a voting token that you can place into the SAMO Fund bucket. The more tokens they accumulate by April 8th, the more funding they will receive, and the sooner we can get those trail sections back in service.

 

* REI online customers will not have the opportunity to vote, unless you use free delivery to a participating REI store for pickup.

March 2nd 2019 Trail Fire Closures Update for the Santa Monica Mountains

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

This article has been updated since it was originally posted on January 4th:

– January 12: The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) opened most of their open space areas

– March 2: The Backbone Trail between Kanan Road west to Yerba Buena Road has been opened.

South of the 101 Freeway, the Woolsey Fire completely decimated most of the open space between Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Road on the east and Point Mugu State Park (Sycamore Canyon) on the west. North of the 101, most of the open space south of Simi Valley and between Valley Circle on the east and Erbes Road to the west was destroyed.

With the recent rains, the regeneration process has begun and new growth can be seen on the burned hillsides.

Nevertheless, many of the trails are still closed until they are assessed for damage, and repaired as necessary. In addition, heavy rains my result in mudslides that may damage sections of the trail that survived the fire.

The good news is that many of the trails are now open to use. The bad news is that during the Federal Government partial shutdown, the National Park Service is not able to work on their trails, prolonging the time that they will be closed.

The following list is not exhaustive – there are many smaller trails not listed that may be open or closed. If you see that a trail is marked as closed or cordoned off, please stay off it.

Areas that are open

Areas that are still closed

For your own safety and to protect the plants and creatures that live in the open space, please stay off closed trails completely, and where the trails are open to use, please stay on the trails! Also, watch for new hazards on the trails such as large ruts, debris slides, washouts and fallen trees.

Woolsey and Hill Fire Closures (Updated 12/21)

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

This past week has been devastating. Our hearts go out to all those who were impacted by the Woolsey Fire and the Hill Fire, which have ravaged our local mountains. We know that a good portion of CORBA’s membership are in areas affected by the fire. A few lost homes and property. CORBA’s storage shed near Malibu Creek State Park survived, though we weren’t able to confirm so until after Thanksgiving. We truly appreciate the firefighters and first responders who put themselves at incredible risk to battle these fires and save as much as they could.

With so much loss, it may sound a little selfish to be concerned about trails. Being able to go for a mountain bike ride can brighten your day and bring a sense of normalcy to these tumultuous times. But with most of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area closed, where can we ride? We’ve provided a listing below, with links to each park’s web site for the latest updates. We’ll do our best to keep this information current.

Please respect trail and park closures. Our land management agencies have their hands full with fire recovery and damage assessments. Trails in burned areas can be extremely hazardous, even after the fire is “out.”  Fine particulate ash is a lung irritant and can cause severe health problems. Burned, weakened trees can fall at any time, especially in the early days after the fire, or as the ground softens with rain and no vegetation. Once our first big rains hit, trails will be heavily damaged and may become impassable. Just don’t ride closed trails.

As soon as we are able, CORBA will be scheduling trailwork events to help restore trails that will be heavily damaged this coming winter. It might be some time before we can do trailwork or ride. Watch our meetup group or Facebook page for upcoming trailwork events in the new year.

OPEN Areas (Updated Dec 21, 2018):

CLOSED Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (Facebook PageTwitter

CLOSED California State Parks (FacebookTwitter):

  • Malibu Creek State Park – closed until further notice due to the Woolsey Fire. State Parks lost some structures, such as employee residences, the historic Sepulveda Adobe, Red House, Hope Ranch also known as the White Oak Barn (including historic Adamson rowboats) and Reagan Ranch. – Update 12/21: Malibu Creek State Park is now open. Campgrounds are closed, but trails are open. Please stay on the trails!

CLOSED Conejo Open Space Areas:

CLOSED Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (FacebookTwitter):

CLOSED Roads:

Last updated: Nov 26, 2018.

December Free Skills Clinic Cancelled

Monday, November 26th, 2018

Due to the horrendous damage to Malibu Creek State Park, CORBA is unable to hold our monthly free mountain biking skills clinic. The free skills clinic has been held on the first Saturday of every month for more than 20 years. 

This is the first time that we have had to cancel the class, a testament to the dedication of Mark Langton, our skills clinic instructor. 

At this time there is no estimate for when Malibu Creek State Park will reopen. Our January clinic is still on the calendar but is very likely to be canceled or moved to a new location. 

November Skills Clinic photos posted November 6

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

Ezra, Mark’s long-time assistant and MBU member, took the photos this month because the regular photographer, Steve, was driving back from a week of mountain biking in Utah.

The Basic Skills Clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month at Malibu Creek State Park.

You can see the photos in our November photo gallery.

August Skills Clinic photos posted August 8

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

Graham took over the photography for Steve, who was out of town, again this month – Thanks! Despite some issues with his cameras, Graham got some great shots, as always.

The Basic Skills Clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month at Malibu Creek State Park.

You can see the photos in our August photo gallery.

May Skills Clinic photos posted May 5

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

We had a relatively large group of 14 riders this month. It was a hot day in the park (a little over 90-degrees) and the park was very crowded. There seemed to be several events going on in addition to the Skills Clinic.

The Basic Skills Clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month at Malibu Creek State Park.

You can see the photos in our May photo gallery.

Report on Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days, April 27-29, 2018

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

Two trails in Point Mugu State Park (Sycamore Canyon) had significant improvements made to them despite the light turnout this year for the annual SMM Trail Days. For Saturday, the major work day, only about 130 people had preregistered online, so we expected about 100 to show up.

Cutting back the grass to make room for a drainage dip on the Sin Nombre Trail.

Most of the volunteers headed to the Hidden Pond Trail to deal with seriously overgrowing brush and some bad ruts. Meanwhile, five mountain bikers who had signed up via CORBA headed to the Sin Nombre Trail to address the serious rutting. We have worked on this trail in the past, most recently in 2016. Most of the tread is holding up pretty well, but several sections have developed severe ruts where the trail goes straight down the hill (a ‘fall-line’ trail). The ruts develop because there is no place for rainwater to drain off other than following the trail straight down the hill. Short of rerouting the trail so it is doesn’t follow the fall-line, there is no way to repair these serious ruts. As a result, the trail has become very broad as users avoid the rut and create a new path next to the rut. This has happened more than once. All we can hope to do is to avoid the rut enlarging with the next rain, and to prevent another rut from forming in the middle of the new path. We do this by cutting a drainage dip in the trail at the top of the fall-line section to divert the water off the trail before it can erode (or enlarge) a rut.

So on Saturday, the five of us from CORBA, including president Steve Messer, built eight drainages along the entire 1.1 miles length of the Sin Nombre Trail. Digging these were hard work for three reasons. First, the drains had to be quite long to move the water away from the fall-line trail. Second, we had to remove a lot of very thick and robustly rooted grass to build the drain. Finally, the dirt of the trail was almost concrete-hard so was hard to dig through. But we put in a huge effort and even got back to camp a little early so we could beat the crowd to the showers!

On the Hidden Pond Trail on Sunday.

As always, the crowd on Sunday was only about a quarter of Saturday. We all headed off to Hidden Pond Trail (closed to bikes) to complete the work that had been started on Saturday. That involved cutting back grass and brush with a powered hedge trimmer, raking up the cuttings and disposing them of the out of view of the trail, cutting larger brush with loppers, removing a few yucca plants, digging a few drains and filling in some ruts. Most of the trail had been worked on Saturday, so the 20-25 volunteers were able to finish off the trail on Sunday by noon.

Back at the camp, we had lunch made from leftovers from Saturday’s barbecue dinner, followed by another prize give-away. Finally, we packed up, cleaned up the camp and headed back home, happy to have made so much improvement to the trails in just two days!

You can see more photos of the work in our photo gallery of the 2018 event.

 

Summary of Backbone Trail Restoration Done April 14, 2018

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Using a weed whacker to cut back the grass

Twelve CORBA and Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council volunteers turned out to help restore the Backbone Trail on the west side of Latigo Canyon Trail this past Saturday. With this relatively small turnout, we weren’t able to do much to repair the substantial ruts, so we focused on cutting back the brush. Power hedge trimmers and a weed whacker allowed us to accomplish much more than if we had been using only hand tools. Overall we cut back brush over 0.44 miles, and trimmed grass over an even greater distance! The work went so quickly that we were able to repair two drains that were completely filled in. We hope to schedule another event there in the fall when we can focus on fixing the ruts and building drains to prevent them from forming again.

Cleaning up the trimmings.

April Skills Clinic photos posted April 9

Monday, April 9th, 2018

This month we had six riders. The weather was clear and cool (a slight possibility of rain was forecast but none fell) but the stream had some slimy water in it, so we skipped the creek crossing and rode down to the Rock Pool instead. The park was getting really crowded as we were riding back to the cars with many large groups of people using the trails.

The Basic Skills Clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month at Malibu Creek State Park.

You can see the photos in our April photo gallery.