Archive for the ‘Santa Monica Mountains’ Category

Hastain Trail Closed to Public on Appeal

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016


In March 2011, we reported on the Hastain Trail in Franklin Canyon. A mega-mansion developer, Mohamed Hadid, had purchased a parcel of land traversed by the Hastain Trail in 2002. In 2011, he began development of the site, putting up a fence to block the trail without any public notice.

hastain trail closedImmediately, local hiker Ellen Scott formed the Friends of Hastain Trail. They fought the developer in court, with the backing of the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority. The previous owner had never prohibited public entry to the land via the Hastain Trail for at least five years prior to 1972. Witnesses testified hiking the trail as far back as 1965. Hadid did not close the trail for nearly ten years that he owned it.

In October 2012, we reported that Friends of Hastain Trail won the lawsuit, and the trail was reopened to the public. The decision was based on state laws regarding prescriptive easements.

Hadid, who has since been charged with criminal misdemeanor offences relating to another property   he is developing, and was named one of L.A.s “ten worst neighbors of 2015,” appealed the decision. The appeals court recently overturned the ruling, once again closing the trail to the public.

The battle for the trail is not over. Though Hadid has offered to provide an alternative route through his property, the route he proposes doesn’t have the views afforded by the existing trail, and is not an equitable replacement.

Efforts are now underway to appeal the decision to a higher court, which the MRCA and CORBA are supporting. Stay tuned for updates.


Malibu Wants to Know if We Want a Pump Track

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

trancasfield_map_2-1476310800-6421The city of Malibu is asking the public what type of facility we want at Trancas Field. They are conducting an online survey. If you live in or near Malibu, we need your votes! If you don’t live in Malibu, but would visit a bike park there, we need your votes too.

Please help convince the City of Malibu to include a “skate park” and “bicycle pump track” in Malibu by voting in this public survey:

In question #1 fill out your Contact Information.

and for #2 choose the “Hard surface athletic facilities”

and for # 11 choose the “Skate Park” and ALSO “Bike Pump Track”.

You don’t have to fill out anything else unless you see something you like.

There will be a series of public meetings where every voice can make a difference. The deciding factor in Thousand Oaks was that over 100 cyclists came to the first meeting and asked for a bike park. If you can make one of these, please save the dates, but at least fill out the online survey:

Date Meeting Location Time
October 12 to
December 12
Trancas Field Questionnaire Online N/A
October 17 Teen & Youth Community Workshop Malibu City Hall 7:00 PM
November 2 Community Workshop Malibu West Beach Club 6:30 PM
November 30 Community Workshop Malibu City Hall 6:30 PM

We recently had a bike park approved in Thousand Oaks, and next week we’re hoping the LA County Board of Supervisors will approve the proposed bike park at Puente Hills Landfill. Let’s keep this train rolling!


September Skills Clinic photos posted September 8

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Graham took over the photographer duties again for Steve, who was out of town, in Malibu Creek State Park this month at the Basic Skills Clinic.  There was a smallish group with nine participants this Labor Day Weekend. The clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month. You can see the photos in our September photo gallery.

June Skills Clinic photos posted June 10

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Graham took over the photographer duties again for Steve, who was out of town, in Malibu Creek State Park this month at the Basic Skills Clinic.  This month there were 11 participants. The clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month. You can see the photos in our June photo gallery.

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 Canyon 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

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.