Archive for the ‘Santa Monica Mountains’ Category

E-MTBs Prohibited from Malibu Creek, Point Mugu and Will Rogers State Parks

Friday, September 15th, 2017

On September 13, 2017, California State Parks Angeles District Superintendent Craig Sap issued order 915-17-02, closing all trails in the Angeles District to electric bicycles. This includes multi-use trails in Malibu Creek State Park, Topanga State Park, Will Rogers State Park, and Point Mugu State Park.

E-MTB’s such as this Specialized Turbo Levo are prohibited from Santa Monica Mountains trails

Electric mountain bikes are already prohibited from Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority and National Park Service trails.

Some trails and many popular bike routes in the Santa Monicas cross more than one of these jurisdictions. This had led to confusion as to where e-MTBs were allowed. Sap’s order states that consistency with neighboring jurisdictions is part of the justification used.

The California Department of Parks and Recreation current policy regarding e-MTBs leaves the decision at the District level, until such time as a formal state-wide policy is adopted. The order goes into effect on October 1st, 2017.

Enforcement is expected to begin then too, but we do not yet have information on how it will be enforced. As one can see in photo above, it can be extremely difficult to distinguish some e-MTbs from their non-electric brethren.

Sap’s order does appear to allow for exemptions. Law enforcement and emergency personnel may still use e-MTBs in the performance of their official duties without a prior written exemption.

Currently, Conejo Open Space trails are generally open to e-MTBs, as well as roads and trails appearing on the Angeles National Forest MVUM (Motor Vehicle Use Map).  Check the People for Bikes e-MTB Map for more information on where to legally ride electric mountain bikes.

2017-09-15 – Angeles District State Parks E-Bike Order

 

September Skills Clinic photos posted September 5th

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

This month we had 8 riders including two little tikes on a very hot day in the park. Because of the heat, around 100 F, we skipped some skills and quit about an hour earlier than normal.

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 September photo gallery.

‘Creek of Doom’ trail restoration in MCSP on November 11

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Last winter’s rains damaged the surface of Crags Rd Trail in Malibu Creek State Park and have encouraged brush to grow up along its steep upslope bank. The CORBA and Santa Monica Mountain Trails Council trail crews will be fixing these problems on the section of the trail that goes along the creek as it approaches the M*A*S*H site. It’s fondly known as “The Rock Garden” or “The Creek of Doom.”

After the trailwork is finished, CORBA will treat you to lunch afterwards.

No experience is necessary to help out with trailwork. Tools and instructions on how to use them safely and effectively will be provided.

Parents/guardians are responsible for minors at all times, and they must constantly and directly supervise children under 14. Children must be over 7-years old to attend. Please leave your four-legged friends at home!

Be sure to wear protective clothing (sturdy shoes, long pants and sleeves, hat, golves) and bring snacks, sunscreen and water. CORBA will provide the tools and training.

We request that you pre-register online at https://www.meetup.com/CORBAmtb/events/242673091/ so that we’ll know how many tools to provide. Remember, by registering here, CORBA will treat you to lunch afterwards!

CORBA’s thank-you lunch will be after trailwork ends at 2:30 pm, so bring some snacks to tide you over.

The online registration page also contains details about where and when to meet.

August Skills Clinic photos posted August 5

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

This month we had 8 riders and one little girl who mostly watched on a nearly perfect day to be in the park. The stream is dry again so we practiced riding through the rocks, which were considerably more uneven than before the winter storms strew them all over.

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.

Grasslands Trail Reroute in Malibu Creek State Park Now Open

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

In 2010, a steep and unsustainable spur of the Grasslands Trail in Malibu Creek State Park was closed for plant rehabilitation. The spur was a shortcut from Grasslands to High Road. Fences were erected at both ends and “Closed” signs were posted. These signs were torn down by trail users and the fences cut. Parallel trails that skirted the end of the fence appeared beside the original spur. Eventually the bedraggled fences were removed completely.

The new trail has a great view!

The plan from the beginning was to rebuild the trail along a much less steep and much more sustainable route. Under-funding of State Parks, bureaucracy and distracting emergencies such as wildfires and mudslides in Pt Mugu State Park being what they are, rebuilding of the trail has experienced years of delays.

But it is finally open! (Even if it’s not quite complete.)

The new trail starts near the top of the old spur and connects to High Road a little further west (closer to the MASH site) than the spur.

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Volunteers are finishing the first part on the new trail on Earth Day.

The reroute was built in two parts. The first was constructed by volunteers on Earth Day, April 22. The route had been previously cleared of grass and low chaparral by State Park workers and the volunteers finished it by digging it out to have an appropriate width and slope. This segment ended at a small seasonal drainage that was dry at the time.

State Park workers finished the second half and the trail is now open for use. The seasonal drainage will have a bridge built across it so that the trail can be used year-round, and that bridge is expected to be compete by the end of the summer.

The CORBA Hill Climb contest on the Grasslands spur during the Fat Tire Fest in 2007

The new trail is longer than the original spur and therefore much less steep. The old spur was so steep that it was a real challenge to climb. In fact, CORBA used that section for the hill-climbing contest when the Fat Tire Fest was held in Malibu Creek State Park. The best part is that that new trail has a fantastic view of the trees, meadow and mountains in the background. The gentler slope now allows you the time to look around and enjoy the surroundings, both on the way down and up.

Kudos to State Parks for building a great new trail! The old spur and parallel trails are closed so please use the new trail when riding Grasslands Trail in Malibu Creek State Park to allow the native vegetation to recover on the steep hillside!

What’s up with the new bridge in Point Mugu State Park?

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

Recently a sturdy bridge was built across a short gully on the Sin Nombre Trail in Point Mugu State Park. This bridge bypasses a sharp corner that has been the location of many serious mountain biking accidents. Here’s the story of the corner and the bridge.

Climbing away from the corner. You can see the rocks on the edge that were placed to widen the trail, and how steep the drop is.

The corner in question is about 0.1 miles from the top of the trail at Ranch Center Road, where a small, usually dry stream crosses it. From Ranch Center Road, Sin Nombre Trail crosses the edge of a meadow and enters a grove of oak trees. It bends right and downhill for about 20′, rounds the corner in question to the left, turning over 90-degrees, then climbs out of the stream crossing and narrows.  On the left side of the trail is a steep drop into the rocky stream bed about 5′ below. The corner looks really easy to negotiate and that’s the deception that has caused so many crashes and injuries. The natural tendency is to brake to slow on the downhill side to negotiate the sharp corner. The climb out of the corner is unexpectedly steep, so riders who haven’t downshifted can stall and put their foot down. They always put their left foot down because they’re already leaning that way after going around the sharp left corner. Unfortunately the trail is very narrow on the climb out, so unless the bike is on the very inside edge of the trail, the foot goes off the edge of the trail, followed by rider and bike, ending in a pile on the rocks of the stream bed. The seriousness of the injury is dependent on how lucky the rider is on landing on the rocks several feet below. Some of the injuries have been very serious, resulting in broken bones and nerve damage. One rider was paralyzed and unable to feel anything below his neck. Fortunately he’d just sprained his neck, not broken it, and feelings and movement returned after about 10 minutes. In addition there have been lots of regular scrapes, gouges and sprains.

There are other ways to crash on that corner, but putting the left foot down off the edge of the trail is very common.

The new bridge on the Sin Nombre Trail in Point Mugu State Park.

CORBA with lots of help from the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council worked to improve this section of the trail in 2012. Volunteers widened the hazardous section of the trail a few inches by embedding large flat rocks at the edge. Unfortunately the trail can’t be widened further by cutting into the inside edge because of oak trees and their roots at the edge of the trail.

Widening the trail be even a few inches certainly kept some people from tumbling down into the rocks below, but still people were having serious injuries there.

A few years ago, the father of a young Boy Scout fell and sustained very serious injuries. Many falls have resulted in broken bones, including at least one broken pelvis.

Now an Eagle Scout candidate, the young man embarked on a project after consulting with State Park officials to fix this issue once and for all. The result is the new bridge and the old hazardous section has been closed off.

Some people will probably be upset that the thrill of rounding this one corner has been removed from the trail, but I hope that when they understand why, they will happy to give up one turn to save less-experienced mountain bikers from falling on the rocks and seriously injuring themselves. So far as I know, nobody has been killed on this corner, but it was just a matter of time.

Many thanks to the young Eagle Scout who completed this project and the many scouts and friends who volunteered to help him!

June Skills Clinic photos posted June 4

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

This month we had a huge group of 32, possibly an all-time record, to make up for the 3 we had last month! Graham again filled in taking pictures for Steve who had a prior commitment to help celebrate National Trails Day.

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 June photo gallery.

May Skills Clinic photos posted May 6

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

There was a very small group of only three at this month’s Skills Clinic, on a very gray day in May.

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 the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days, April 28-30, 2017

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

On Thursday, in preparation for the annual Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days held every year in Pt Mugu State Park, I drove my now very dusty car down the main Sycamore Canyon trail and parked at the bottom of the Wood Canyon Vista Trail, a segment of the Backbone Trail. I hiked up the trail and flagged 59 spots where drains were needed – mostly to clean out existing drains that had become clogged with silt from the winter rains, but also some new drains about 2/3 of the way up the trail.

Saturday, CORBA volunteers and few others install drains and repair ruts on the Wood Canyon Vista Trail, a segment of the backbone trail.

Saturday morning, the State and National park services drove 17 of us, including 2 youngsters, and our work tools to the bottom of the trail. After grabbing our tools, we hiked 1.5 miles up to the work area, about 2/3 of the way to the top, and proceeded to work down. Altogether, we put installed or cleaned 26 drains.

The area of greatest concern was at the start of our work area where the trail passes through a grassy area and is solid clay. Most of the rest of the trail is very rocky. This clay section is pliable, quickly becomes depressed in the middle where a rut erodes when it rains. This section of the trail was completely restored during trailwork in February 2015, yet it was as rutted as ever after just two years. A narrow but deep rut had developed in the middle of the trail, just wide enough for a mountain bike tire to slip in and get jammed.

We learned that leveling the trail doesn’t last here, so instead we cut a drain in about every 50 feet. That involved cutting through the berm (the dirt that builds up on the outside edge of the trail and keeps the water from running off), the first few inches was as hard as concrete, despite having been rain-soaked a few weeks earlier. The drains were 3 to 5 feet wide. We used the dirt we dug out of the drains to fill in the rut on the trail. Now we have a section with frequent drains to keep the water from running all the way down the trail, and the rut is filled with dirt. Hopefully this restoration will last longer than two years!

Overall, we dug out 26 drains over 2100′ of trail and filled in about 500′ of rut! Well done, everyone!

Saturday restoration on the Upper Sycamore Trail.

While the CORBA crew was working on the Wood Canyon Vista Trail, the other volunteers (about 60 of them) worked to restore the Upper Sycamore Trail where Sycamore Creek crosses it a number of times. By all accounts, this trail was decimated by the stream. This is a very shaded trail in a deep canyon and popular with hikers, but it’s in the Wilderness Area and so closed to mountain biking.

Everyone was back to the staging area by about 2:30 so we spent the afternoon relaxing and chatting with friends until the barbecue dinner. As usual, we had chicken, hot dogs, veggie burgers, baked beans (regular and veggie), salad and garlic toast. It was up to us to bring our own beverages. As dinner was winding down, the prize give-away started. There were so many prizes that everyone must have gotten one.

Saturday barbecue dinner.

The work continued on Sunday morning with a much smaller force of about 30 total. We all shuttled up to Upper Sycamore Trail, then split into two crews. One hiked up to the top of the trail to work on tread issues while the other worked on clearing overgrowing brush from the bottom. Sunday is always a smaller and shorter event; we were back to the staging area by noon to enjoy left-overs from Saturday’s barbecue.

CORBA would like to thank all the volunteers who came out to help fix up our trails in Pt Mugu State Park. Everyone did a great job! And a special thanks goes to the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council that organizes this event every year.

You can see all the photos from this weekend in CORBA’s photo gallery, or photos from Steve Messer and Xander Tenai . Take a look to see what we accomplished.

 

Report on Earth Day trail building in Malibu Creek State Park April 22, 2017

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

A few dozen volunteers gathered at Malibu Creek State Park on Saturday Morning, Earth Day, to help spruce it up. There were three main projects: to pick litter out of the creek, to paint over graffiti, and to build an extension to the Grasslands Trail. CORBA and other mountain bikers worked on the new trail.

A number of years ago, a steep fall-line trail that connected the Grasslands Trail to High Road was closed because it was not sustainable. At the time, it was planned that a new, contour trail would replace it. After many delays caused by, among other things, fires and floods in other parks, the first phase of the new trail was completed this past Saturday!

This trail is going to have a great view!

The trail had been roughed in by a SWECO trail bulldozer in the past couple of weeks, so the job of the volunteers was to put on the finishing touches – removing rocks, smoothing out bumps, ensuring an even outslope so next winter’s rainwater will run off the edge rather than down the middle, and completing the uphill edge.

There were enough volunteers that we got the work completed well before the expected time of noon, meaning that we had a bit of a wait until the Subway sandwiches were delivered for lunch. That gave us more time to sit and chat.

The second phase will be to build a 16′ bridge across an intermittent stream. Once that’s done, the remainder of the trail can be built to finish the connection to the High Road trail that leads to Crags Road, Century Lake and the MASH site.

Thanks to all the volunteers who dedicated their Saturday morning to help with one of their local parks!

You can see some of the activities in our photo gallery of the Grasslands Trail extension.