Archive for the ‘Trail Crew’ Category

COSCA Spring Trailwork Day March 21st

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Come out and join the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA), CORBA, the Santa Monica Trails Council and other volunteers for the Annual COSCA Spring Trailwork Day. We will be working to restore part of the Lizard Rock Trail, and other nearby trails that are accessible from Hill Canyon in Wildwood Park.

At noon, following the morning of trail-building, workers will be treated to hamburgers / vegi-burgers, chips, fruit and drinks while enjoying the camaraderie of fellow trail enthusiasts!

Wear protective clothing (long-legged pants, long-sleeved shirts, sunglasses), sturdy shoes, gloves, hat and sunscreen.

No experience is necessary and you work at a pace that is comfortable for you. Tools and instructions on how to use them safely and effectively will be provided. Must be 18+ years of age or accompanied by a parent or other responsible adult. Beware of poison oak, ticks & rattlesnakes.

Follow directions of park rangers and trail crew leaders at all times.

Pre-registration is required so that COSCA will have enough tools, crew leaders and food!

Directions to the meeting place and other details are included on the online registration page.

Report on Feb 21 Wood Canyon Vista Trail Restoration, and Photos

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

As part of the restoration process of the trails in Pt Mugu State Park after the heavy rains and mudslides in December 2014, twelve volunteers from CORBA, along with about two dozen hikers, trail runners and navy personnel, spent this past Saturday working on the Wood Canyon Vista Trail, a segment of the Backbone Trail. Trail crew leaders from CORBA and the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council led the volunteers, showing them how to properly, safely and effectively fix the trails using hand tools.

We had three tasks: repairing the ruts caused by water flowing down the middle of the trail, creating and repairing drains to direct water off of it, and leveling the tread where mud had flowed across it, making it uneven.

About two weeks previously, a smaller crew had worked on the bottom one-third mile of this 1.8-mile long trail. The remaining 1.4 miles was split into three; CORBA was assigned the lowest third. The trail runners worked on the top third after most of them ran to their work area from the parking on Potrero Road. The rest of us carpooled from Potrero to the bottom of the trail on the main Sycamore Canyon Trail in as few cars as possible.

Fields of wildflowers surrounded us as we worked to restore the trail.

Fields of wildflowers surrounded us as we worked to restore the trail.

On the hike to the work area and during the frequent rest breaks, we took in and talked about the carpets of green and fields of wildflowers next to the trails – lupines, California poppies, wild hyacinths (blue dicks), shooting stars and more. I’ve never seen so many wildflowers there before, and never more than a few California poppies. On Saturday, we saw thousand of them, if not tens of thousands, with every indication that there would be more to come! The last time we were here was after the Springs Fire when the ground was barren and charred. What a difference a little rain can make!

When we were finished, long stretches of the trail were leveled to remove the center rut, and many drainage nicks were cleared of debris or built anew. In some places, the old ones were so full and covered by grass that we couldn’t tell where they used to be.

All in all, a great group of volunteers contributed to another successful trail restoration project!

You can view more photos in our photo gallery for this project.

Scouting the trails of newly re-opened Pt Mugu State Park

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Here is what I found when I rode all the multi-use trails a few days after Pt Mugu State Park re-opened on January 30th. The park had been closed since mid-December when heavy rains brought mudslides to the fire-denuded park. During the closure, heavy equipment was used to clear up the extensive damage on the fire roads, and small groups of volunteers were fixing some bad spots on singletrack trails, using hand tools. In fact, volunteer groups will be converging on the park throughout February to help fix the trails. You can help! Here’s the schedule: 2015-01-22 PMSP Trailwork Schedule.

My first impression was that there were a lot of people in the park for a Tuesday morning. No doubt they were as curious about its condition as I was. (There are a number of photos below that show a typical condition, and a much larger photo gallery to show more trail problems, large and small.) One pleasant surprise was that the wildflowers are coming out, in abundance in some places. I’ve included pictures of some of them in the photo gallery.

I entered the park from the north end, through Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa. There are signs posted at the entrance to Pt Mugu State Park (PMSP) indicating that you can’t get through to the coast, and that there is no water in the park.

On the main Sycamore Canyon Fireroad, there were numerous shallow mudslides that had come down the hill and crossed the road. Some were narrow and others were quite wide. All of them had been cleaned up. The whole road was smooth and quite broad. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to the campground because the road was closed south of the point where Overlook Fireroad comes into it.

Piles of dirt that were removed from the main Sycamore Canyon Fireroad.

Sin Nombre and Two Foxes Trails had had lots of tiny mudflows across them, leaving small ridges perpendicular to the trail. They make for a bit of a bumpy ride. There were several ruts in the hillside above and below the trail where a small stream crossed, but did very little or no damage to the trail. There were a few spots where larger streams did damage the trail, leaving ruts and/or rocks and dirt.

A small stream crossed Sin Nombre but did little damage to the trail.

On the Wood Canyon Vista Trail, a segment of the Backbone Trail, there were five notable kinds of features on the trail. Most noticeable was the lack of serviceable drainage dips. Of the 84 drains we installed after the Springs Fire in 2013, almost all were choked with debris, and many couldn’t even be distinguished from the rest of the trail. Large stretches of trail had mud and water flowing across it, leaving small ridges perpendicular to the trail. Other large stretches had water running down the trail, removing all the dirt and sand, leaving a very rocky surface. The clay stretch about 2/3 of the way up has become deeply trenched and rutted. Finally, some trailwork has already been done, and there the surface was generally smoother and outsloped, but slightly loose.

Water running down the Wood Canyon Vista Trail has removed most of the dirt, leaving a lot of exposed rocks.

Climbing the old ranch road section of Guadalasca, I saw a lot of damage. However, it was mostly easy to avoid because the trail there follows an old wide roadbed. The top 20% of the singletrack downhill, where we had worked after the Springs Fire, was in very good shape. However, it was a different story for the rest, where it had already been quite rutted. Most of it was only slightly worse, but the worst sections were much worse than they had been. You can avoid the ruts now by using the very edge of the trail, but that won’t be an option once the vegetation grows up again. In the two places where the trail crossed a small stream with a culvert under the trail, the culvert had become blocked and the upstream streambed was completely filled with silt, while below the trail, the streambed was scoured down to bare rocks. The trail crossing the stream had acted as a dam and held back the dirt and rocks that were washing downstream. Finally, the lower old ranch road section had also become much more rutted, and the culverts under the trail had become exposed.

A really bad section on Guadalasca

During the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Day in April 2014, a large group of volunteers essentially rebuilt the Sage Trail. After the December flooding, the trail remains mostly intact, but we were very lucky that it wasn’t annihilated. The trail runs near the outside edge of an old roadbed. For most of it’s length, water and mud streamed down between the trail and the hillside creating a wide trench, crossing the trail occasionally and flowing off the edge. Most of the armoring rock walls we built to protect previous washouts were intact, but the water flowed around them to enlarge the washouts, generally on the downhill side. Two of the armoring walls didn’t fare well at all.

The next heavy rain may obliterate sections of the Sage Trail if the rut gets much wider.

Finally, here’s what you can see in one spot at the side of the Wood Canyon Vista Trail.

California Poppies at the side of the Wood Canyon Vista Trail

Don’t forget, you can help restore the trails! Here’s the schedule for volunteer work days: 2015-01-22 PMSP Trailwork Schedule.

School Mountain Bike Teams Help Build a New Trail in Calabasas

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Riders, coaches and parents from Calabasas HS, AE Wright Middle School, Royal HS and other schools in Simi Valley spent six hours this past Saturday to build 300 yards of a new trail. This was half the length of a trail that was roughed in last year to bypass the swamp along the Historic Trail, part of the New Millennium Loop trail system in Calabasas.

The day started at 8:30 AM when the 27 volunteers, including a trail crew leader from each of CORBA and the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council, plus Pat McQuaid, fire crew chief for the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (who owns the land we were working), listened to the safety talk, grabbed tools, then hiked the half mile to the work area. CORBA’s crew leader explained the work that was to be done, then demonstrated how to use the tools safely and effectively. The work was to widen the trail from the current 1-foot to 3-4 feet, ensuring a slight outslope so rain water would run off.

The tail end of the caterpillarThe teams started to work on the trail in groups of about 6, each with their own section of trail to complete before moving on to another section. Because of recent rains, the soil was soft and easy to dig into, but as we got a little deeper, we hit heavy, sticky clay that often stuck to the tools, making them much heavier to lift that they otherwise were.

At noon, we broke for a hearty lunch of Subway sandwiches, delivered by CORBA’s president, Steve Messer.  After the half-hour break, we headed back to work for another hour. Pat McQuaid showed us the technique the fire crews use to build trails – the pace picked up a lot, but it was probably too tiring for volunteers to use for the whole day.

These teams, part of the SoCal High School Cycling League, are committed to several trailwork days in the year, and this was the first for 2015. The next ones will be squeezed into their busy spring training and racing schedule.

CORBA thanks the teams, their schools and the league for the support of maintaining and building new trails. Everyone did a great job and we’re looking forward to the next event in about a month!

You can see more photos of the event in our high school trailwork photo gallery. (Thanks to Diana from Simi Valley for adding her photos to CORBA’s!)

January 22nd Update on the Pt Mugu State Park Trails

Monday, January 26th, 2015

On Thursday January 22nd, we got an update of the status and future of Pt Mugu State Park by Dale Skinner. Dale manages trail maintenance for the State Parks for the SMMtns.

By way of background… The Springs Fire of May 2013 burned all the chaparral and some of the large trees throughout the park and the plant roots that normally hold the soil together were destroyed. Without this support, the heavy rains in December resulted in large mudslides in the park, burying or washing away some of the trails and impacting almost all of them. The photo below shows what remains of the main Sycamore Canyon Fireroad.

SAM_0886.jpg

You can see more photos of the damage in this Pt Mugu State Park mudslide gallery.

Since the mudslides, the park has been closed while bulldozers and other heavy equipment are used to restore the trails.

State Parks superintendent for the SMMtns, Craig Sap, is considering opening the north half of the park before repairs are completed on the south (ocean) side. The boundary would be the Wood Canyon Vista Trail, both at the bottom on the main Sycamore Canyon Trail and at the top on Overlook. That is, the trails would be closed south of the Wood Canyon Vista Trail.

It’s not yet know if this would happen, and if it does, when it would take effect. We may not know until the end of the month, when the current closure order expires and a new one would be posted.

It seems certain that at least the south half of the park will be closed past Jan 31. That’s because the damage to Sycamore Fireroad was extensive. Dale mentioned some ruts that are 4′ deep. Basically the stream overflowed its banks and decided that the road would be the new streambed. State Parks is trucking in tons of dirt to replace what was washed away. The dirt is coming from the PCH and other areas where stuff was washed down from the hillsides. It sounds like they’re going to elevate the road a little, I guess so future floods won’t go down the road.

The parking area for Chumash Trail was filled with several feet of dirt and the bottom of the trail was washed away. The dirt has been removed and it sounds like the bottom of the trail has been rebuilt (I’m not certain about this, but I do know that the Chumash Trail is one of the most popular trails in the SMMs).

Other trails didn’t fare so well. The La Jolla Canyon Trail was completely eliminated at the waterfall, not too far from the bottom. It’s just moved itself to the bottom of the ocean. Dale figures that trail will be closed for a year while they rebuild it. If you’ve every hiked up that trail, you’ll understand why it will be a huge effort to rebuilt it. To get past the waterfalls, they essentially had to carve steps into the rock cliff.

The Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail is also washed away in at least one spot, but Dale hopes that can be re-opened in a month or two.

Regarding the PCH, Dale thinks CalTrans is optimistic in their assessment of when it will re-open. There are two washouts where the road, at least in part, has collapsed all the way down to beach level.

I hope this has been somewhat illuminating about what’s going on. For now, it looks like we’ll have to wait until the end of the month to see when the upper part of the park will be opened.

As we wait for the park to re-open, the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council, with support from CORBA and other groups, has organized a number of work days for volunteers to help restore the trails. Because of many years of budget cutbacks, State Parks is not able afford to fix the park by themselves and they rely on volunteers to help.

Our Meetup group is having a work day on Feb 21st to help with restoration work on the Wood Canyon Vista Trail segment of the Backbone Trail. Everyone would be grateful if you’re able to volunteer to help out! No experience is necessary, and we’ll provide the tools and instructions on how to use them safely and effectively.

You can sign up for the restoration event here: http://www.meetup.com/CORBAmtb/events/219897835/

We’re hoping to get 15 volunteers but currently we are far short of that goal (Thanks to those who have signed up already!).

The Trails Council trail crew has a number of other work days set up for February on various trails. Below is the schedule and contact information if you’d like to help out. The meeting time is 8:30 am and return to the cars by 2:30 pm.

Saturday, January 31: Wood Canyon Vista Trail (multiuse segment of the Backbone Trail), contact John Kross/Jerry Mitcham (805) 587-0721

Wednesday, February 4: Serrano Canyon Trail, contact Barry Dydyk 805-499-5627.

Saturday, February 7: Chumash Trail, contact Dave Edwards 805-985-3728 h 805-279-3029 c

Wednesday, February 11: Chumash Trail, contact George Sherman/Dave Edwards (805) 490-0381

Saturday, February 14: Blue Canyon Trail (segment of the Backbone Trail), contact Jerry Mitcham 818-406-1269

Wednesday, February 18: Hidden Pond Trail, contact Norm Simmonds (805) 523- 7250

Saturday, February 21: Wood Canyon Vista Trail (multiuse segment of the Backbone Trail), contact the CORBA Meetup Event.

Wednesday, February 25: Wood Canyon Vista Trail (multiuse segment of the Backbone Trail), contact Norm Simmonds (805) 523-7250.

Saturday, February 28: Fossil Trail, contact John Kross/Jerry Mitcham (805) 587-0721.

Report on December 6th Backbone Trailwork and Photos

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

IMG_0461[1]On Saturday, December 6th, a dozen CORBA volunteers and about half as many from the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council returned to the 2.5-mile long singletrack section of the Backbone Trail between Mulholland Hwy and Etz Meloy Motorway to continue the work we had started on November 8th. As before, the Trails Council crew hiked up to where they had previously worked down to, and continued down. CORBA volunteers worked up the trail from where we had left off last month.

We focused on clearing brush from the edge of the trail, but four volunteers took tread working tools to clear out old drains, and install new ones if needed. It had rained a few days earlier so we could clearly see where the water was running down the trail.

We’ll have to return in 2015 to finish off this section of the backbone trail.

Check out our photo gallery to see more dedicated volunteers at work!

IMBA Trail Building School in San Diego, Dec 6

Monday, November 17th, 2014
IMBA Trail Care Crew Visit with CORBA

IMBA Trail Care Crew’s last Visit with CORBA

Our friends and colleagues at the San Diego Mountain Bike Association will be hosting the IMBA Trail Care Crew on Saturday, December 6, from 9 a.m to 4 p.m.  If you missed out on the class hosted by CORBA and Mount Wilson Bicycling Association and would like to attend, you’re in luck. The IMBA Trail Care Crew trailbuilding class is free and open to anyone. Below are the details from SDMBA.


 

Trail Building School featuring the IMBA Trail Care Crew

Saturday, December 6th, from 9am ­ – 4pm

Locations:

IMBA Trail Building School: Crest Elementary School, 9am ­ – Noon, 2000 Suncrest Blvd., Crest, CA 92021

Field Demonstration/Trail Work: Crestridge Ecological Reserve, 1pm ­ – 4pm, 1171 Horsemill Road, Crest, CA 92021

The San Diego Mountain Biking Association regularly invites the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s (IMBA) Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew to visit our area. They will be in San Diego the weekend of December 4th­ – 7th to talk trails, teach people proper trail building technique and spend quality time digging in the dirt. The visit is one of 38 stops on the 2014 schedule. Each crew visit is anchored around IMBA’s highly­respected Trail Building School, during which the crew teaches sustainable trail construction and maintenance via a classroom session, followed by hands­on trail work.

If you’d like to learn more about sustainable trail design, building, and maintenance then you’ll get a lot out of this day. We’ll provide a light breakfast before the Trail School and lunch after the classroom session and before the field demonstration/trail work.

Cost: Through the generous support of Subaru, Trek, Yakima and REI we provide this training day at no cost.

Registration: For more information and to register for the IMBA Trail building School, contact:  Gardner Grady, SDMBA Crestridge Liaison: gardner(at)sdmba(dot)com

Register online here. Scroll down and click “Register Now” and then click the “yes” button under “TCC ­ Attending the IMBA Trail Building School?”

 

Report on the November 8th Backbone Trailwork and Photos

Sunday, November 9th, 2014
Google Earth view of our work area, looking north-west. The CORBA crew worked the bottom (green) and the Trails Council crew worked the top (yellow) of this 2.5-mile long segment of the Backbone Trail. Mulholland Hwy (23-S) is at the bottom of the image. The trail ends at Etz Meloy Motorway.

Google Earth view of our work area, looking north-west. The CORBA crew worked the bottom (green) and the Trails Council crew worked the top (yellow) of this 2.5-mile long segment of the Backbone Trail. Mulholland Hwy (23-S) is at the bottom of the image. The trail ends at Etz Meloy Motorway.

On Saturday, November 8th, 13 CORBA volunteers and 6-8 from the Santa Monica Trails Council combined forces to fix up the 2.5-mile long singletrack section of the Backbone Trail between Mulholland Hwy and Etz Meloy Motorway. The gentle grade of this trail, combined with sweeping turns, easy switchbacks, great views and connections to the rest of the Backbone Trail make this a favorite for mountain bikers.

Being more used to working a distance from the trailhead, the Trails Council crew hiked to the top and worked their way down while the CORBA crew started near the bottom and worked up the trail. We skipped the first few hundred feet because of the presence of invasive weeds; we didn’t want to spread the seeds around by disturbing these aggressive plants. Both groups completed about a half-mile of trail.

We focused on removing brush at the side of the trail, but a few workers concentrated on removing silt and other debris from the drains. Our priority is generally to make sure the trails are well drained so rainwater doesn’t erode ruts down the middle. The drains on this trail were plentiful and well designed when the trail was built about seven years ago, so we didn’t need to build any new ones as we do on most trails.

Check out our photo gallery to see more dedicated volunteers at work!

IMG_0388

COSCA Annual Trailwork Day attracts 150 volunteers; 0.6 miles of trail built/repaired

Monday, October 20th, 2014

This past Saturday, October 18, almost 150 volunteers turned out to help rebuild the Conejo Crest Trail and a connector between this trail and the White Horse Canyon Trail in Thousand Oaks. This included 20 CORBA volunteers and several riders from nearby high school mountain biking teams. The work was divided into 5 distinct projects.

Chopping out a stump on the new trail to bypass the Descent of Death

Chopping out a stump on the new trail to bypass the Descent of Death

The most important was to build a reroute around the Descent of Death (watch the video of mountain bikers on the Descent of Death). This new trail is just over 1000′ long, compared to 680′ for the Descent itself, so it is about 1/3 less steep. Three crews were assigned to this challenging section with lots of big rocks, some very steep cross slopes, and many sturdy stumps to remove. The amount of work needed was more than could be accomplished by the available volunteers in just 3 working hours, so COSCA will complete this section later. However, the most difficult parts were completed so the bypass trail is open for use.

The connector to White Horse Canyon Trail is very rocky because rainwater has washed away all the soil. We removed the biggest and loosest of these rocks.

The connector to White Horse Canyon Trail is very rocky because rainwater has washed away all the soil. We removed the biggest and loosest of these rocks.

At the bottom of the bypass trail is a connector trail to the White Horse Canyon Trail. This 835′ long connector goes straight down the hill with no diversions to get the water off it. As a result, rainwater has run straight down it for years and it has become very rutted, and rocky where the soil, sand and smallest rocks have been washed away. In addition, it was somewhat overgrown. Three crews were assigned to this section to clear the brush, remove the worst of the loose rocks and build drainages to get the water off and minimize future runoff erosion. These crews finished early and went on to help build the bypass trail. Another crew was working to remove loose rocks from the Conejo Crest Trail for about 1100′ from the top of the Descent of Death. The bypass trail crossed an illegally built trail that ran from the top of the Descent of Death almost straight down the hill to the Los Robles East Trail (Edison Road). A ranger-led crew worked to rehabilitate the ground around this trail, to restore as much as possible the natural contour of the land. Berms and jumps were knocked down and raked over. The trail was blocked to prevent future use and further erosion and degradation of the public open space. Finally, a group of youngsters worked to beautify the trailhead to the Triunfo Trail at Triunfo Community Park by raking out the trail, building a pretty border out of rocks, and planting native plants in the bare area next to the trail.

Enjoying the lunch prepared by the COSCA rangers after trailwork was finished

Enjoying the lunch prepared by the COSCA rangers after trailwork was finished

After the work period, the volunteers gathered at Triunfo Park to enjoy a barbecue lunch prepared by the COSCA Rangers. About a dozen people won prizes in the give-away to thank the workers, including one lucky volunteer who won a Giant mountain bike. You can see more photos of the work in our gallery of trailwork photos. The trail crew leaders were COSCA rangers and volunteers from CORBA and the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council. These folks and the organizations they represent would like to give a hearty thanks and shout-out to all the volunteers who help keep the trails in great shape for all trail users!

COSCA Annual Trailwork Day Oct 18th

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Come out and join the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA), CORBA, the Santa Monica Trails Council and other volunteers for the 24th Annual COSCA Trailwork Day in Thousand Oaks on October 18, 2014. The trail we will be building/repairing will be announced soon.

COSCA will treat participants to lunch afterwards and have a drawing for some great door prizes. Participants who register with our Meetup event will also be eligible for the end-of-year drawing for a Niner frame and other prizes!

For full details and to register, see our registration page. We hope to see a good turnout of local mountain bikers at this event!