Earlier this year, CORBA used a generous grant from REI to help fund the restoration of the Gabrielino trail to Oakwilde Campground and the Ken Burton trail junction. Pooling resources with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, CORBA helped fund a private contractor, Bellfree Contractors, to oversee volunteers and Conservation Corps crews, taking the lead on the project. The trailwork needed was so extensive it required the review and approval of Forest Service staff engineers. Much of the trail was completely gone, having been swept away in a massive landslide, or gouged into a ten-foot-deep, twelve-foot wide gully where once you could step over a trickle of water as it crossed the trail. That work was begun last spring, and Los Angeles Conservation Corps continue to work on the Gabrielino in the area. The Trail remains closed to the public beyond Paul Little campground/Brown Mountain Dam while restoration efforts continue.
Meanwhile, we were given permission to begin work on the Ken Burton trail earlier in summer. Work began in October with the trail being inspected, and in many cases searched for using older GPS tracks, by CORBA volunteers. On Saturday, November 7th six volunteers came out to begin work on the trail. Just getting to the work site requires a 2000′ climb over 7 miles, with several steep, loose sections that are difficult without carrying tools. In one day’s work, we were able to clear brush from about a quarter mile of trail, and restore tread on just over half of that. The tread, once cleared of brush, is generally filled with loose slough that’s easy to clear, but is otherwise intact. A few retaining wall structures near the top have failed and will require digging out the old materials–iron posts, steel mesh, wire and screen–and replacing them.
On Sunday, November 8, we worked with the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association’s and had a crew of about 18 come out to begin work. Several volunteers stepped up to haul bob trailers full of tools, no easy feat with over 2000′ of climbing. With hedge clippers doing the initial clearing, followed by a rake or Mcleod to clear the cut brush, followed by a loppers and pick-mattocks to pull roots, and finished off with a nice outsloping by Mcleod, we had it down to a system. The brush on day two was much thicker than the day before, but we were able to clear about another quarter mile of trail, and with the extra hands, do another quarter mile of basic treadwork.
After both days of trailwork the crews enjoyed a great meal and some local hospitality. Many thanks to everyone who came out for the work. This trail is special to many people, having been built by mountain bikers, the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, in the early 90’s. Special kudos to Brad, Burt, Mike, Robin, and Steve who came out both days!
We’ll be back out on the trail this Sunday, November 22, again with Mount Wilson Bicycling Association. And if there’s enough interest (and the weather/fire danger cooperates), another crew could head up on Saturday instead (or in addition!). At the moment, we’re approaching capacity on Mount Wilson Bicycling Association’s Facebook Event. For that reason this weekend’s trailwork isn’t being added to CORBA’s meetup calendar. However, a tentative third weekend on Sunday, December 13 is in the works. Stay tuned for details. The Forest Service requires our volunteers to wear long pants, long sleeves, gloves and hard hats which we supply (and with the thick brush, all that gear is a good idea). These can be carried up in backpacks for the ride up and changed into before we start work.
Ken Burton trail is closed to the public. Although we’ve started on it, it’s still dead-end with miles of hike-a-bike through heavy unrideable brush and poison oak once you get beyond our short restored section. People have gotten lost trying to find the trail. We’ll continue working on Ken Burton through the winter and coming Spring, with the goal of having it, and the Gabrielino back to Paul Little and JPL, ready to open by the end of Spring 2016. The more involved you stay, the more likely the Forest Service will open the Brown/Burton/Gab loop, an old favorite of many long-time mountain bikers.