Archive for the ‘Trail Crew’ Category

Santa Monica Mtns Trail Days at Sycamore Canyon Apr 24-26

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Once a year we have an opportunity to work on the trails and then BBQ and camp at Danielson Ranch in Pt Mugu State Park. It is opened annually for the Santa Monica Trail Days! This is a unique opportunity to work on the trails that we enjoy so much in Sycamore Canyon, and the Saturday workday is followed by a BBQ and prizes, with free camping available on Friday and/or Saturday night. This is hands down the best day to get in some trail maintenance work! Camping is optional; you may leave with the escort after the BBQ. There will be trailwork projects on both Saturday and Sunday. Sign up for one or both! Pre-registration is requested by April 21st so we’ll know how many people to prepare for.

Schedule at a glance

Friday night April 24 – arrive for overnight camping (optional). Bagels and hot beverages supplied Saturday morning for campers.

Saturday April 25Trailwork, barbecue dinner, prize give-away. Bring your own lunch. Optional overnight camping. Bagels and hot beverages supplied Sunday morning for campers.

Sunday April 26Trailwork, prize give-away. Bring your own lunch.

You can volunteer to help out on Saturday, Sunday, or both.

BRING: LUNCHES, BEVERAGES, SNACKS AND WATER. Tools and instruction on using them are provided.

WEAR: Gloves, hat, long pants, protective clothing, and work boots or sturdy shoes.

REGISTRATION: Advance registration is required for the activities shown below, and appreciated by April 21st!

Saturday Registration: http://www.meetup.com/CORBAmtb/events/221130358/
Sunday Registration: http://www.meetup.com/CORBAmtb/events/221130376/

TRAILWORK: Saturday and/or Sunday. Help out with one or both! There are also opportunities to help out in the camp instead of trailwork.

CAMPING: Free camping Friday and/or Saturday nights for volunteers at the Danielson Multi-use Area located under the sycamores and oaks in the heart of Point Mugu State Park. Bring your own gear.

DINNER: Sat. Night Barbecue Free FOR VOLUNTEERS. Bring appetizers and beverages.

PRIZES: Thank-you prize give-aways will be held Saturday after dinner and Sunday after trailwork.

VEHICLE ACCESS: You will be able to caravan into and out of the park by vehicle only at these few designated times:

ARRIVE: Friday – 5 pm and 7 pm. Saturday – 7:30 am and 4:30 pm Sunday – 7:30 am

DEPART: Saturday – 4 pm and about 9 pm. Sunday – 8 am and 2:30 pm

Full details and camping/dining details are also provided on the registration pages.

Another successful COSCA Trail Work Day held March 21st

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Over 100 volunteers, including 16 from CORBA, gathered in the Hill Canyon region of Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks to help with the 2015 COSCA Spring Trail Work Day. The volunteers broke into six crews and worked on three different trails.

Crews 1 and 2 worked on the Gas Line Road, a dirt road that leads from Hill Canyon to the Canyon Overlook Trail that was build during the 2012 Spring COSCA Trail Work Day. Most people cleared loose rocks from the road and filled in some ruts, while a few built a short access singletrack from the parking area at the bottom.

CORBA volunteers pose in front of the ditch to keep rain water off the chicane near the bottom of the Lizard Rock Trail.

CORBA volunteers pose in front of the ditch to keep rain water off the chicane near the bottom of the Lizard Rock Trail.

Three crews worked the bottom of Lizard Rock Trail, leveling the tread where ruts had started to form, clearing overgrowing brush, building a reroute of a few hundred feet, and building a long ditch to keep water off a chicane. The latter is where the CORBA crew worked, and spent most of their effort.

Among the CORBA volunteers were five members of the Calabasas high school mountain biking club and two parents. There was another contingent from Newbury Park High School working with one of the other crews.

The final crew worked on the Eagle Point Trail, clearing dirt from the many steps and doing brush removal.

The Santa Monica Trails Council trail crew did much of the preparatory work, and fielded crew leaders for all crews except for CORBA’s.

All the volunteers gathered back at the parking area about noon for the barbecue provided by the COSCA rangers. The turn out was unexpectedly large, about double previous years; even so there were plenty of burgers (beef and veggie), hot dogs, chips and sodas for everybody.

Thanks to the CORBA volunteers and others for helping to keep the local trails in great condition!

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

Topanga State Park Fire Road Maintenance

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

California State Parks will be performing maintenance on all fire roads throughout the park. The project is underway and will take several weeks. This is considered routine maintenance, to restore the fire roads to their intended purpose, as well as to prevent further degradation of the roads and impacts to the environment.

Eagle Springs Loop now undergoing road maintenance

Eagle Springs Loop now undergoing road maintenance

Every time maintenance of this type is done, we know that there are many experienced mountain bikers who don’t like the changes. Having our favorite “challenging sections” smoothed over often comes as a surprise. On the other hand, some riders welcome the improvements. But regardless, the fire roads will change.

Why is this being done? Fire roads are primarily transportation corridors for fire fighting, emergency vehicle access, administrative work within the parks, and for recreation. Over time, all dirt fire roads degrade and begin to develop ruts and water channels form. Once the ruts begin to form, rain will then extend and deepen those ruts. This creates additional challenge for cyclists, but it also makes it more difficult for the State Parks administration to do their job of managing the park. Their primary mission is to preserve the park and it’s natural resources for us and our future generations.

Currently fire road maintenance work is being done on the Eagle Springs loop to repair existing damage, reduce future maintenance needs, and to provide additional protection of the environment. The Regional Water Quality Control Board mandates State Parks and other land managers to reduce sediments washed into the creeks and streams. Studies have demonstrated that fire roads are major contributors to this problem. State Parks had to determine which fire roads were causing the most erosion and sediment runoff in both Malibu Creek State Park and Topanga State Park. They have identified Eagle Springs loop as a priority project.

State Parks are currently outsloping as many areas of the roads as possible. We always try to outslope trails when we do trail maintenance. Outsloping helps shed water off the trail or road. Insloped roads carry and channel water and the more water carried causes more erosion. In some particularly bad areas in Topanga State Park, roads have lost about five feet of material across the whole eighteen feet of width of the road.

The sediment washed off these roads heavily impacts streams and creeks in the parks as it makes its way to Santa Monica Bay. On a state-wide basis State Parks has turned to outsloping all back country roads and trails. This has shown to reduce erosion and be a more sustainable maintenance practice. In the long run sediment runoff will be greatly reduced, further protecting the streams, creeks and the environment as a whole.

Eagle Rock Fire Road was given the highest priority in Topanga since it showed the heaviest erosion. It was no longer accessible by vehicles. It was also causing damage and erosion on Musch Trail, which joins the road.

State Parks appreciates your understanding, and CORBA, supports their efforts to reduce impacts to the environment. We all want to protect the places we play and ride. If that means grading over a section of road to make it more sustainable, we’re fine with that. The alternative is to decommission the road and close it to all users, something none of want to see.

During and for some time after construction, the roads will not be very pretty, and may be soft and loose until the tread gets packed down. In time, they’ll return to a more natural looking state. Most mountain bike injuries occur on fire roads, due to the ease with which we can gain speed. So as we ride these newly graded roads, remember to be safe, and that there is a 15mph speed limit on all trails and fire roads within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

 

 

Report on Feb 28 Bark Park Trail Restoration, and Photos

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

The New Millennium Loop trail system in Calabasas is very popular among mountain bikers and others, but it has very little if any maintenance since the trails were built a number of years ago as part of The Oaks gated community. In general, they have held up pretty well, but nature is taking its relentless toll.

Recently, high-schoolers with the SoCal High School Cycling League, with help from CORBA and the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council, have been helping to restore these trails. On January 31, they helped complete a new trail along the Historic Loop segment that bypasses the swamp. This past Saturday, February 28th, ten kids from Calabasas and Newbury Park mountain bike clubs and 5 young sailors from Naval Base Ventura County, with guidance from CORBA and Trails Council trail crew leaders, repaired about 0.8 miles of the Bark Park Trail.

Young sailors working on an upslope switchback drainage

Young sailors working on an upslope switchback drainage

With the heavy rains in December, ruts started to develop along the trail and a sinkhole about 6′ long and 3-4′ deep appeared. We were going to fix that and address the drainage issues on the trail above it that caused it to appear. Sometime in the couple of weeks before our trailwork day, someone filled in the sinkhole, saving us some time, but we still needed to widen and level the trail around where it had been. Also, the tread had to be repaired so the water would run off it, rather than down it and enlarging the ruts.

Over the next few hours, about 15-20 drainage nicks were built and parts of the trail were restored to their original flat but slightly out-sloped state, to enable rainwater to run straight off the outside edge. Three switchback drains were also cleared of vegetation and silt to restore them to their original condition.

When we were finished, we moved to nearby Sharky’s for a hearty lunch of Mexican food.

You can see more photos of the event in our Bark Park trailwork photo gallery. Thanks to the high-schoolers and sailors who came out to help – everyone did a great job!

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!