Archive for the ‘Trail Crew’ Category

Ken Burton Trail Restoration – Days 12 and 13

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Day 12, March 3, 2016

On Thursday, March 3, CORBA and MWBA Volunteer Sawyers and some additional dedicated volunteers continued work on the Ken Burton trail. This time they started at the bottom of the trail, from its junction with the Gabrielino National Recreation Trail, working up the lower switchbacks through a tangle of downed trees, poison oak, overgrowth, and near-impossible wayfinding. Using chainsaws was the only viable means of cutting through the several fallen oak trees that once shaded this beautiful old oak grove. This shaded oak grove was often a popular spot to re-group after challenging oneself to clean all the switchbacks, before attempting the most difficult between there and the Gabrielino trail.

Steve Messer had spent February 20 flagging out the original trail, using a combination of GPS tracks, searching for ground evidence of dirt compaction that may still be found even after six years, and a good memory of one of his favorite trail loops.

The group made what appeared an impossible task look relatively easy, working carefully to cut brush, downed trees, and have swampers carry away and stash the cuttings. It was most gratifying to follow the string of ribbons, and find the original tread under all that brush and debris. We made it to the 17th switchback, our target for the day.

Day 13, March 13, 2016

Erik from MWBA cuts through the brush

Erik from MWBA cuts through the brush


Ten days later, on Sunday, March 13, 2016, was our 13th group trailwork day. It was especially encouraging to see that all our previous work has held up perfectly to the recent rain and storms, with no rutting, and soil being packed down nicely. The first sections we worked on last November are maturing nicely.

Our 13th worday on Sunday March 13, was a milestone day.  With 21 volunteers out putting in a 7 hours or more, we were able to do a first-pass brushing on the last remaining section of trail, linking to our March 3rd work and to the bottom of the trail. This was a great milestone in this restoration project, now in its sixth month. We had cut brush from the entire trail corridor.

While the brushing tools and swampers diligently plugged away to reopen the trail corridor, the tread crew made quick work of the tread on about .3 miles of trail. With the damp dirt, cool temperatures, and sense of determination among the volunteers–many of whom have worked multiple days on this project–we had an extremely productive day.

Ryan and Stephanie work on tread restoration

Ryan and Stephanie work on tread restoration

There is still work to do on the 16th switchback, but it was rendered temporarily passable for the day. The last half mile of the trail is far from finished, needing a second pass with the hedge trimmers and extensive treadwork. But with some careful hike a bike the group was able to ride out the bottom of the trail, completing the loop with the closed Gabrielino trail. It was a truly gratifying day for all who made it.

We currently estimate two to three more days working on the bottom of Ken Burton trail, and an additional day on the Gabrielino trail between Oakwilde/Ken Burton and Paul Little.

We were also joined by an Ultra Distance runner, and past AC100 runner. Many trail runners are just as excited to get this trail opened as mountain bikers. During our last two days of work and long before we were finished brushing the corridor, we had hikers come up from the bottom, bushwhacking their way through until they heard us, then asking where the trail was. After reminding them the trail was closed to the public and we were working as Forest Service volunteers to rebuild it, he headed on beyond our work area for a leisurely stroll up the newly groomed segment of the trail, and all the way to Brown Mountain. People put far too much faith in outdated maps and information.

After loading up tools, the group rode out via the Gabrielino trail back to the trailhead and our meeting spot. This section of the Gabrielino trail was worked on two years ago by Bellfree Contractors. volunteers, and the Los Angeles Conservation Corps with the financial support in the form of an REI grant to CORBA, and funding from the Forest Service for the project. While the section was rebuilt, it has been two years and it also once again needs some minor work.  Between Oakwilde and Bear Canyon the trail is in poor condition and almost entirely gone and unrecognizable for a long stretch. Plans are underway to continue work on rebuilding that section of the Gabrielino, once again in partnership with the LACC, USFS, Bellfree Contractors and REI.

Both the Gabrielino between Paul Little and Bear Canyon junction, and the Ken Burton trail, remain closed to the public by order of the Forest Service. Please respect the closure until the Forest Service opens the trails. We’re just as eager as everyone else to finish the project and be able to ride, but there are many steps to go through before that can happen, and it is the decision of the Forest Service as to when and if the trail will be opened.


For all the volunteers who have joined us for at least two days, we’ve ordered a special commemorative T-shirts.  It’s our–CORBA and MWBA– way of saying thank you. If you haven’t put in two days, there are a few more coming up starting this weekend and in April.

Ken Burton Restoration Commemmorative T-Shirt


CORBA Palos Verdes Trailwork Report

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016


On Saturday, February 27, 2016, fifteen dedicated CORBA volunteers came out to support the City of Rancho Palos Verdes efforts to restore the Toyon Trail. Organized by long-time CORBA PV coordinator Troy Braswell, the group took part in trail repairs, invasive weed removal, and planting native shrubs. They worked alongside City employees and other volunteers. Cory Linder, from the City’s Parks & Recreation department was on hand to oversee and coordinate all the volunteer efforts.

The City of RPV has been conducting ongoing restoration work every Saturday in February, with the final work day scheduled for this coming weekend, March 5th. To learn more about volunteer opportunities in Rancho Palos Verdes, visit, and stay on top of RPV happenings at CORBA Palos Verdes.

We are happy to see the RPV Parks & Rec department stepping up their volunteer program, and are even happier to be able to contribute. Thanks to all the dedicated volunteers who came out to improve the trails and landscape for everyone!



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.


COSCA Spring Trailwork Day March 19th

Monday, February 29th, 2016

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 Space Mountain (Los Robles West) and other nearby multiuse trails.

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.

Forest Service Chainsaw Certification Classes

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

20150111024-Chainsaw Training Class USFS

CORBA and MWBA volunteer Sawyer crews have been out on trails helping removed downed trees all over the Angeles National Forest. There’s only a handful of us, but we’ve been steadily clearing downed trees off trails in the Angeles and Station Fire burn areas for the past two years. Mountain Bike Action recently ran a story including pictures of our efforts in the March 2016 issue.

Many of our volunteers have expressed interest in becoming certified for chainsaw use.  The Forest Service (Angeles National Forest) currently has two classes scheduled for March:  March 5/6 and March 19/20.

The classes comprise of a Saturday classroom day, and a Sunday field work day. You’ll be required to show proof of a valid First Aid/CPR certification, and a volunteer agreement with the Forest Service. (Volunteer Agreement can be signed at the class. If you don’t have First Aid/CPR, you’ll won’t receive your certification until proof of FA/CPR certification is supplied. You’ll also need to bring long sleeves, long pants, steel-toed 8″ boots, leather gloves, eye projection and hearing protection (earplugs). Certification begins at the A level, allowing you to chainsaw cut smaller, simpler trees under supervision of a B Sawyer or higher. Certification is good for One Year.

After at least one year of experience as an A Sawyer, you’ll be eligible to re-certify and upgrade to a B sawyer, authorized to work unsupervised on larger, more complex trees (currently up to 24″ in diameter). B Sawyer certification is good for two years.  The classes cover both A and B sawyer certifications. Upon successful completion you will be certified at the level appropriate to your experience and demonstrated skill.

These certifications are only for bucking and limbing, NOT for felling trees. Bucking and limbing is all we need to clear downed trees off trails. If you’d like to join the CORBA/MWBA Sawyer crew, or would like to have this certification for use in other areas, RSVP on the facebook events or by email and we’ll share the details.

If you’d like to help our chainsaw crews without operating a chainsaw, we can always use extra hands for swamping (removing what we cut) and traffic control (making sure that trail users don’t stumble into our work site unnanounced). We often work mid-week on Wednesdays or Thursdays to minimize impacts to other trail users.

We expect Saturday classroom sessions to be held at Little Tujunga Ranger Station in the Angeles National Forest, and field days (Sunday) to be determined depending on conditions.

If interested in taking the class, please contact Chris Fabbro, Volunteer Coordinator for the Angeles National Forest, and/or RSVP on our facebook events:

March 5/6

March 19/20



Ken Burton Trail Restoration – Days 9 and 10

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016


Restored Switchback, one of 22.

Restored Switchback, one of 22.

2016-02-21 13.06.01

Trailwork Parking

On Sunday, February 7, MWBA hosted a trailwork day on Ken Burton trail. With 16 volunteers, we cleared an additional .18 miles of trail. Heavy winds and dry Santa Ana conditions prevented us from using all our power tools, so progress was slower than previous days. With volunteer help from professional trailbuilder Hans Kiefer of Bellfree Contractors, three large drainages were made more sustainable using rock retaining walls, rock armoring and lots of sweat!  Using rock collected on site saved the crew from having to haul in additional materials for wire basket structures. The crew restored several switchbacks, added drainage, and brushed and cleared an additional quarter mile of trail.

On Sunday, February 21st, we had fourteen volunteers come out to continue restoration efforts. The group rode to the end of upper Brown Mountain fire road, then continued down the already-completed section of the trail. Bikes were left at a convenient point, below which it would have been a strenuous climb to ride back out, especially after working on the trail. We hiked down the rest of the way to the work site.

Mitch (MWBA) and Mike McGuire were able to brush an additional .19 miles of trail with the powered tools. As we get down to lower elevations, the brush is getting much thicker, taking more time and effort to clear. The rest of the crew concentrated on outsloping, drainage and re-establishing tread on approximately .14 miles of trail. The total work day included approximately .33 miles of trailwork.

Swamping the first pass with the hedge trimmers

Swamping the first pass with the hedge trimmers

The last third of a mile of the trail will require chainsaws to clear the many fallen oak trees. Steve Messer, CORBA president and trail crew leader, flagged out the last half mile based on GPS tracks of the trail before the fire. Ken Burton passed through a beautiful shaded oak grove before dropping down to the Gabrielino trail and Oakwilde Campground. Sadly, many of those oaks were killed and have fallen across what was the trail. Brush has grown into this relatively flat section of trail, and will require extensive chainsaw work to clear. We plan to go in with the CORBA/MWBA sawyer crew (USFS certified chainsaw operator volunteers) to clear those trees before the next scheduled trailwork day.

Riding previously restored section after a day's work

Riding previously restored section after a day’s work

With over 1000 volunteer hours, ten workdays, and several additional prep days by CORBA and MWBA trail crew leaders,  we have so far completed or brushed approximately 1.8 miles of the 2.25 mile trail. What’s left is less than a half mile, including extensive chainsaw work. Weather permitting, we’ll be back out there on March 13, 2016.


Mountain Bike Action and SCOA support CORBA’s Volunteer Sawyer Program

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

2016-03 - P1 - Mountain Bike Action - Trails after the Wildfire by Steve MesserAs we reported last year, Over this past year, CORBA has stepped up our Volunteer Sawyer program within the CORBA Trail Crew. CORBA’s two B-Level Sawyers, Mike McGuire and Steve Messer have worked almost year-round cutting trees off trails around the Station Fire burn area of the Angeles National Forest. We’ve worked side-by-side with Hot Shots fire crews, with Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, with volunteers from other groups, with the Restoration Legacy Crew and others. We’ve cleared trees from more than a dozen trails in the past year, most recently 89 trees from Dawn Mine trail in February.

In the current March 2016 issue of Mountain Bike Action, CORBA President and trail crew leader Steve Messer was interviewed for a story on wildfire impacts to trails, something we’ve been dealing with since the Station Fire. The article is a five-page spread, and features several photos of a typical day of volunteer sawyer work, as we cut a very large tree off Strawberry Peak trail. The article is not yet available online on the Mountain Bike Action web site, but we hope it will be posted publicly in the coming months. Right now it is only available in the print magazine.

20151114006-MWBA Membership Drive Mt. Wilson Ride

This past week Chris from Southern California Outdoor Adventures generously donated a brand new Stihl 291 20″ chainsaw to CORBA. Chris understands the importance of what we’re doing and was happy to make sure we have the best, most efficient 20160211001-Silver Moccasin Chainsaw Trailworkequipment needed to get the job done. This helps his shuttle customers enjoy the trails without obstruction. Our current fleet of saws includes a Stihl 16″, the new 20″ and a 25″ saw. The donated 20″ is a great balance between the portability of the 16″ and the capability of the 25″, and will probably become our go-to saw for most jobs. We truly appreciate the support of Southern California Outdoor Adventures, one of the most respected shuttle operators here in Southern California.

The day we received the new saw, Thursday, February 11, we went out to check on trails in the Chilao area. Given the recent storms and high wind–now followed by a heat wave– we knew there was work to be done. We found a number of trees in the Charlton Flat area, along the closed Vetter Mountain trail, and along Silver Moccasin trail. We removed two large trees from Silver Moccasin, before weather conditions (wind and low humidity) forced us to end the day’s work. The new saw was a dream to run! Thanks SCOA!

New sawyer training is being scheduled sometime in March 2016. Candidate Sawyers must have an existing volunteer agreement with the Forest Service, have first aid and CPR certification. First you will be certified as A-level sawyers, allowing you to cut smaller trees under supervision of a B-level sawyer or higher. After a year at the A-level, sawyers can do the additional training and upgrade to a B-level after which they can cut unsupervised and deal with larger, more complex trail clearing operations. These certifications are restricted to bucking and limbing only, meaning we can clear fallen trees from trails, but we can’t fell standing dead trees. Nor do we need to. Let us know if you’d like to become a certified sawyer and help keep our trails clear.

20160211025-Silver Moccasin Chainsaw Trailwork

Six years after the station fire, the number of standing dead trees within striking distance of trails, roads, campgrounds and other facilities, is staggering. These trees will continue to fall every time there is a weather event. The Forest Service is actively working to remove hazard trees from around vital infrastructure such as campgrounds and roads, but it’s going to be up to volunteer groups like CORBA, Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, Boy Scouts of America, Angeles Crest 100, and San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders sawyer crews to keep our trails clear of downed trees as best we can.

If you find a new downed tree along a trail, or any potentially dangerous or environmentally damaging trail conditions, snap a photo with your phone, record the location and send a quick email to let us know. We’ll either take care of it, or get it to the people who can. It’s best to include a GPS waypoint or position (or simply turn on location tagging on your phone’s camera app).


Trail Days 2016: We Need Your Help to Restore Sycamore Canyon Trails!

Monday, February 8th, 2016

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 Mountains 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 18th so we’ll know how many people to prepare for.

Schedule at a glance

Friday night April 22 – arrive for overnight camping (optional). Bagels and hot beverages supplied Saturday morning for campers.

Saturday April 23Trailwork, barbecue dinner, prize give-away. Bring your own lunch. Optional overnight camping. Bagels and hot beverages supplied Sunday morning for campers.

Sunday April 24Trailwork, 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 18th!

Saturday Registration:
Sunday Registration:

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.

Students Restore the Trancas Canyon Section of the Backbone Trail

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

1Twenty-five high school mountain bike team members and fourteen USC students, along with a few parents, coaches and CORBA and SMMTC trail crew leaders, came out this past Saturday to address the ruts on the Trancas Canyon section of the Backbone Trail.

We installed or fixed about 50 drainage nicks and otherwise repaired water damage over about a mile of the trail.

But two days before, with about 40 student volunteers ready and eager to help, we were afraid that we weren’t going to be able to do restoration work on Saturday! We had planned to work on the Backbone Trail about a mile east of Kanan Road, but we learned on Thursday morning that there was going to be a major trail running event that would see 300 runners passing through our work area. This would not only interfere with our ability to get needed work done (we stop working and step aside when trail users come through the work area), but was a safety concern for the runners. After a large flurry of emails and consulting with some park agencies, we decided to move the event to Trancas Canyon.

As usual, the students threw their youthful exuberance into the tasks and quickly dug out the drainage nicks. They finished about two hours before we expected, so some moved further along the trail and installed a few more nicks, while others worked on widening and resloping.

Many thanks to the students from Simi Valley, Calabasas and El Camino Real High Schools, and from the USC Outdoors Club!

More photos of the event can be seen in our trailwork photo gallery.



Ken Burton Trail Restoration – Day 8

Sunday, January 24th, 2016
Completed trail at the top of the switchbacks

Completed trail at the top of the switchbacks

Sunday, January 24, 2016 we had another successful day of trail restoration. Anyone driving up the Angeles Crest Highway today, who happened to glance across the Arroyo Seco canyon towards Brown Mountain would have seen ten volunteers spread out along the switchbacks, the upper half of which are now clearly visible once again.

Clearing Brush has been a major component of this project

Clearing Brush has been a major component of this project

Scouting the work ahead

Scouting the work ahead

Today we concentrated on brushing the next .25 miles of the trail, which included six switchbacks.  Most of this section has held up extremely well, and only a few places will require rock-armoring and/or drainage restoration.  We took the opportunity to scout and flag the next half mile of trail beyond that, identifying the original trail in places where animals and unauthorized trail users–it is still a closed trail–had created unsustainably steep bypasses around heavy brush and a some rock slides.

Our next trailwork days, tentatively scheduled for February 7, and February 21 (with MWBA) we’ll concentrate on tread work for the section we cleared of brush today. There are no major problem spots along this section. We’ll also continue brushing the trail beyond there to re-establish the trail corridor and better see the condition of the tread. In some sections we scouted, the brush was so thick that there was no way through, forcing us either up the slope or down the slope to get around the brush and back on the remnants of trail tread.


Failed switchback #16 will need extensive work

Failed switchback #16 will need extensive work

The biggest problem section will be at the 16th switchback. Here the switchback itself has been washed away, and we’ll need to do extensive rock work to make the section sustainable and rideable. Much of the area is soft, loose dirt, and the trail is completely filled with brush, slough and debris. Nothing our dedicated volunteers can’t handle!

All in a day's work. The hike/ride back out

All in a day’s work. The hike/ride back out

After today’s work, those volunteers who still had time were treated to lunch at a local restaurant. It is the dedication of these volunteers, many of whom have come out every trailwork day we’ve scheduled, that allows us to keep pushing forward to complete the trail. Major kudos to all of you who have contributed!

Click for a larger view.