Archive for the ‘Trail Crew’ Category

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: http://www.meetup.com/CORBAmtb/events/228713049/
Sunday Registration: http://www.meetup.com/CORBAmtb/events/228713118/

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.

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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.

Giant Bikes Staff Restore Potrero Ridge Trail Switchbacks

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

IMG_1612.jpgFor the second year in a row, staff from Giant Bikes’ US Headquarters in Newbury Park volunteered to spend a morning fixing up a local trail yesterday. COSCA (Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency) Head Ranger Bruce Pace suggested that the switchback section of the Potrero Ridge Trail from the Reino Road trailhead would be a suitable location – it’s very popular among cyclists and the tread hasn’t been repaired for years. This trail was first built in 2005 during a visit from the Suburu/IMBA Trail Care Crew.

IMG_1603.jpgThe Giant staff gathered at the trailhead by 9:00 am. Most of the work was on the tread – cleaning drainage nicks and installing new ones, widening one of the tight switchbacks and restoring a flat and slightly outsloped surface so the water would run off the trail instead of creating a rut by running down the middle. One of the two COSCA rangers who were overseeing the work used a gas-powered hedge trimmer to cut back the light chaparral that was starting to overgrow the trail, with help from one or two Giant volunteers to remove the cuttings. Finally, two shortcuts that some hikers were using instead of the switchbacks (‘trail cuts’) were armored by covering with small rocks to keep them from turning into big ruts.

CORBA volunteer trail crew leader Steve Clark coordinated the event between Giant Bikes and the COSCA rangers, and helped guide the volunteers in how to use the tools to fix up the trail.

IMG_1604.jpgA combination of very enthusiastic volunteers and soft dirt, the result of last week’s rains, meant the work went very quickly. Shortly after noon, everybody headed back to the trailhead, and then on to a local restaurant and sports bar where Giant treated staff and crew leaders to lunch.

IMG_1645.jpgEveryone did a great job and now the trail is in much better condition through the switchbacks! This is the second year that Giant has helped restore the local trails (last year they built a bypass around a steep and loose section on the Los Robles Trail West). CORBA and COSCA thank Giant for their willingness to give their time to help the local trails and community of hikers, bikers and equestrians. We’re looking forward to this becoming a perhaps official annual event!

You can see more photos of the volunteers at work in our photo gallery.

Ken Burton Trail Restoration – Day 5

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016
The Crew

The Crew

January 10, 2016 was another extremely productive day for the Ken Burton Trail Restoration project.  With recent storms, it was reassuring to see our of work holding up perfectly well. In fact, the restored sections of Ken Burton fared better than the Upper Brown Mountain fire road, which was rutted and much more rocky than before the storms.

2016-01-10 - Retaining wall

Retaining wall crew at work – Photo by Matt Lay

Once again teaming up with the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, 21 volunteers were able to do a first-pass cutting brush on 0.3 miles of trail, with tread restoration completed on 0.2 miles of that. Matt Lay, of MWBA led the effort to complete the first wire basket retaining wall. At our last day, the lower retaining wall was completed. The upper wall is almost complete, needing a few more hours of work. There are two more retaining wall sections that will need similar rebuilding.

We were blessed with perfect trailwork conditions. Rain was in the forecast for the night before our event, with most forecasts showing the weather tapering off by morning. That’s exactly what we had: nice damp soil, and cool, comfortable work conditions.

The day before the scheduled trailwork, I took a load of tools up via bob trailer, and did a walk-through video of the section we were to work on. After the trailwork day was completed, I repeated the video walk-through. The before and after videos show what an amazing transformation is possible. The two videos are embedded below.

We also have to thank Pat Phillips, a long-time trailwork volunteer and supporter who helped build the trail in the 90s. He graciously hosted us once again for lunch after the day’s work.

Mount Wilson Bicycling Association will be hosting the next trailwork day on Ken Burton this coming Sunday, January 17. and  CORBA will host again on January 24 (both dates are weather-permitting). We all want to see this trail restored and opened!

Thanks once again to the tremendous volunteers for their hard work and dedication.

Ahead, brush. Behind, a trail.

Ahead, brush. Behind, a trail.

 

Progress:

Progress!

Progress!  (Click for a larger view)

 

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President’s Message: 2015 – A Year in Review

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

2015 has been one of the most active in CORBA’s history. There has been so much happening in our local mountains, in our sport, in our public lands, in the political landscape, and in bicycle advocacy in general. As always, CORBA has done its best to stay on top of the issues, to be leaders in the trail community, and to have a positive impact on our trails, our public lands, our community and our sport. Here’s a quick recap of what’s been happening this year, showing how your membership dollars and donations are being used to benefit all mountain bikers in the Los Angeles and Eastern Ventura Counties.

Advocacy

Puente Hills Landfill Meeting

Puente Hills Landfill Meeting

Much has happened this year on the mountain bike advocacy front. One of the biggest issues has been the start of the process to develop a Management Plan for our year-old San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. The National Forest Foundation convened a Community Collaborative group to develop a broad base of support from a diverse range of stakeholders to help guide the Forest Service in its management of the Angeles National Forest and the SGMNM. CORBA has been involved from the start, in 2014 on the committee to establish the Collaborative, and this year as an active participant in the Collaborative. Forty-five diverse interests are represented, some of whom have traditionally found themselves at odds with our community. This has truly expanded our outreach and strengthened our place in the community.

We’re also continuing to work with Los Angeles County on several fronts: the Castaic Area Trail Master Plan, the Los Angeles County Trails Manual, the now-completed Santa Susana Mountains Trail Master plan, the LA County Park Needs assessment, the Altadena Crest Trail Restoration, the Puente Hills Landfill and bicycle access to trails in general.

This year we joined the Los Angeles Bike Park Collective. We have pending Bike Park proposals with Los Angeles County, the City of Los Angeles, City of Glendale, and Thousand Oaks. Fillmore Bike Park opened this past Spring.

We’re closely monitoring the development of the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Master Plan, which is expected to come out in draft form in 2016. We saw the Rim of the Valley Study completed. Legislation was introduced to create a new National Recreation Area, and expand our new National Monument. We’ve worked with legislators on a pending Wilderness bill, to ensure that it has minimum impact on mountain biking. We’re continuing to work with the Sierra Club and Wilderness Society to ensure that their efforts to protect our public lands do not impact our ability to enjoy them.

This year new e-bike legislation was introduced. Early drafts could have been interpreted to allow electric mountain bikes on non-motorized trails. We worked to clarify that this does not makes e-bike legal on trails. We’ll be watching the e-bike debate closely as they become more popular.

There’s a pending application to build a hotel on the DeAnza Trailhead. CORBA took the lead on asking the City of Calabasas to do a full EIR.

Outside the area, we’re keeping an eye on wilderness proposals in the Sierra Nevada mountains and BLM land swap proposals in the San Jacinto Mountains, both with the potential to close trails to bikes.

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Vetter Mountain Trail Restoration Progress

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

Last January the Forest Service allowed some experienced trail maintenance volunteers, who had been previously certified to use chainsaws at the “A” level, to step up their training to a “B” level. Under current regulations, A level sawyers are restricted to 8 inch trees or smaller, and must be supervised. B-level Sawyers are allowed to work unsupervised, on trees up to 24″ in diameter, and can supervise and work with A-level sawyers.

Chainsaw Certification Class of 2015

B Level Chainsaw Certification Class of 2015

CORBA President Steve Messer, and volunteer Mike McGuire both received their B level certification, and have been putting them to use all year. MWBA volunteers Mitch Marich, Brad Benam and Erik Hillard also received their A level certification, along with several other individuals and volunteers from other organizations and areas outside Los Angeles.

Together the CORBA and MWBA sawyer team has been cutting trees from trails all year. We’ve cut trees from Brown Mountain, El Prieto, Sunset Ridge, Gabrielino, Strawberry Peak, Colby Canyon, Mount Lowe East, Sam Merrill and Silver Moccasin trails. Six years after the Station Fire, downed trees are becoming a major and constant problem.

Our biggest project has been Vetter Mountain trail. This was a favorite of local mountain bikers, as the first descent of the classic Chilao Loop (or, more accurately, the Chilao Figure-8). The area was one of the most heavily impacted areas of the forest by the Station Fire. Drought has slowed the area’s recovery, and there are still thousands of dead trees waiting to fall.

We began in early spring 2015, first clearing the Charlton Flats loop road of more than two dozen downed trees just to get to the bottom of the Vetter Mountain Trail and Silver Moccasin trail. We cleared all the deadfall from the lower section of Vetter through to the first road crossing. There were many trees beyond our chainsaw certification level, the largest being just over 50 inches in diameter. These were taken care of by Little Tujunga Hot Shots Captain Greg Stenmo, whose support we were grateful to have.

After the summer heat and when fire danger levels and wind conditions allowed, on October 3rd CORBA and USFS volunteers Mike and Robin McGuire returned to begin work on the next section of the trail. In a day’s work, they were only able to clear the first hundred feet of the trail, with the sheer number of trees stacked like Chinese pickup sticks.

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We returned on October 8th. In the five days since Mike and Robin were up there, another four trees had fallen across the road. Finally getting to the trail, we began cutting downed trees, poodle dog bush and buckthorn from the overgrown tread. In places it was impossible to see any remnant of trail through the brush and deadfall, so having been familiar with the trail in its pre-fire glory was a must.  The time lapse below gives a pretty good indication of what’s been involved in clearing the trail. This is six hours of work compressed to nine minutes.

We returned on October 23, and November 5. On November 5 we started from the top of the trail, near the site of the old lookout and worked our way down. It was a glorious moment for us to finally have cut and cleared over 150 trees from Vetter Mountain trail, Charlton trail, and the Charlton Loop road. After finishing, we went back and inspected the trail from top to bottom, and found a dozen more trees fallen in areas we’d previously cleared.

Once again we returned on December 17, first clearing downed trees off the road, then several new trees that had fallen across Vetter and Charlton trails. Afterwards we joined the Chilao hotshots crew, who were clearing downed trees from Silver Moccasin trail after the particularly strong windstorms of December.  With our help, they were able to get the job finished in one day.

The trail remains closed to the public. There are still too many dead trees that have been rotting away for six years, waiting to fall every time the wind blows. More than once, when we finished our day’s chainsaw work as the afternoon winds started blowing, we heard more trees falling. Because of these dangers, we are not willing to take in volunteer crews to begin restoring the trail. Since winds have been blowing steadily this past month (over 70mph the week before Christmas), there are probably many more trees down again.

Currently the Forest Service, along with Fire Crews and us as Volunteer Sawyers, are developing a plan to clear remaining standing trees in the trail and road corridors, so that they don’t continue to fall across the trail every time the wind blows. Currently crews are doing that along the Santa Clara Divide Road so that it can be reopened to vehicles next year.

We hope to begin restoration work on the Vetter Mountain trail next year, after we finish the Ken Burton trail. Stay tuned for details.

El Nino Watch: Trail Damage and Riding after it Rains

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

We are having a severe El Nino event this winter; as a result the weather forecast is for many heavy rainstorms in the early months of 2016. That will help our drought situation, but will have seriously bad impacts on our trails. As well as muddy conditions that interfere with their use, described  below, the rains could be severe enough to erode some trails into huge ruts, and even wash them away in some cases. There may be more mudslides in Pt Mugu State Park (Sycamore Canyon) like we had last year. Furthermore, the rain will spur the chaparral to overgrow the trails, a condition we haven’t had to deal with much over the past couple of years because of the drought. The combination of waterlogged soil and high winds could blow trees over. We’re expecting to have special trailwork days to repair these damaged trails and hope many mountain bikers will want to help us get them back into shape!

Most trails in our local riding area don’t respond well to rain. They have a high content of clay that turns into sticky, slippery muck that binds to everything it touches. It builds up on the tires, like a snowball rolling downhill, until it jams on the frame and the wheels won’t budge. Some models of clipless pedals won’t let go when full of this mud, resulting in the bike and the attached rider lying sideways in a puddle, or worse.

Most wet trails don’t respond well to use until they’ve had time to dry out. Hikers and horses make holes and ridges in the trail that become as hard as concrete when the trail dries. These holes and ridges are good for twisting ankles.

As a rule of thumb, if your foot, tire or hoof makes an impression more than about 1/8 inch deep in the dirt, the trail is still too soft to use. Give it another day or two to dry out before using it!

On wet trails, bikes make grooves along the trail. The next time it rains, the water runs down these grooves and turns them into little ruts, then large ruts that destroy the trail.

The mud is particularly hard to remove. It sticks to the bike and shoes, no matter the efforts to remove it, rubbing off on the bike rack, car carpet and gas/brake pedals, making them slippery. Once home, it takes the careful use of a garden hose to remove the mud but not force water into the sensitive parts of the bike.

For these reasons, riders are well advised to stay off the trails after a rain until they have dried. How long to stay off? That depends on a number of factors including the particular trail, how much rain it received, how much sun it gets after the rain (is it in the shade or face south?), how warm and windy the weather is, and so on. After an isolated light rain you can probably ride the next day. After a heavy rain, you should wait several days. This is something where common sense and experience will help. Remember, tracks deeper than 1/8″ mean the trail is still too soft to use!

All is not lost when the trails are soaking! There are a few trails that hold up well when wet because they have more sand and rock that doesn’t hold the water. Here are a few you should know about:

Space Mountain (Los Robles Trail West) to the picnic table is almost always rideable, even right after a big storm. However, it can be pretty mucky from the picnic table to Potrero Road.
Rosewood Trail is pretty good, but not quite as resilient as Space Mountain.
Zuma Ridge Motorway from Encinal (the bottom in Malibu is muddy)
Dirt Mulholland around Topanga State Park.
-Brown Mountain Fireroad
-Most San Gabriel Mountains trails made up of decomposed granite
-Beaudry Fireroad
-Hostetter Fireroad
-Mt. Lukens

Ken Burton Trail Restoration Day 4

Friday, December 18th, 2015

Ride in 8 miles and 2000′ to the work site

On Sunday, December 13, more than 25 CORBA and Mount Wilson Bicycling Association volunteers came out to help restore the Ken Burton Trail. It was another highly successful day, with another quarter mile of trail brushed, re-cut and restored back to better-than-before-the-fire condition. Following much the same pattern our previous trailwork days have followed, our lead crew rough-cleared brush to reveal the old tread. Others followed with loppers to fine tune, then mcleods and pulaskis to remove the years of accumulated slough and restore outslope and drainage to the tread. We worked on approximately a quarter mile of tread, including the first three (of more than 20) switchbacks, and began prepping the trail beyond that.

first switchback on Ken Burton trail

First Switchback finished on Ken Burton

Our crew was excited to have John Watson from The Radavist join us with a crew to shoot video and photos of our day’s work. They did a great story and photo gallery, available at: http://theradavist.com.  Click on the photo to scroll through their gallery of great shots.  They also put together a great video capturing the day’s efforts.

Our next work day, weather permitting, will be on January 10, followed by January 24.  Sign up to our event on Meetup.com/corbamtb, or on Facebook.

 

 

 

Ken Burton Trail Restoration Continues December 13

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015
MWBA and CORBA Trail Crew

Most of the Sunday, 11/22 crew after they arrived. Thanks guys and gals!

On Sunday, November 22nd, 2015, we had our third full trail restoration work day on Ken Burton trail with the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association. 23 volunteers made the 7 mile, 2000′ climb to pitch in. Bob trailers were used once again to get needed tools and supplies to the work site.

We continued on from where we finished last time. The crews worked feverishly for a solid four hours, clearing an additional 1600′ of trail. We’re making rapid progress, thanks in part to the excellent original construction by the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association in the 1990’s.

 

Ken Burton Hike a Bike

Before: A group who poached the closed trail in 2013. The brush is only thicker and taller now.

 

Completed trailwork Ken Burton

After our crew had been through

 

Ken Burton Trail Restoration

After: looking the other direction

The before and after is quite dramatic. Where the trail was previously completely obscured by brush, it is now in better shape than before the fire. Our crews are getting it down to a fine art. We’re using power hedge trimmers for the initial brush clearance, followed by swampers (who remove and stash the cut brush), then loppers and hand saws to fine tune the brush and stump removal.  The lead crew is followed by a tread crew, working to remove stumps and roots from the tread, and pull down slough to restore the original trail tread.  We’re cutting the trail to its original 36 – 48″ tread width where possible, knowing that it will narrow down again with time.

Ken Burton Trailwork

Getting close to the memorial and the top of the switchbacks

 

Ken Burton Memorial. Plaque has been long gone.

Ken Burton Memorial. The plaque is long gone.

Our target for the day was to reach the Ken Burton Memorial, a plaque dedicated to USFS Battalion Chief Ken Burton, who was killed in a car crash in November 1985. For those who remember the trail, the memorial was just before the very first switchback descending into the Arroyo Seco canyon. We made it to the Memorial at about 1 p.m., leaving time for people to gather tools, load up trailers and ride back down for lunch at 2. Pat Phillips, a local Altadena resident and one of the original construction crew in the 1990’s, graciously hosted us for lunch afterwards.

Failed wire basket retaining wall

Failed wire basket retaining wall

 

We’ve also reached the first failed retaining wall structure. In my survey of the trail, only two sections of retaining wall structure failed out of the dozens used, a testament to the work of the original MWBA crew. Those dozens of structures have survived three major El Nino winters and one Station Fire.

Completed-Map

Project Status. Click for a larger view.

So far we’ve cleared approximately .7 miles of the trail, about 1/3 of the work. We have a couple more days of very similar work before it will get especially thick and tough near the bottom. At that time we’ll need to coordinate with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps who are working on the Gabrielino trail, near where it meets the bottom of Ken Burton trail.

Thanks again to all the volunteers who came out to help. Our next work day is December 13 (weather permitting). Our tentative dates starting next year are January 10 and January 24, to be confirmed soon. The more people who contribute, the better our chances of riding this trail next summer!