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.
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.