Archive for the ‘Trail Crew’ Category

Learn how to build and maintain trails with the IMBA Trail Care Crew, Saturday, Oct 20, 2012

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Join CORBA, the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, and the IMBA Trail Care Crew, for a day of learning how to build and maintain trails. This free one-day class includes a morning classroom session, followed by an afternoon of hands-on instruction building and repairing a trail.

The IMBA Trail Care Crew was last here in 2007, during which time they worked on western end of the Idlehour trail.  For this visit we will be working on the Strawberry Peak trail, which was devastated during the Station Fire and remains closed to the public.  A proposal for re-routing an always troublesome section of the old trail is being processed right now. We hope to have final approval for the re-route in time to begin work on the new section for the class. If not, there is plenty of work to be done on the existing trail.

The class is free, and lunch will be provided to all participants, with a limit of 40 participants.  So Cal High School League/NICA coaches can get development credit for attending the class.

The morning session begins at 9 a.m. and will be held at the La Casita de Arroyo in Pasadena, located at 177 S. Arroyo Boulevard, Pasadena. After lunch, we’ll carpool to Redbox in the Angeles National Forest to work on the Strawberry Peak trail.

Please RSVP by sending an email to, or on IMBA’s site by clicking here, so we can make sure everyone is covered for tools, safety equipment, and food.  For the hands-on portion of the class, you’ll be required to wear sturdy shoes, long pants, long sleeves and gardening or work gloves. We’ll supply hard hats (and some gloves for those who don’t have their own).


CORBA Presentation for Land Managers, October 19, 2012

Monday, October 1st, 2012

CORBA and our neighboring IMBA chapter, the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, will be co-hosting the IMBA Trail Care Crew for a visit to our local mountains. As a part of their visit, we are together hosting a session for Land Managers. The session will introduce you to IMBA as an organization. Attendees will learn how we, as local IMBA Chapters, can help land managers with their trails and open space programs, as well as up-to-date techniques and principles of trail design and construction. Additionally the Trail Care Crew will teach a one-day trailbuilding and maintenance class for volunteers.

The IMBA Trail Care Crew is world-renowned for their expertise in trail design, maintenance, and other issues. This is a unique opportunity to learn from those who live, breathe, and eat multi-use trails year-round, and to exchange ideas about trail construction, conflict resolution and other issues shared by most land managers.

The session is being held at the Angeles National Forest headquarters.

From the IMBA web site: “The Land Manager training educates land managers on IMBA and the practice of designing, building and maintaining sustainable trails; as well as the importance of partnerships with local mountain biking organizations to achieve great trails. The curriculum is geared toward land managers who oversee land that is either provides, or has the potential to provide mountain biking opportunities. This presentation is essential to inform land managers and community leaders on how to partner with clubs to build responsible, thoughtful trails. This presentation helps grow local group’s trust in IMBA, trail building and mountain biking.”

Besides the United States Forest Service, California State Parks, and Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation, we cordially invite all local government agencies and trail advocacy organizations in our area. The session size is limited to 30 people.

Please RSVP or email any questions to steve at, or call 323-743-3682. 

IMBA Trail Care Crew with CORBA and MWBA
Land Managers’ Workshop
Friday, October 19, 2012, 1pm – 4pm.
Angeles National Forest Headquarters
701 N. Santa Anita Ave,
Arcadia, CA 91006

Directions: Google Map. If you are on the 210 freeway heading east, exit Santa Anita Avenue, and turn right at the off-ramp. Then turn immediately right into the ANF Headquarters, just a few yards south of the off-ramp. From the 210 west, turn left, proceed under the freeeway, and look for the first driveway after passing the eastbound freeway off ramp.

Mesa Peak Singletrack Trailwork Report and Photos

Monday, September 17th, 2012

On Saturday morning, September 15, fifteen volunteers from the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council trail crew, Calabasas Day Hikers Meetup group and CORBA gathered in the parking area at the bottom of the Mesa Peak Motorway singletrack, a segment of the Backbone Trail in Malibu Creek State Park. We had learned the evening before that possibly hundreds of road cyclists and onlookers would be gathering at the corner of Piuma and Malibu Canyon Roads for the annual LaGrange Piuma Hill Climb. This was less than 1/4 mile away, and we could envision all the parking being taken up by this group, but as it turned out, there was just enough parking for the trailwork volunteers.

Looking at the huge rut and planning how to fix it.

Our job for the day was to fix an extremely serious rut near the trailhead, clean out existing drainages and install new ones to prevent further water damage and rutting, and cut back several years of overgrowing brush.

The challenge of the work would be compounded by temperatures expect to reach just over 100 degrees. Fortunately 90% of the work was in the shade. Also, CORBA provided lots of water for those who ran short, and two of us had mist bottles to spray down coworkers from time to time.

The rut is filled in and the surface is smooth, but very loose

The Trails Council crew did most of the the treadwork, filling in the huge rut much more quickly than I had expected, then going on to clean out old or build new drainages. These drainages are critical to preserving the trail by shunting the water off the side, so it doesn’t run down the middle of the trail and cause further errosion and huge ruts.

Meanwhile, the CORBA and Calabasas Day Hiker volunteers mostly grabbed loppers and saws and went to work on the overgrowth. The brush to be removed had previously been marked with bright orange surveyor’s tape. After cutting down the brush, the tape was removed and pocketed, then the clippings were tossed over the edge, hidden from view of the trail as much as possible. We took off the orange plastic tape because it would become trash on the hillsides as the clippings slowly decomposed.

Remove the cuttings of overgrown brush

We finished up the workday about an hour earlier than planned because of the temperature. Besides, we had already accomplished almost everything that could be done.

CORBA volunteers selected a mtn bike tire, courtesy of IMBA and CST, as a reward for all their diligent work. Then CORBA treated the CORBA and Calabasas Day Hiker volunteers to lunch at the Urbane Cafe to further show our appreciation. (The Trails Council crew packs their own lunch and eat it on the trail in the middle of the workday.)

CORBA volunteers show off their new CST tires, courtesy of CST and IMBA

A word of warning: The trail is fairly smooth where we filled in the huge rut, but it is very loose due to the dry conditions. Be careful when riding through this section! The loose dirt extends down at least a foot, and is up to two feet deep where this rut was filled in.

View all the photos in our trailwork photo gallery!

Lunch at the Urbane Cafe

State Restoration of Rogers Road Underway

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

As reported in the Topanga Messenger and several other news sources, and announced by CORBA last year, work has been progressing along the Rogers Road section of the Backbone Trail. The trail had become severely eroded, narrow and overgrown, to where concerns for safety and sustainability of the trail had been raised by State Parks.

Rogers Road

Congressman Brad Sherman last week announced that funds had been secured by him for trail improvements along the Backbone Trail. We are seeing the results of that funding, as State Parks have hired additional staff for the project and have been working hard on Rogers Road.

Trail crews have been camping in “spike camps” to save time hiking in and out of work sites. They typically spend 3 – 5 days doing trailwork based out of the camp. The most recent spike camp ended on Tuesday, August 28. CORBA’s Steve Messer joined the crew for the last day of their camp, as they cut back brush along the trail in sweltering heat.

The trail has been extensively brushed, with tread and drainage work being done by machine. Ruts have been flattened and drainage has been restored and improved.  As with any such restoration work, the trail now looks smooth and raw, but longer term prospects are looking good for this section of the Backbone trail.  After some time to pack down and a spring growing season Rogers Road should be back to the flowy singletrack we all love, but without the constant scratching of brush, and threat of ruts and dropoffs hidden from view by overgrown grasses.

State parks trail crew

Crews have completed work from Temescal Ridge fire road to approximately .9 miles above the Chicken Ridge bridge.  Another spike camp is expected late October to continue work on the trail.

We appreciate State Parks efforts, and Congressman Sherman’s recognition of the importance of the Backbone Trail to all trail users.

COSCA Annual Trailwork Day Oct 20th

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Come out and join the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA), CORBA, the Santa Monica Trails Council and other volunteers for the 22nd Annual COSCA Trailwork Day. We will be working on new trails in the Conejo Canyons Open Space (aka Western Plateau).

COSCA will treat participants to lunch afterwards and have a drawing for some great door prizes, including CST tires contributed by CORBA.

For full details and to register, see our registration page. We hope to see a good turnout of local mountain bikers at this event!

Mesa Peak Backbone Singletrack Trailwork Sept 15

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Come out to help us fix up the singletrack at the bottom of Mesa Peak Motorway on September 15th! We’ll be removing some overgrowing bushes and fixing major ruts at the bottom of the trail.

CORBA will treat participants to lunch afterwards and provide some great mountain biking prizes, including CST tires.

For full details and to register, see our registration page. We hope to see a good turnout of local mountain bikers at this event!

IMBA Trail Care Crew Report from California

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

Most applications requesting Trail Care Crew visits originate from mountain bike advocacy organizations. In the 23 visits we have made, this stop in central California was only the second time that a land management agency — the Georgetown District of the U.S. Forest Service — made the request. It’s something we think the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crews will start seeing more of as federal, state and local land management agencies learn how much there is to gain from working with outside partners.

Limited budgets and ongoing funding cuts are a grim reality for many Forest Service districts. Partnerships between land managers and local mountain biking advocacy organizations offer much-needed relief — bike clubs can supply knowledge, experience, volunteer labor and more to help fill the gaps between the vision for new trails and the reality of getting them built.

The Georgetown District staff we met with are excited about what they can accomplish by working with local mountain bike advocacy organizations, including the Folsom-Auburn Trail Riders Action Coalition and the Forest Trails Alliance. The Eldorado has great potential, with good existing trails and the potential to develop some great ones. The nearby trails in Auburn are popular and sometimes a bit overcrowded, so developing the Eldorado’s trail network holds the potential to benefit riders and lessen their impacts by spreading them out over a greater area.
The name “Eldorado” conjures an imaginary place of great treasure and opportunity. Will California’s Eldorado National Forest live up to such a grand definition? We think they are on their way.

— Jake and Jenny

From the International Mountain Bicycling Association‘s quarterly publication Trail News, Spring 2012

Save the date!  CORBA will be hosting the IMBA Trail Care Crew October 18 – 21 later this year.

National Trails Day at Redbox, Angeles National Forest

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Saturday June 2, 2012 – Saturday June 2, 2012

Angeles Crest Highway at Mt. Wilson Road.

View MapMap and Directions | Register


Join CORBA, the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, the National Forest Foundation and the Boy Scouts of America on National Trails Day, June 2nd. We’ll be working on the Gabrielino trail between redbox and switzers, and/or the Strawberry Peak trail. REI is sponsoring the event by providing lunch.

You must wear long pants and long sleeves, with sturdy shoes. Bring gardening gloves if you have them, but if not gloves will be supplied. Hard hats will also be supplied, but you’re welcome to bring your own. No shorts, t-shirts, flip flops or sandals please. Bring a water bottle or hydration pack, trail snacks and sunscreen.





Report on and photos of 2012 Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Over the weekend of April 28-29, about 200 volunteers had a great time chatting, chowing on a fabulous barbecue meal, taking in the scenery, winning wonderful prizes, and if they liked, camping overnight in the Danielson Multiuse Area in Pt Mugu State Park. The reason for the revelry was the 31st annual Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days where outdoor enthusiasts of all varieties got together to repair trails for everyone to enjoy.


When we arrived on Saturday morning, the staging area at Danielson Multuse Area was bescattered with a couple dozen brightly colored tents of people who had arrived Friday evening and camped overnight. The CORBA volunteers grabbed some tools and shuttled to the top of Hell Hill to work on Guadalasca Trail. Our job would be to clear the brush that was overgrowing the trail.

The 34 mountain bike volunteers, including a half dozen members of the Channel Islands High School Interscholastic SoCal Cycling League, split into three groups, led by crew leaders Hans Keifer, Steve Messer and Steve Clark. We were to hike down the trail, cutting back the overgrowth as we went. Helping us were two State Parks staff who were ahead on the trail. They had chain saws to cut back the largest branches. Keifer and Messer followed with their crews, armed with loppers and small saws, to remove brush and branches of an intermediate size. Bringing up the rear was Clark, wielding a power hedge-trimmer, and two brave assistants, who cut down the smaller brush and swept it off the trail. This included a huge section of poison oak that was flourishing on the top part of the trail, above the first switchback. On the way down, this last group cut back poison oak that the other groups had left. Near the bottom, on the old ranch road section, the power hedge trimmer was also used to cut back thistle near the trail. We wanted to cut it out before it developed seeds for next year’s crop of prickles.

Guadalasca is now in much better shape. It is clear of overgrowth over most of it’s length, and the risk of contacting poison oak is much reduced.

While the CORBA crews were working on Guadalasca, other crews were working on Blue Canyon Trail and Old Boney Trail. Both these trails are in the State Wilderness Area and are closed to mountain biking.

The crews finished about 2:00 pm and headed back to the staging area for some R & R before the barbecue dinner, consisting of salad, tri-tip, chicken, vegi burgers, baked beans, garlic toast and hot dogs, with cake for dessert. The grills were manned by State Parks maintenance workers who had volunteered to help out. Dinner was augmented by snacks and amber/red/white beverages that adults brought for themselves.

While dinner was being prepared, tables were laid out with dozens of items that were to be awarded to volunteers during the prize giveaway. They were there for people to oggle and figure out which they would pick for themselves when their ticket was drawn. Tickets were given out to people in line for dinner. The giveaway itself was held after dinner. Everyone won a prize, but of course the people whose tickets were chosen first had a larger selection to pick from. Among the prizes were two $350 RST M29 Air 29″ forks. New this year were grand prize drawings, in addition to the regular prizes, for a North Face down sleeping bag, a North Face 2-person tent and a mountain bike helmet.

All the pictures of Saturday’s activities are available for viewing in the Saturday photo gallery.


Most people headed home Saturday evening after the prize drawing, but a few stayed on for another night of camping. A few of those left on Sunday morning, but many stayed for another morning of trailwork, and were joined by a few who drove in for the day.

Trenched trail with bushes blocking the view around bends

The CORBA crew consisted of four mountain bikers, three Americorps volunteers and three State Parks employees. We headed over to Sin Nombre Trail in two groups. The State Parks staff, along with their power hedge trimmer, started at the top and worked their way down. They were accompanied by two bikers who worked with loppers. The remaining five started at the bottom and worked their way up.

The bottom group worked on the tread and brush in two areas. The trail in the first area was deeply trenched and had large bushes growing next to the trail on the inside of bends. We built two rolling dips to prevent rainwater from running straight down the trail, thus keeping the trenches from getting deeper (they’re already deep enough that you can easily hit your pedals on the side of the trail as you climb up). We also partly filled in the trench so it’s not so deep now. We would have filled it in completely if we’d had time.

Cutting back the bushes on the inside turnsThe large bushes growing right next to the trail on the inside of bends present two problems. First, they obscure the view around the bend so you can’t see people coming the other direction. The trail is moderately sloped here, so people riding downhill can’t see others coming towards them, and don’t have much time to react to avoid a collision. Similarly, people coming up the hill can’t see if a rider is coming down towards them. Second, the bushes are so close to the trail that there’s no room to lean into the turn without running your torso into the bush. Riders need to slow down so much that they’re not leaning, or else ride off the outside of the trail, thus widening it over time. We fixed these problems by cutting the bushes back about three feet from the center of the trail, giving much improved visibility around the curve.

The oak tree on the left used to grow to the edge of the trail, blocking the view of this turn at the bottom of a small hill.

The second area was at an S-turn at the bottom of a small hill. An oak tree at the bottom of this hill obscures the view of the turn, resulting in some mountain bikers missing the first turn and running up a small bank, then being in a poor line for the second turn and possibly falling or running off the trail and down a grassy bank.

The top group and bottom group happened to meet at this point, so the top group worked on trimming back the tree to improve visibility while the bottom group widened the trail by about 18″ to make the turns a little more gentle.

While we were working on Sin Nombre, a second, slightly larger group had headed back up the Blue Canyon Trail to work there.

We got back to the staging area about 1:00 pm for a quick lunch before the second prize giveaway. In addition to the regular prizes, the grand prizes were another 2-person tent from North Face and a $100 gift certificate for Westlake Cyclery.

All the pictures of Sunday’s activities are available for viewing in the Sunday photo gallery.

The 2012 Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days were organized by the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council in conjunction with California State Parks. Other groups who helped out were CORBA, the Sierra Club, Crenshaw Eco Club, California Native Plant Society, SMM Natural History Assn., Malibu Creek Docents, Temescal Canyon Assn., Ray Miller 50/50 Run and the National Park Service. A special Thank-You goes to Barb Thomas who was the coordinator of this event for the SMM Trails Council.

If you missed the fun and excitement this year, this is an annual event so you should plan to come out next year for the 2013 edition!


Fixing a hazardous turn in Pt Mugu State Park

Monday, April 16th, 2012

On Sunday April 15, as part of National Volunteer Week, about 40 Amgen volunteers gathered in Pt Mugu State Park to work on the Sin Nombre Trail. Most of them worked on fixing ruts and cutting back overgrowing brush, but 8 of us, all but one mountain bikers, split off to fix up the dangerous corner near the top of the trail at Ranch Center Road.

The problem is at a dip to cross a very small stream, combined with a tight left turn.  After slowing to negotiate the turn at the stream crossing, the rider encounters a short but unexpectedly steep climb out of the stream. Because the trail has been downhill until this point, often people are in too high a gear and stall trying to climb the hill. When they put their foot down, they discover that the trail is also narrower than expected and there is little room for their foot, and they can fall about 6′ down the steep bank to the rocks of the stream. The problem is made worse by a rock near the middle of the trail at the start of the climb out that it high enough to bang your pedal on. Many riders have fallen at this turn; some were taken out by helicopter with serious injuries.

We widened the trail and fortified the outside edge with large rocks. Gaps were filled with smaller rocks, then everything was covered with dirt.

On Sunday, I enlisted a very experienced trailwork volunteer and crew leader for the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council to figure out what we could do to cut down on the number of accidents on that corner. His solution was to build up the outside edge of the trail with large rocks to make it a little wider, and to remove the protruding rock at the start of the climb out of the dip. So after a lot of digging and relocating really big rocks, the trail is almost a foot wider, all of it on the outside, so there’s more room to put your foot down if you stall out on the climb out. The rocks also armour the outside edge of the trail so it’s less susceptible to errosion and so will last longer.

As we were working, a large number of mountain bikers rode through, the vast majority of them thanked us for fixing up the trail. Some of them told us of stories of having fallen at the corner and injuring themselves. None of them appeared to be beginners.

One fellow fell in and hit his neck. He couldn’t move, being paralyzed in all his limbs and with no feeling in them. That lasted for what must have been for him the longest 10 minutes in his life, before feeling started to come back and he could move again. It turns out he’d sprained his neck. Talk about a close call!

Another rider said he tore his shoulder and broke his collarbone when he fell there.

We believe the trail is safer after our work, but it is still risky to people who are taken by surprise by the steepness of the climb. The trail is wider so it’s easier to put your foot down on the trail, but if you’re riding too close to the edge, you can still go down the bank. So always be careful on this corner, and advise less experienced riders to get off their bikes and walk!

You can see photos of the work on the photo gallery.