Posts Tagged ‘Gabrielino trail’

Gabrielino Trail Restoration Update

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

CORBA has been working behind the scenes on restoring the Gabrielino National Recreation Trail. The Gabrielino is the last trail still closed because of damage due to the Station Fire. It’s been an ongoing effort since 2011 to open up sections of the trail and then keep them clear of downed trees.

In early 2015 the Los Angeles Conservation Corps worked with Bellfree Contractors to rebuild the Gabrielino from Paul Little to Oakwilde Campground. CORBA helped fund that effort with a generous grant from REI. We subsequently concentrated on the Ken Burton trail, a project that rallied volunteers in an intensive 8-months of bi-monthly work days.

Searching for the trail in February 2016

Only the section from Oakwilde to the junction with Bear Canyon trail remains closed to public use. CORBA has been awarded grants from both REI and Edison International to help fund the restoration of this section. Those funds support volunteers, buy tools and materials and will pay for professional services to improve the sustainability of the trail and reduce future maintenance needs. We are grateful for their support.

The trail was littered with downed trees in 2016

In early 2016 we did a hike-through inspection of the trail with Forest Service staff, Bellfree Contractors, Los Angeles Conservation Corps and Boy Scout volunteers. The arduous journey involved climbing over and under dozens and dozens of downed trees, searching for remnants of trail where it had been washed away, and dodging and ducking heavy brush. Sections of the trail were completely gone, the only route was to hike along the streambed, which was also covered in downed trees.

After more than a year of internal Forest Service review, the go-ahead was given to us by District Ranger Bob Blount last summer. Sadly, Ranger Bob passed away last week and won’t see this trail completed. He was especially excited for us to be working on this trail and bringing it back to its earlier glory. We hope to finish the project by summer in his honor.

After months of extreme fire danger (meaning no chainsaw use), last fall CORBA and MWBA volunteer sawyers spent six solid days wielding chainsaws to cut through the deadfall along the trail.

With the corridor opened up, MWBA have devoted their monthly trailwork day to the project since December. In three work days the volunteer crews have worked on just over two miles of the trail.

There is so much enthusiasm for getting this trail restored and opened that there have been more volunteers that tools for the last two days. The volunteer effort has been astounding, with more than 40 volunteers signed up each day. Some sections that have been worked on are now in better shape than before the Station Fire. But there is still much to do.

So far, over 50 individual volunteers have devoted more than 1000 hours to the restoration effort.


A recently restored section

This is truly a team effort, with the Angeles Forest 50k Run trail crew having worked on another section of the Gabrielino near Switzers; the Sierra Club have been working on the section around Devore camp; and previous work was done by the Los Angeles Conservation Corps and the Boy Scouts on other sections.

Thanks to all the volunteers who have contributed to this restoration effort. Special thanks to our partners at the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association for organizing group work days and REI and Edison International for their financial support.

There is still more to do. The trail is not officially open to the public, but we hope to change that soon.. Watch for upcoming announcements for March and April volunteer work days from MWBA, or CORBA’s Meetup group.

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


Trailwork Report: Gabrielino Trail

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Gabrielino Trail MWBA and CORBA CrewsOn January 14, 2012, volunteer crews once again tackled the Gabrielino Trail between Switzers and Redbox.  CORBA combined forces with the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, our neighboring IMBA chapter.

We continued on our work from our last trailwork event in December, working on approximately 2 additional miles of trail. The crews hiked in from the access road halfway between Clear Creek and Redbox. From there, one crew headed down the trail, and another headed up the trail. A third crew of two went to Redbox and worked their way down clearing debris and downed trees from the trail. The crews cleared and rock-armored several drainages, cut back brush, repaired damaged trail tread, and cleared rock and other debris from the trail. Several groups of hikers and cyclists came through as the work was being done, many more than we saw during the last trailwork day in December.

With the trail now over 95% rideable, we anticipate many more users on the trail as we enter spring. However, we must caution everyone to beware of the poodle dog bush. It’s impractical to cut back, but much of the trail is lined with the plant. At least two of the volunteers reported cases of poodle dog a few days after the work was completed.

Everyone had a great time. The Pasadena Mountain Bike Club were well represented, with several first-time trailwork volunteers.  “It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun,” commented Mike, one of the first-time volunteers. “I definitely want to come back and do more next time.”  A deli-style lunch spread was put on for the volunteers and at least five of the volunteers went and rode the trail immediately after lunch. “That’s the best reward ever,” said Jenny Johnson, “being able to ride a trail you helped restore.”


Trailwork Report: Gabrielino and Rim Trails, Angeles National Forest

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

Over the first weekend in December, 2011, CORBA trail crew volunteers came out to help restore the fire-damaged trails of the Angeles National Forest.

Gabrielino Trail, December 3, 2011

On a cool and mostly clear Saturday, CORBA and Mount Wilson Bicycling Association volunteers teamed up to work on the Gabrielino trail. The Gabrielino between Switzers and Redbox was opened to the public back in May 2011, though the trail has had little attention and was in very poor shapte. Through many sections the old trail is simply non-existent.  Starting at Switzer’s Day Use area, the volunteers worked their way up the trail.

At the outset, two large trees were removed from the trail. These had toppled in the ferocious wind storm of November 30, 2011, and were not present when the trail was surveyed for work a week earlier. A third tree remains and is too massive to move with hand tools. The yellow warning signs greeting trail users on trails that pass through burn zones has a clear message: That trees, weakened by the fire, pose a considerable hazard and may fall at any time. Especially now, more than two years after Station Fire, dead trees are beginning to rot and weaken. Falling trees will continue to be a danger for years to come.

The volunteer trail crews, led by Mitch Marich of the MWBA, and Hans Kiefer and Steve Messer from CORBA, rebuilt two severely damaged drainages that required extensive rock retaining walls and rock armoring. In addition, tread was outsloped and widened along many narrowed sections and the brush was cut back. The crews worked on approximately 1.3 miles of trail, from switzers to the second stream crossing and switchbacks. Some sections of the trail now run along the alluvial wash at the base of the canyon. This was created by the tremendous water and debris flows of the past two winters. However, all of the trail worked on by the crew is now easily negotiable for trail users (with the exception of the one large downed tree that remains). With another day’s work in January, we hope to have the entire trail clear of significant obstacles and seeing regular use once again.

Moving rocks and re-building the trail:

Moving Rocks on the Gabrielino