Posts Tagged ‘Station Fire’

Strawberry Peak Restoration Update

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014
Station fire damage to Strawberry Peak trail

Station fire damage to Strawberry Peak trail

Strawberry Peak is one of the most loved areas in the Angeles National Forest. It suffered devastating damage during the El Niño storms following the Station Fire. After the fire the trail was impassable and has remained closed to all users, even as much of the surrounding burn areas have opened up.

The Strawberry Peak and Colby Canyon trails together comprise the classic Strawberry Peak Loop. CORBA and the Boy Scouts have worked to restore the Gabrielino trail, the third leg of the classic loop, over several trailwork days since the Station Fire. It is open and in good shape.

During our initial surveys of Strawberry Peak trail, it became clear that one particularly problematic section of the trail could benefit from a complete re-route. This section, where the Strawberry Peak trail leaves the old Barley Flats fire road, is a fall-line rocky chute that was difficult to ride even before the fire. After the fire, it became a 4′ deep rocky rut for most of its length. Trail users (who should not be in the closed area) have been steadily widening this section of trail as they go around the ruts and rocks.

Restored Strawberry Peak trail

Restored Strawberry Peak trail

CORBA planned the re-route during our IMBA Trail Care Crew visit in 2012. About 30 class attendees and volunteers worked on the trail and learned how to flag out and prepare a new trail route. The re-route plans were submitted to the Forest Service for environmental review. The review process took about six months. We were required to power wash tools, among other things, to avoid spread of invasives. (CORBA’s tools are used in many different jurisdictions in Southern California).

In late 2012, CORBA received an REI grant of $10,000 for the restoration of the Strawberry Peak loop. We purchased some new tools, and fed volunteers on our trailwork days, and sought professional help. The National Forest Foundation funded the Los Angeles Conservation Corps for this and several other Station Fire damaged trails. Together, we solicited the services of Bellfree Contractors, a professional trailbuilding company, to restore many of the larger slide areas, burned sutter walls and downed trees. CORBA also paid over $2500 of our discretionary funds for professional trailbuilding services. We coordinated with the Sierra Club volunteer trail crew who also worked on the Strawberry Peak and Colby Canyon trails.

strawberry peak trail crew Volunteers, February 16, 2014

Volunteers, February 16, 2014

On February 16, CORBA had 22 volunteers come out for trailwork. We rode or hiked in the 3 miles to the Strawberry-Lawlor saddle, and worked on the trail as far down as Strawberry Springs. Those who rode or hiked in were very happy to be back on the closed trail. We accomplished a lot, clearing about .6 miles of trail, building three rock retaining walls at drainages, cutting and widening the trail bench, and removing slough.

The LACC and Bellfree Contractors had cleared and restored much of the Colby Canyon trail from Josephine Saddle to the Strawberry Potrero. After their work, it was in better shape than before the fire.

On March 16 we returned with about 17 CORBA and MWBA volunteers. We rode in 2.5 with Bob trailers about 2.5 miles, and restored the trail all the way to Strawberry-Lawlor saddle. With the re-route completed, the ride in was much better. There was poodle dog to remove, and slough from the one big winter storm of 2014. 

We will return to the trail during May, date TBD. There is still work to be done, including the repair of composite retaining walls, brushing and the ongoing need for routine maintenance.

With CORBA, Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, Sierra Club, Los Angeles Conservation Corps, National Forest Foundation and a professional contractor working together, the Strawberry Peak loop restoration has been progressing nicely.

Riding in to trailwork with Bob trailers

Riding in to trailwork with Bob trailers

The Station Fire Closure order is in effect until May 24, 2014. The Forest Service is assessing the burn area and the trails to determine whether to renew the closure order, modify it, or let it expire. The section of the Strawberry Peak trail north to Upper Big Tujunga Canyon needs a substantial re-route, planning for which has begun. Even if the Forest Service lifts the closure, we expect the Strawberry Peak trail from the junction with Colby Canyon trail north to Upper Big Tujunga to remain closed, or be subject to a seasonal or temporary closure. Because of the need for a re-route, this section of the trail has not yet been worked on.

CORBA would like to thank all the volunteers who came out to our trailwork days; to REI for their generous grant that made the restoration and professional help possible; to the Sierra Club, National Forest Foundation and Los Angeles Conservation Corps for their efforts, and to Bellfree Contractors for their professional assistance.

 

Strawberry Peak Trailwork – February 16

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

On February 16, we’ll be heading back up to work on Strawberry Peak trail.

Drainage in need of repair

Drainage in need of repair

The trail is still closed to public use, and while much work has been completed, there is still much more to be done. Our goal is to get the classic Colby Trail/Strawberry Peak trail loop in good enough condition that the forest service will consider lifting the closure on that trail this year.

Details of where on the trail we will work will depend on how much is accomplished by a professional trailbuilder who will be doing some major repairs the week prior. Final meeting place will be announced closer to the trailwork day, but should be either Redbox or Clear Creek. Carpooling from ACH just north of the 210 freeway is also an option.

There will be some preparatory work on Friday, Feb 14 and/or Saturday Feb 15, and we’d welcome a small number (3 – 5 people) for the prep work. Contact Steve Messer if you’re interested in the prep work, or sign up on Meetup for the trailwork day on Sunday, Feb 16. We will probably meet at 8 a.m. and work through until about 2 p.m. Lunch will be provided afterwards.

The Forest Service requires you to wear long sleeves and long pants, sturdy work boots or hiking shoes. Bring a water bottle/hydration pack, sunscreen and trail snacks, but lunch will be provided afterwards. We will supply tools and other required safety gear, including hard hats and gloves (though you’re welcome to bring your own if you have them).

No experience is necessary, as trail crew leaders will cover safety training and tool use. We always have a great time, and while the work is hard, the reward of being able to later ride a trail that you helped restore is a huge reward by itself.

This is one of the most iconic and classic Southern California backcountry rides, and we’re excited to get it completely restored with the generous support of REI and the National Forest Foundation.

CORBA Awarded Grant from REI

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

CORBA’s trail crew was recently awarded a grant from REI for the restoration of the Strawberry Peak trail. Strawberry Peak Trail was severely damaged in the Station Fire of 2009, and remains closed to all users.

Most of the trail was devastated by winter rains in the two winters after the great fire had decimated the vegetation. Above average rainfall and heavy storms sent debris flows across the trails. Wooden retaining walls that supported the trail were burned away and need to be replaced. The trail is in need of much work.

We hope to re-route around this troublesome section near Redbox

We hope to re-route around this troublesome section near Redbox

The REI grant will be matched with funds from the National Forest Foundation, as much of the trail lies in the Big Tujunga drainage, a designated NFF Treasured Landscape. The funds will be used for the purchase of additional tools, materials needed for the repairs and supplies for volunteers. Additionally, the funds allow for a private contractor to be utilized to do some of the heavy work, allowing volunteers to repair the retaining walls and do the finish tread work. We will also work alongside other groups, including the Sierra Club to restore this iconic and much-loved trail.

When reviewing the trail post-fire, the particularly troublesome section of trail where the trail leaves the old Barley Flats fire road, was a deep and long ravine. We proposed re-routing this section of trail to avoid the fall line rocky section. That re-route is pending review by the Forest Service. We hope to have approval for the re-route in time for the IMBA Trail Care Crew’s visit on October 20/21.

Over the coming year we will have regular work days on the Strawberry Peak trail. If you care about this trail, watch our calendar for upcoming trailwork dates, and email trailcrew@corbamtb.com to let us know your interest. We plan to kick off the trailwork with an upcoming visit from the IMBA Trail Care Crew.

A previous REI grant allowed CORBA to restore several trails in the Station Fire burn area which are now open and in use. We are truly grateful to REI for their ongoing support of this, and many other CORBA programs.

Angeles National Forest Open and Closed Trails – May 2012

Friday, May 25th, 2012

As we approach three years since the Station Fire began, the Forest Service has revised the closure order which has been in place to allow the forest to recover, and to protect the safety of forest visitors. This is an updated list from our May 2011 list of open and closed trails.

The two questions we have been asked more than any other recently: “which trails are closed in the Angeles National Forest?  and “which trails are open in the Angeles National Forest?”

According to the Forest Service map of the station fire closure area at http://maps.fs.fed.us/stationfire/ the list below shows the status, effective May 25 2012, of some of the more popular trails that were affected by the Station Fire. Keep in mind that even though these trails are in the newly opened areas of the forest, the individual trails may be signed closed.  Please respect any trail closure signs and stay off those trails for your own safety and the recovery of the forest.

Many of the trails will not be in good shape, so be prepared for surprises like downed trees, slides, washouts, ruts, and other hazards. Many trails have been drastically changed from before the Station Fire. Many fire roads have not yet been graded and may be much narrower and in very poor condition with ruts and washouts. All the usual caveats about trail safety apply so use the trails safely and responsibly, and be especially careful the first time you travel on one of the newly opened trails.

Opened Trails (As of May 25, 2012) 

  • Brown Mountain (to the saddle)
  • El Prieto
  • Gabrielino (JPL to Paul Little)
  • Gabrielino (Switzers to Redbox to Chantry)
  • Bear Canyon Trail
  • Sam Merrill Trail
  • Castle Canyon Trail
  • Sunset Ridge Trail
  • Mt. Lowe West Trail
  • Idlehour Trail
  • Kenyon Devore Trail
  • Rim Trail
  • Sturtevant Trail
  • Santa Clara Divide Truck Trail (Dillon Divide to Mt. Gleason to Three Points – non-motorized only)
  • Chilao Loop/Mt. Hillyer
  • Silver Mocassin
  • Valley forge
  • Mueller Tunnel
  • Mt. Disappointment
  • San Gabriel Peak
  • Earl Canyon
  • Haines Canyon
  • Rim of the Valley
  • Hoyt
  • Stone Canyon
  • Trail Canyon
  • Condor Peak
  • Fall Creek Canyon
  • Mt Lukens Fire Road
  • Grizzly Flat Fire Road
  • Doc Larsen
  • Rattlesnake Trail
  • Everything east of Chilao

Keep in mind that even though these trails are in the opened area, the individual trails may be signed closed (And those signs mustl be respected). Many of the trails will not be in good shape, so be prepared for surprises like downed trees, massive ruts or slides, washouts, and other hazards.

Closed Trails (Until Further Notice)

  • Strawberry Peak
  • Tom Sloan
  • Dawn Mine
  • Millard Falls
  • Upper Brown Mountain (Saddle to the Summit/Ken Burton)
  • Ken Burton
  • Gabrielino from Switzers to Paul Little
  • Crescenta View
  • Alder Creek
  • Colby Canyon
  • Josephine
  • Vetter Mountain

In addition to the above a separate closure remains in effect for the Williamson Rock area  (Closure Map is available).

50% of Station Fire Closure to Re-open

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Angeles National Forest supervisor Tom Contreras and District Ranger Mike McIntyre, on Wednesday announced that they were hoping to get approval from the regional director to open approximately 50% of the Station Fire closure area. It only requires a review and a signature, and we hope to have that on Thursday [May 24], in time for the Memorial Day weekend.

Last year the closure order was revised a few days before the memorial day weekend.

The area slated for opening includes everything west of Fall Creek fire road (3N27), which descends from Mount Gleason Road to Big Tujunga Canyon.  Trails in the newly opened area include Stone Canyon, Condor Peak, Trail Canyon and Mendenhall Ridge. Some work has been done on Stone Canyon, Condor Peak trail, and Trail Canyon trail, though their readiness for bicycling is unknown. If these or other trails are not in safe enough condition for public use, the trails will be signed as closed, even though the area is technically open.

Condor Peak was once slated for a wilderness designation, and as a show of protest, CORBA and IMBA led a mass group ride up Condor Peak to demonstrate its viability as a backcountry multi-use trail including bicycles. It’s a steep and challenging trail, and we’ll be very happy to see it opened again.

The announcement was made at a Sierra Club event at Eaton Canyon Nature Center on Wednesday evening, March 23, 2012.  Forest Service staff reported on the station fire recovery efforts. Nathan Sill, staff biologist for the forest reported pre- and post-fire population counts of several endangered species including the Arroyo Toad, Arroyo Chubb, Mountain Yellow-legged frog, Spotted Owl and others. Most of the species covered have shown significant population increases since the fire and are recovering well.

Steve Bear, forester for the Angeles National Forest reported on the controversial re-forestation efforts and the plans for the next five years.

This post will updated when the closure revision is officially announced.

Update: Maps have been released showing the closure:

 

2012-05-24-station-fire-closure-order

Rim Trail Trailwork – Report and Upcoming Jan 8

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

After CORBA’s productive trailwork day on the Rim trail in December, Belfree contractors went in and worked their magic on the most dangerous sections of the trail.

On December 28, 29, and 30th, they hiked in with hand tools and professional know-how and achieved what would seem impossible. The narrowest, most dangerous sections of trail have been restored to a much safer width.

The slide areas near the top and the large one about two miles in have been repaired, with rock retaining walls built and/or repaired. At least 6 rock retaining walls were built, repaired or replaced, and one large tree which had fallen onto the trail and was standing nearly vertically, leaning against the rock face above, was removed. CORBA contracted Bellfree Contractors for the work using a trail restoration grant from REI. When combined with our volunteer work, the grant money has helped open at least three popular trails in the Angeles.

The Rim trail is possibly in the best shape it has been in the last 10 – 15 years. Because only natural, local rock was used for reinforcement, the trail still retains a very rugged feel, and has not lost any of it’s backcountry character. In the before and after photo two retaining walls that were built and one that was repaired can be seen. We thank Bellfree Contractors for working with us to stay within our grant budget, and yet achieve so much.

We plan another day of trailwork with a small volunteer crew this weekend, on January 8, and continue brushing and benching the last two miles of the trail down to Newcombe’s Saddle. Please RSVP to trailcrew@corbamtb.com/ We’ll be cutting back slough and re-establishing the bench starting two miles in, and for as much of the trail as we can get to in one day. This will mean a two mile hike down to the work site. You’re welcome to ride a bike and continue on to Chantry Flat, or ride/hike back up, but will need to make your own shuttle arrangements. Wear sturdy shoes, long pants, long sleeves, and gloves if you have them (we’ll supply gloves and hard hats if you don’t). Meet at Mt. Wilson by the observatory at 8:30 a.m. Carpool from the ACH, just north of the 210 freeway at 7:45 a.m. Thanks for making a difference to our trails.

2011-12-29 rim trail before and after

Beware the Poodle Dog Bush

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Poodle Dog Bush, this example about six feet tallThis pretty but toxic native bush is wreaking havoc on many trail users in the recently opened Station Fire area.

Many people have been returning to the Angeles National Forest since the opening of the trails in May. As summer weather entices riders to the high country, many are getting their first glimpses of a changed forest. One of those changes is the abundant Poodle Dog Bush.

Poodle Dog Bush, also known as Common Turricula, or Purple Flower Poodle Bush, is a beautiful purple flowered native bush. It’s an opportunist. Its seeds will lie dormant in chaparral areas for many years waiting for a major disturbance of the soil. Fire is one such disturbance, and the Station Fire has brought the bush back to life with a vengeance.

People often stop on the Angeles Crest Highway or along trails to pick the pretty purple flowers. It is unfamiliar to most people, and quite attractive. It has long slender serrated leaves and flower stems similar in appearance to Phacelia, though it has an upleasant, slightly pungeant odor. The stems grow from the base of the plant and it can grow to eight feet tall.

What people don’t realize is that the bush is covered with tiny hairs similar to stinging nettle, seen clearly in the close-up image below. However, there is no immediate pain or sensation like nettle gives. Poodle Dog hairs will latch on to bare skin or clothing and release a toxin to which most people will have a severe contact dermatitis type reaction. The swelling, rash and itching appear twelve hours to two days after contacting the bush, and the rash can last for two weeks or more and require medical attention. Severe cases can result in large blisters.

Poodle Dog Bush Stalks, clearly showing the fine hairs

The bush is more prevalent at higher elevations, but can appear throughout the recently burned areas. Forest Service officials have stated that the current post-Station Fire bloom is the largest in recent history. Trail users and trail maintenance volunteers need to be especially cautious, as it has appeared along many trails including narrow single track trails where it is difficult to avoid.

If exposed to the bush, avoid scratching the affected area. Clothes, tools or other equipment that has come into contact should be handled with caution and washed separately from other clothes. Calamine or over-the-counter Hydrocortizone cream may provide some relief, but if blisters begin to form medical attention may be required. Poison Oak remedies such as Zanfel or Tecnu have little effect, but washing the area as soon as possible after exposure is advised.

We need to be aware of Poodle Dog Bush. It’s life-cycle can last up to ten years after a significant fire or other disturbance. Eventually it will die off and lay dormant once again, waiting for the next big fire to come back to life.

Station Fire Recovery Efforts Covered in Mountain Bike Magazine

Friday, June 25th, 2010

The Station fire has been a devastating blow to outdoor recreation throughout Southern California. CORBA’s Steve Messer was recently interviewed by Mountain Bike Magazine about the extensive damage and impact to the trails, and pondered on how the recovery efforts might proceed.

Messer was probably the last person to ride Sam Merrill, Sunset Ridge and El Prieto trails before the fire swept through the area. Ironically, he was on his way with CORBA’s trail crew to do some trail repair work on Sunset Ridge trail as the fire broke out.

It’s clear that the recovery will take many years. At present it is too early in the process to speculate on when the forest and severely damaged trails may re-open. The Mountain Bike magazine story does a nice job of laying out the challenges and opportunities, and showing how CORBA, the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association and others might be called to action going forward.

The full article is available as PDF document.

 

Angeles Crest Highway Open to the Angeles National Forest

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Cyclist and others gather for the ACH highway 2 opening ceremony and press release This morning, June 3, 2011, at 10 a.m. the Angeles Crest Highway was opened to motor traffic, bicycles and pedestrians. It has been closed since the Station Fire of 2009, while numerous repairs were made to the highway. It had been scheduled to open last November, but one of last winter’s heavy storms brought down the hillside onto the newly repaired road. Repairs have been completed on the section between La Canada and Clear Creek. Construction continues on a few sections beyond the Mt. Wilson road junction, but traffic is being flagged through the construction zone.

Caltrans also removed the winter closure of the highway at Islip Saddle. ACH is now open all the way through to Wrightwood.

Dozens of cyclists were among the first to pass the ceremonially opened gate, just outside the Angeles National Forest border. CORBA volunteers Steve Messer, Mike and Robin McGuire were also on hand, and took the opportunity to do some trailwork along the Grizzly Flat fire road after climbing Mt. Lukens.

This has been a much-anticipated day, welcomed by hikers, mountain bikers, and everyone who just wants easier access to the forest.

Angeles Crest Highway 2 openingThe highway opening has come just a few weeks after the May 16 opening of many trails that had been closed due to the Station Fire. A complete list of opened trails can be found in our previous story.

Angeles National Forest Trails to Open May 16, 2011

Friday, May 13th, 2011

The two questions we have been asked more than any other recently: “which trails are closed in the Angeles National Forest?  and “which trails are open in the Angeles National Forest?”

According to the Forest Service map of the station fire closure area at http://maps.fs.fed.us/stationfire/ the list below shows the status, effective May 16 2011, of some of the more popular trails that were affected by the Station Fire. Keep in mind that even though these trails are in the newly opened areas of the forest, the individual trails may be signed closed.  Please respect any trail closure signs and stay off those trails for your own safety and the recovery of the forest.

Many of the trails will not be in good shape, so be prepared for surprises like downed trees, slides, washouts, ruts, and other hazards. Many trails have been drastically changed from before the Station Fire. Many fire roads have not yet been graded and may be much narrower and in very poor condition with ruts and washouts. All the usual caveats about trail safety apply so use the trails safely and responsibly, and be especially careful the first time you travel on one of the newly opened trails.

Opened Trails (As of May 16, 2011 – Updated July 31, 2011) - 

  • Brown Mountain (to the saddle)
  • El Prieto
  • Gabrielino (JPL to Paul Little)
  • Gabrielino (Switzers to Redbox to Chantry)
  • Bear Canyon Trail
  • Sam Merrill Trail
  • Castle Canyon Trail
  • Sunset Ridge Trail
  • Mt. Lowe West Trail
  • Idlehour Trail
  • Kenyon Devore Trail
  • Rim Trail
  • Sturtevant Trail
  • Santa Clara Divide Truck Trail (Dillon Divide to Mt. Gleason to Three Points – non-motorized only)
  • Chilao Loop/Mt. Hillyer
  • Silver Mocassin
  • Shortcut
  • Valley forge
  • Mt. Lukens road (once the highway opens)
  • Earl Canyon
  • Haines Canyon
  • Mt Lukens Fire Road (as of June 3 opening of Angeles Crest Highway)
  • Graveyard Truck Trail
  • Grizzly Flat Fire Road
  • Doc Larsen
  • Everything east of Chilao

Keep in mind that even though these trails are in the opened area, the individual trails may be signed closed (And those signs mustl be respected). Many of the trails will not be in good shape, so be prepared for surprises like downed trees, massive ruts or slides, washouts, and other hazards.

Closed Trails (Until Further Notice)

  • Strawberry Peak
  • Tom Sloan
  • Dawn Mine
  • Millard Falls
  • Upper Brown Mountain (Saddle to the Summit/Ken Burton)
  • Ken Burton
  • Gabrielino from Switzers to Paul Little
  • Hoyt
  • Stone Canyon
  • Crescenta View
  • Rim of the Valley
  • Condor Peak Trail
  • Trail Canyon
  • Alder Creek
  • Colby Canyon
  • Josephine
  • Mueller Tunnel
  • Vetter Mountain

In addition to the above a separate closure remains in effect for the Williamson Rock area  (Closure Map is available).