Posts Tagged ‘trailwork’

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.

 

What CORBA Does

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

By Mark Langton

Bikes, horses, hikers and runners

Bikes, horses, hikers and runners. We all love trails.

Recently a bicycle club-team representative  contacted CORBA wanting to see what more they could do to get more of the trails that are currently closed to bicycles opened up to shared use. A couple of comments from the correspondence were that they thought that showing up in larger numbers to public meetings would help, and that they thought the main reason that trails were closed were because of an influential public anti-bicycle lobby.

I wrote back to the person who contacted me, and in doing so came up with what I think is a good overview of what CORBA has been doing for the past 26 years, and continues to do on behalf of all public backcountry trail users (see below). Yes, CORBA is a mountain bike organization, but we are more than that, and here’s why: We believe that shared use works better because it disperses use, rather than concentrating it. When you disperse use, you reduce congestion, and when you reduce congestion, you reduce confrontation. Moreover, it has been shown that where shared use trails exist, it works. Maybe not perfectly, but certainly better than where there are restrictions to bicycles, because shared use also fosters cooperation. Bicycles do mix when operated considerately and with the safety and serenity of other trail users in mind. And that’s the crux of the issue: If bicyclists would simply slow down around others, including other bicyclists, they would be solving the problem of both dangerous speed, and the “startle factor,” or the disruption of another’s peaceful enjoyment of the backcountry.

Here’s what I wrote to that bicycle club team member:

This year CORBA celebrated its 26th anniversary. In that time we have made many strides to opening trails to shared use (hiking, equestrian, bicycle) in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles County, and Eastern Ventura County. We have participated in hundreds of public meetings with land managers over the years. Land managers recognize and continue to adapt to the growing bicycle population and changing demographic profile of the trail user community. They are certainly aware of the needs and desires of the mountain biking community through CORBA’s efforts, which include quarterly meetings with principal agency managers (National Park Service, State Parks, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority). We are also in constant communication with these agencies and/or when the need arises to address a specific issue. CORBA also works closely with the Mountain Bike Unit which aids the rangers and community with safety and education. CORBA also schedules and organizes regular trail maintenance work days s in conjunction with the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council and Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency. CORBA is also heavily involved with the Angeles National Forest with trail maintenance and volunteer patrol participation. Due to CORBA’s efforts, most of the singletrack trails built in the last 25 years are shared use (not to mention a lot of the singletrack that already existed not getting shut down).

 As you can see, there is more to getting involved than just showing up at meetings in large numbers. The issue of bikes not being allowed on trails is more than just politically active opponents to bicycles; it is mired in an outdated management policy of restriction that is predicated to a large degree on ignorance and a status quo mentality. Within the last few years there has been a systemic change for adopting shared use as the overriding management strategy. It is a slow moving process but we do see a very strong indication that within the next few years we will see many more trails opening to shared use on a statewide basis than currently exists. This change comes from consistent efforts not only by CORBA, but mountain bike advocates all over the state, with assistance from the International Mountain Bicycle Association (of which CORBA was a founding club in 1988).

 The one concern that is always at the forefront of managers’ minds is safety. It is agreed by everyone that bicycles are an acceptable form of public open space trail recreation. However, it is when riders go too fast around other users as to make it an unsafe or even just an unpleasant experience that gets mountain bikers a bad reputation, and gets the managers to thinking about restricting bicycles. If everyone would just slow down when passing others, and slow down into corners so they don’t scare others on the other side, we would pretty much solve the problem. I am not saying you shouldn’t go fast, I’m just saying do it when conditions are safe. 

COSCA Trail Work Day Oct. 2012 Turns Out Big Numbers: Report and Photo Gallery

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Steve Clark of CORBA and the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council pauses during work on the re-routed section of Hawk Canyon Trail.

The 22nd COSCA Trail Work Day had one of the largest turnouts in history this past Saturday with 160 volunteers helping build nearly a mile of new trail in the Western Plateau area to the west of Wildwood Park. An entirely new section of trail was installed which re-routed the existing trail away from an unstable stream-side exposure.

Blake Donley (left) won the grand prize Giant Revel 4 mountain bike, donated by Giant Bicycles, at the Trail Work Day opportunity drawing.

The staging location was new this year, with volunteers meeting at the new Santa Rosa Park facility off Sant Rosa Road in Santa Rosa Valley. The Western Plateau area of the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency will be getting many more miles of trails installed within the next several years.

See our photo gallery to see all the goings on!

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.

Tapia Spur Trail to Undergo Shared-Use Upgrades Starting in September

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

State Parks has announced that the multi-use Tapia Spur Trail in Malibu Creek State Park/Tapia Park will undergo several changes to address the trail’s ability to sustain shared use by hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers. The work is tentatively set to begin in September of 2011.

According to State Parks’ Tapia Spur Trail project description (Tapia Spur Trail Muli-Use Work Project Report – PDF), dated April 12, 2011, Tapia Spur Trail lacks a variety of components necessary to adequately accommodate multi-use moving forward based on new multi-use guidelines, and therefore intends to implement several multi-use components that will bring the trail up to current multi-use guidelines. These components include brushing (which has already begun), improved drainage and increased tread width, speed control sections in areas lacking sight distance, and realignment of one stretch of trail  to increase sight distance and redirect the trail off the fall line.

Of particular interest to CORBA are the components of “sinuosity” (the trail weaving in and out of the topography to create a curvy alignment) and “pinch points” (placement of items such as rocks or logs that create a perceived narrow point in the trail corridor). Both of these components have been used in other areas with good results; that of slowing the mountain biker while maintaining an enjoyable experience for the cyclist, hiker, and equestrian. As I have previously stated, slowing down around other trail users can virtually eliminate the complaints by those who say that mountain bikes are dangerous because they go too fast. While most cyclists are in control of their bikes when passing other trail users, the perception of speed–even a few miles per hour–can reduce or even spoil another user’s trail experience, including other mountain bikers. We’re all out there for the same reason, to enjoy nature. Treating others with respect is part of that enjoyment.

CORBA is encouraged by this upgrade project as it will allow State Parks to work more closely with the trail user community in implementing shared use concepts and guidelines. Tapia Spur Trail can become a showcase of proper multi-use practices, and with the assistance and cooperation of the mountain bike community, we can potentially have a comprehensive example of multi-use guideline implementation. CORBA has been assured that mountain bikers will be considered in every step of component implementation on this important trail link from Malibu Creek State Park to Tapia Park.

I’d like to take this opportunity to remind the mountain bike community that CORBA’s funding and volunteer needs are ongoing. Trail work volunteers are still needed, as well as funding for CORBA Trail Crew tools and other supplies. Just recently State Parks released a comprehensive trail crew leader training schedule, and in addition to trail workers, we also need those interested in becoming trained and certified as trail crew leaders. Training starts July 7 so we need volunteers immediately. To contact CORBA, email advocacy@corbamtb.com, and go to our Join/Donate page to to help support CORBA’s efforts.

Sunset Ridge Trailwork

Monday, June 6th, 2011


Angeles Mountain Patrol and CORBA Volunteer Robin McGuire

On Saturday June 4th, CORBA volunteers worked with Mount Wilson Bicycling Association to restore the Lower Sunset Ridge trail. The one-mile trail runs between Millard Campground and the Mt. Lowe Fire Road. This portion of the National Forest had just been opened a few weeks prior, and the trail was in relatively good shape, but severely overgrown in places.

The original plan was to split into two crews and tackle both the Lower Sunset Ridge and brushing on the Sunset Ridge trail.  It was a disappointingly low turnout, with only five people coming out to give back to the trails. However, the five who came out were all experienced trailworkers, and we were able to get the entire trail brushed. That includes all the poison oak. We also rebuilt a basket that supports the trail through a drainage, carrying several tons of rock by hand to fill the void in the trail and restore the tread.

Mount Wilson Bicycling Association had done a previous day of work on State Trails day, repairing another problem drainage along this trail. We’re happy to see the MWBA getting more active once again, and look forward to working with them on future trailwork days.

Thanks to Mitch Marich of the Mount Wilson Bicycle Association, Angeles Mountain Patrol and intrepid trailwork volunteers Mike and Robin McGuire for all your sweat.

More before and after pictures after the break.

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Sunset Ridge Trailwork, National Trails Day (June 4)

Friday, May 27th, 2011

On Saturday, June 4, 2011, join CORBA and the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association for a day of trailwork on Sunset Ridge trail in the Angeles National Forest front country.

The Sunset Ridge trail is among those that was recently re-opened to the public. It is a popular hiking and mountain biking trail in the foothills above Altadena and Pasadena. It is often ridden as a loop with the Sam Merril Trail or Mt. Lowe Fireroad.

The trail has seen many days of volunteer maintenance since the station fire by several different volunteer groups, and the tread is in reasonably good shape. However, this season’s ample rains and a lack of traffic on the trail have allowed the trail to become severely overgrown in many sections. Our primary focus for this trailwork day will be brush removal, with some treadwork on sections that need it.

Meet at 8:00 a.m. at the Millard Campground parking lot at the top of Chaney Trail in Altadena. From there we will carpool one group to the upper section of trail while another group starts at the bottom and works upwards. Be sure to wear long pants, long sleeves, and sturdy shoes, as you may be turned away if you don’t meet these minimum Forest Service requirements for trail volunteers.  We will have gloves and hard-hats for volunteers (required for all trailwork volunteers in the National Forest), but bring your own if you have them.

Where:   Millard Parking Lot   (Top of Chaney Trail in Altadena)

When:  Saturday, June 4, 2011, 8:00 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Bring:  Long sleeves, long pants, sturdy shoes, water/snack or energy food, gloves and hard hats (These will be supplied if you don’t have them).

Let us know:  RSVP to  trailcrew@corbamtb.com or on our Facebook Event

MRT Begins Mustard Eradication on the New Millennium Trail

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
New Millenium Trail in 2008, without eradication efforts

New Millenium Trail in April 2008, without eradication efforts

Today, March 28, the Mountains Restoration Trust will begin eradication of the invasive Mustard plants along the New Millennium Trail. Each year by early summer the mustard can choke off the trail and render it near-impassable. This is especially true after above-average rainfall seasons like we’ve experienced this year.

This picture from April 2008 shows how the New Millennium Trail will likely look again if no eradication effort is undertaken.

CORBA has provided funds to the MRT to help support their efforts. This will save many days of brush-clearing trailwork in the early summer, allowing us to concentrate on other trailwork efforts.

We thank the MRT for helping keep this much-loved trail rideable for all.

Rogers Road Trail Update

Monday, November 15th, 2010

On November 10, CORBA Board members Mark Langton, Jeff Klinger, Hans Keifer, Danusia Bennet-Taber, and Steve Messer, along with Jim Hasenauer of IMBA and Bryan Gordon of the Canyonback Alliance, walked/rode the upper section of Rogers Road Trail with Topanga Sector Superintendent Lynette Brody and Maintenance Supervisor Dale Skinner.  This tour was arranged by CORBA with these State Park employees in response to intense public input regarding recent work performed on the “re-route” (singletrack) section of trail (west where it meets Temescal Ridge Fire Road) as well as about a mile and a half of the wider road bed to the east of the singletrack. In the past few weeks, Supervisor Skinner has used a Sweco trail tractor/dozer to fix and install several drainage channels, as well as bring the trail up to vegetation clearance guidelines for multiple use, specifically, equestrians. Many local trail users have complained to State Parks that the work was overdone and that a once narrow, serene singletrack trail has been obliterated into a road.

There are actually two separate sections, the “re-route” which was built as a true narrow trail, and the main Rogers Road Trail, which was originally a road cut that supported wide and heavy equipment.

Earlier comments on CORBA’s web site began by trying to assuage concerns of trail users not familiar with this kind of work by saying that typically trails “come back” to a more natural state after a couple of seasons. This can be said for the “re-route” section, although CORBA noted to Supervisor Skinner that the widening created a “faster trail” and suggested that possible speed control devices such as pinch-point structures be considered.

As for the wider section, based on the tour that took place on November 10, CORBA’s original comments were premature. After witnessing the complete section of the work area and hearing comments made by Supervisor Skinner, as well as an evaluation by professional trail contractor Hans Keifer, it is evident that the work that was performed lacked forethought and consideration for minimal impact. In fact, no Project Evaluation Form (PEF) was submitted for this work and therefore is in direct violation of the department’s own policy. We were assured by both Superintendent Brody and Supervisor Skinner that the work will not continue until a Project Evaluation Form is completed and that trail users will have a say in the process, which they said could take several months to over a year.

It’s true that after new construction or trail maintenance, trails look bare and lose their natural character.  Typically, Spring rains create new vegetation which helps the trails recover some of their more natural character.   This has been our experience on several agency trail maintenance projects in the past.  In the case of the recent work on the wider section of Rogers Road Trail there was a fundamental disagreement between the State’s position that Rogers should be maintained to “road” standards and that vegetation should be cut wider than the 8-foot wide/10-foot high vegetation clearance suggested by multiple use guidelines–and CORBA’s position that Rogers is a trail (the Backbone Trail), not a road; that the 8-foot/10-foot clearance was for new trail construction, not existing trails, and that the trail should be left as narrow and natural as possible while addressing and achieving the maintenance concerns of water drainage and a proper vegetation width for shared use with equestrians.

We acknowledged that this is a multi-use trail that must work for all users and that there are several drainage and maintenance issues that are beyond the scope of handwork.  We demonstrated how anything more than an 8-foot clearance wasn’t necessary for safety or sustainability and that in many cases the clearance that has been done was far wider than eight feet.  CORBA’s position is that this work went too far and urged State Parks to minimize the impact of the maintenance on the only bike-legal singletrack in Topanga State Park.

We were informed that the plan was to continue the work down to the Will Rogers State Historic Park Trail Loop, and we also expressed serious concern about continuing these impacts into what is admittedly an eroded and deteriorating section of trail. Superintendent Brody and Supervisor Skinner reiterated that moving forward, greater evaluation and a full PEF would take place and could take several months to over a year.

Examination of the new/refurbished drains that were installed shows minimal attention to corrected out sloping to facilitate proper drainage; drains were basically cut with only a few passes with the Sweco’s blade and very little additional shaping or contouring was evident. On another section of trail, an entire corner (approximately 250-300 square feet) was scraped clean of vegetation, with the reason for the denudation being “ it’s for the hikers. Hikers like the beautiful views.” This brush clearance ignores the fact that it created a large, bare, disturbed area of unprotected, easily eroded earth that will exacerbate hydro erosion because there is no root system to control runoff. Also, there was no drain installed at the bottom of the hill where water would run to from this bare area. Another section of trail further south was smoothed of ruts and out sloped correctly. However, the width of the tread was increased to approximately 12 feet, far more than what CORBA considers appropriate or necessary.

Maintenance Supervisor Dale Skinner (left foreground) and members of CORBA discuss the complete removal of vegetation from dozens of square yards of soil at an "overlook" section of Rogers Road Trail. Photo by Jim Hasenauer

Again, we were assured by both Superintendent Brody and Supervisor Skinner that the work will not continue until a Project Evaluation Form is completed and that trail users will have a say in the process. Check back here for further information as we get it. There will be several opportunities to get involved as trail planning in Topanga State Park and the rest of the Santa Monica’s moves forward. We encourage you to get involved with your parks’ planning process and be proactive in shaping park policy, planning and landscapes.

Mountain Bikers Preserving the Trails

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Sunday’s trailwork on El Prieto went exceptionally well. We had perfectly cool, clear weather, damp soil that was easy to work with, and good spirits all around. Thanks to the approximately 50 people who came out to show this heavily damaged trail some much-needed love.

Rock Armoring Teamwork

Rock Armoring Teamwork

In over 320 person-hours of labor, several washed out drainages were restored, brush was cut back, and many vulnerable sections of the trail tread received rock-armoring treatment. We were even able to restore one section of the original trail that had all-but vanished since the fires. With some diligent hand-tool work and brush cutting, the “cactus corner” section was re-cut and benched, and is ready for finish work.

Special thanks to the St. Francis high school mountain bike team, who came out in force to contribute. Of today’s volunteer trailworkers, more than half were high school team mountain bikers.

As high school students, not only did they learn about trail construction and sustainability, they also gained insight into what makes a “good” trail: how it flows, how it handles water, how sight-lines affect safety on the trail and many other tidbits that one usually doesn’t have time to think about when riding a trail.

Another wonderful aspect of high-school team riders is that many of their parents also get involved. Many are introduced not only to the sport of mountain biking, but to volunteerism and trail stewardship. At least eight parents of high school racers also put sweat equity into the trail on Sunday.

The Forest Service is also requiring all volunteer trail working groups to use safety gear including gloves and hard hats. Thanks to the generous support of REI we were able to outfit all our volunteers with hard hats, a first for CORBA trail crews. We also thank Flat Attack tire sealant for their support of CORBA’s programs.

Special thanks also to Banner Moffat and the Friends of El Prieto, for their ongoing regular work that has helped keep this trail from disappearing altogether since the Station Fire, even though it remains closed to the public. We’re hoping that El Prieto will be a top priority for re-opening by the FS after the rain season ends.

El Prieto trailwork

The original trail restored

Flash flooding and unstable hillsides are still major concerns, and the reason this and many other Station Fire trails will remain closed at least through next spring. In a recent meeting with the non-motorized trails supervisor for the forest, we discussed some creative ways that CORBA, the Friends of El Prieto and other volunteers might work together to open this trail sooner, rather than later. Some possibilities might include a “conditional” opening, where the trail would be closed at any sign of rain, and surveyed after each rain for safety. At this point, the mountain bike community would welcome any access to El Prieto.

Keeping the trail in good shape is the first and most important step towards that goal. Thanks again to everyone who came out!