Posts Tagged ‘trailwork’

Ken Burton Trail Restoration Continues December 13

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015
MWBA and CORBA Trail Crew

Most of the Sunday, 11/22 crew after they arrived. Thanks guys and gals!

On Sunday, November 22nd, 2015, we had our third full trail restoration work day on Ken Burton trail with the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association. 23 volunteers made the 7 mile, 2000′ climb to pitch in. Bob trailers were used once again to get needed tools and supplies to the work site.

We continued on from where we finished last time. The crews worked feverishly for a solid four hours, clearing an additional 1600′ of trail. We’re making rapid progress, thanks in part to the excellent original construction by the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association in the 1990’s.


Ken Burton Hike a Bike

Before: A group who poached the closed trail in 2013. The brush is only thicker and taller now.


Completed trailwork Ken Burton

After our crew had been through


Ken Burton Trail Restoration

After: looking the other direction

The before and after is quite dramatic. Where the trail was previously completely obscured by brush, it is now in better shape than before the fire. Our crews are getting it down to a fine art. We’re using power hedge trimmers for the initial brush clearance, followed by swampers (who remove and stash the cut brush), then loppers and hand saws to fine tune the brush and stump removal.  The lead crew is followed by a tread crew, working to remove stumps and roots from the tread, and pull down slough to restore the original trail tread.  We’re cutting the trail to its original 36 – 48″ tread width where possible, knowing that it will narrow down again with time.

Ken Burton Trailwork

Getting close to the memorial and the top of the switchbacks


Ken Burton Memorial. Plaque has been long gone.

Ken Burton Memorial. The plaque is long gone.

Our target for the day was to reach the Ken Burton Memorial, a plaque dedicated to USFS Battalion Chief Ken Burton, who was killed in a car crash in November 1985. For those who remember the trail, the memorial was just before the very first switchback descending into the Arroyo Seco canyon. We made it to the Memorial at about 1 p.m., leaving time for people to gather tools, load up trailers and ride back down for lunch at 2. Pat Phillips, a local Altadena resident and one of the original construction crew in the 1990’s, graciously hosted us for lunch afterwards.

Failed wire basket retaining wall

Failed wire basket retaining wall


We’ve also reached the first failed retaining wall structure. In my survey of the trail, only two sections of retaining wall structure failed out of the dozens used, a testament to the work of the original MWBA crew. Those dozens of structures have survived three major El Nino winters and one Station Fire.


Project Status. Click for a larger view.

So far we’ve cleared approximately .7 miles of the trail, about 1/3 of the work. We have a couple more days of very similar work before it will get especially thick and tough near the bottom. At that time we’ll need to coordinate with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps who are working on the Gabrielino trail, near where it meets the bottom of Ken Burton trail.

Thanks again to all the volunteers who came out to help. Our next work day is December 13 (weather permitting). Our tentative dates starting next year are January 10 and January 24, to be confirmed soon. The more people who contribute, the better our chances of riding this trail next summer!


Help restore Ken Burton Trail, Nov 7, 8

Thursday, October 29th, 2015
The trail is heavily overgrown

The trail is heavily overgrown

We have been waiting for some time to begin work on the Ken Burton trail. This much-loved trail was built by the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association in the early 90s, creating a loopable route with Brown Mountain and the Gabrielino Trail. CORBA used a generous grant of $10,000 from REI to help fund the restoration of the Gabrielino Trail from Paul Little to Oakwilde Campground. We coordinated with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps who continue to work on the segment north of Oakwilde this fall.

CORBA and MWBA have been given permission to work on Ken Burton, and to connect it to the restored section of the Gabrielino. Once completed, we’ll be asking the Forest Service to open the Brown, Ken Burton, Gabrilieno loop route to the public.

We have scheduled a work weekend on the 7th/8th of November. Logistics require us to haul in tools and equipment by Bob Trailer. Most of the two days of work will entail cutting back brush. Surprisingly, much of the tread is in good condition, and most of the switchbacks appear to be generally intact. This says a lot about the quality of construction by the MWBA’s pioneers and their dedication to quality trail building. Only a few wire baskets have failed out of the many that were used.

Please RSVP for the trailwork on our meetup group at or on the MWBA Facebook page.


When: Meet Saturday, November 7, 2015, 7:30.a.m. Windsor and Ventura parking lot.  Ride up to
the top of upper Brown Mountain fire road starting at 8, and meet there at 9:15. We’ll work until about 1 p.m before riding back down.

Sunday, November 8, 2015, meet at 7:45 a.m. at Windsor and Ventura Parking lot. Ride  up at 8 a.m..

You may come out for either or both days.

What to bring:

Eye protection (cycling style sunglasses are fine), work gloves (if you have them), sunscreen, water and trail food, sturdy shoes. You are required to wear long pants and long sleeves, though these can be packed for the ride up and changed into at the top. We’ll be supplying forest-service required hard-hats, gloves and tools. A GMRS radio could also be helpful.

What to expect:

Experienced trail crew members will be using power tools (hedge trimmers, etc) to clear brush; others will clear the cuttings from the trail and do minor tread work. You’ll need to sign a waiver for CORBA, and a Job Hazard Analysis for the Forest Service. If under 18, be accompanied by a parent or guardian, at least to sign the waiver before we start, and assign a guardian who will be with us. People should be familiar with the ride up and the location. Those hauling trailers are welcome to take off early, and they can be briefed on safety at the top.

The ride in will be about 7 miles with 2000′ of elevation gain on a mix of fire road, double track and singletrack. Expect to ride all the way up, though there’s a few possible hike-a-bikes. We expect everyone to be at the upper Ken Burton trailhead by 9:15 and ready to hike down the trail and begin work.

We’ll be clearing brush, removing vegetation growing on the tread or leaning over the trail corridor, approximately 4 – 5 feet either side of the center of the tread. There will be some tread repair in a few places where the trail bench cut has been filled with slough, and some light tread grooming over other areas. We’ll break at about 11, take an assessment of how everyone feels and see who wants to continue. We hope to finish work about 1, and be heading back to our bikes for the descent back to the bottom.

Afterwards, those who wish may join us for lunch at a location to be announced.

Those hauling bob trailers should understand what an extra 50 pounds feels like on a ride like this, and have something left over to do trailwork. If you’re interested in hauling a trailer (a smaller chainring is helpful) post in the comments or contact Steve [at]

Severe weather cancels the event, including heavy rain, high fire danger and/or high wind, or other circumstances. Check CORBA’s pages on either Meetup or Facebook before you head out just to make sure that we’re still on.  November 15 will be a backup day in case of weather cancellation.

We hope to see you there showing how much you love and miss our trails and that mountain bikers are one of the most active stewards of the trails.


20151015006-Ken Burton Trailwork Scouting

Typical trail conditions


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 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, 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.


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 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.