County to Open Canyon Trail to Bicycles

Canyon Trail

Canyon Trail

Thanks to the efforts of local mountain biking advocates from the Santa Clarita Valley, the County today announced that the Canyon trail will be opened to bicycles.  The report identified trail improvements and modifications needed to ensure that bicycles can be added to the existing users safely, and these modifications will take place over the next five months. The County is seeking authorization to apply for habitat restoration grants to install bridges along the Canyon trail.

The canyon trail is an easy trail, suitable for beginners, kids and family mountain bikers. It is also part of the longer and much-loved Los Pinetos loop. While the department is going to uphold the recommendation to open bikes, the decision could be challenged by other user groups. However, the State’s “Change in Use” trail assessment, which the County used to assess the trail, is designed from the ground up to be objective and defensible. Still, we need to thank the County and the people involved in the process, and keep an open dialog with them going forward.

We extend our congratulations and sincerest thanks to The Santa Clarita Valley Trail Users group who were able to harness, contain and focus the community’s initial reaction to the trail being closed to bikes almost two years ago.  Throughout the process they stuck to the “high road” as CORBA always recommends. Our collective patience and diligence through the process has paid off.  The trail is expected to open in spring 2013.

The Heritage trail in Vasquez Rocks is a different story. The County has identified many problems with innumerable “volunteer” trails in the area and a need for significant restoration, repair and trail improvements. The recommendation to keep the Heritage trail closed to bikes was upheld. In the future, when this park is re-assessed and new trails are considered, we will make sure to have a voice at the table.

From the LA County Parks web site:

TRAIL ASSESSMENT RECOMMENDATIONS UPHELD FOR HERITAGE AND CANYON TRAILS

Following two community meetings and the review of all comments, the County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation announced today that it will uphold the Trail Assessment recommendations for the Placerita Canyon Trail and Vasquez Rocks Heritage Trail. The recommendation is to not allow mountain bikes on the Heritage Trail at Vasquez Rocks Natural Area in Agua Dulce and to allow mountain bikes on the CanyonTrail at Placerita Canyon Natural Area in Newhall.

The recommendation to not allow mountain bikes on the Heritage Trail is based on the presence of significant cultural resources which could be negatively impacted by additional trail use; a lack of trails or connections to other trails outside the natural area where mountain biking is allowed; existing trail conditions which have been significantly compromised by many user created trails and the significant revegetation necessary to clarify the trail alignment.

The recommendation to allow mountain bikes on the Canyon Trail is contingent on the addition of pinch points, signage, erosion control measures and other trail maintenance items.

Trail maintenance for both trails will start within the next few weeks and following the completion of maintenance on the Canyon Trail, which is estimated to be completed in March 2013, mountain bikes will be allowed on the trail. The Department will address the safety concerns as identified in the Trail Assessment Report to ensure that the Placerita Canyon Trail is a safe trail for all users.

“We greatly appreciate the feedback we received from the community during and after the two community meetings,” said Russ Guiney, Director of the County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation. “We received 784 comments and took each comment into consideration. Trail use is a passionate issue for hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers. We are hopeful that working together the user groups will enjoy the recreational benefit of the trails while allowing trail and resource sustainability for years to come.”

The Trail Assessment process was completed by an independent consultant, The Planning Center|DC&E, who has extensive trail operations and sustainability experience. The consultant conducted two community meetings and solicited comments from the public as a part of the assessment process and made the Trail Assessment recommendations. The process used by the consultant and the Department is similar to one developed by California State Parks, but was modified to reflect the County’s Trails Manual guidelines and classifications. The purpose of the assessment process was to evaluate the condition of the trail and the trail’s sustainability as it pertains to existing and/or proposed use(s).

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