Los Pinetos Trailwork with SCVTU and LA County

New LA County Trail SignageOn Saturday, August 10, 30 volunteers converged on Walker Ranch in Santa Clarita to put some finishing touches on the Los Pinetos trail. We were also joined by 6 LA County Parks department staff.

Originally scheduled for earlier in Spring this year, a few weeks ago LA County’s trail maintenance staff finally were able to work on Los Pinetos trail. As an agency, LA County doesn’t have a volunteer program tailored for doing trailwork. Instead, their staff runs trail dozers and do what appears to be a single-pass scraping of the trail, without paying any attention to drainage, outslope, or other sustainability features that the County’s own trail’s manual calls for.

This has led to much disappointment from the trails community in the County’s approach to maintaining their celebrated trails. Many, including Los Pinetos, are not sustainably aligned, and/or lack the suitable infrastructure to improve their sustainability.

The Santa Clarita Valley Trail Users, a committee of CORBA dedicated to the SCV and surrounding areas, have been busy building and maintaining City of Santa Clarita trails in East Walker Ranch and Golden Valley Ranch. This was their first opportunity to do trailwork with LA County and the USFS. Los Pinetos trail is a County-managed trail, partially on National Forest land, and partially on County-managed State Park land, which required additional coordination between the agencies.

Machine work has deepened the tread to the point where this county-installed culvert is now completely useless, showing the size of the berm created by machines.

The machine-work done on the trail by LA County’s mechanized trail crew left no drainage and a water-trapping berm that would ensure the trail becomes eroded and rutted with the next rains.  In fact, they bladed over existing drainage such as the failed the culvert pictured above. About 20 Volunteers constructed more than 20 drains on the first mile of the trail from the bottom. Meanwhile, a second crew were shuttled to the top of the trail by LA County staff, and cut back overgrown brush on the upper mile or so of trail.

Constructing a rolling-grade dip drain

Constructing a rolling-grade dip drain

While our goal had been to remove the berm and outslope the trail where possible, the depth and extent of the machine work made removing the berm by hand nearly impossible, and certainly not feasible for a one-day volunteer event. Instead we installed drains, rolling grade dips and nicks where feasible, every hundred feet or so. The upper crews brushed more than a mile of trail, where treadwork was not really needed.

LA County Parks Staff remove the fence at the trailhead, opening the trail

LA County Parks Staff remove the fence at the trailhead, opening the trail

By the end of the day, the 30 volunteers and 6 County staff put in four solid hours of trailwork, for approximately 216 volunteer hours.  In 90 degree heat and direct sun. At about noon the County staff pulled the trail closed notice and fencing from the trailhead at Walker Ranch. The trail is now officially open after three years of closure following the Sand Fire.

We thank LA County, the USFS, and the dedicated volunteer crews of the SCVTU for helping advocate for and participate in the restoration of this trail.  Currently our plan is to return to the trail in the fall, to improve the drains created and add a more in time for winter.

There remains one large downed oak tree at the last switchback near the bottom. The County crews will remove the tree this week.

Climbing 3N17 “the beast,” and descending Los Pinetos is now possible. To ride the loop, you’ll have to ride Placerita Canyon road back to the start for now. The Canyon trail is scheduled for reconstruction by LA County crews this fall. Stay tuned for updates.

The trail is popular with hikers, (and will be more popular when the Canyon trail is reopened). We encourage descending cyclists to use bells and common courtesy towards those hiking on or riding up the trail.

 

 

 

Enjoying a post-trailwork lunch

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