Archive for the ‘Angeles National Forest’ Category

Forest Service Closes Trails, Rec Facilities

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

Today, April 3, 2020, the Forest Service  issued a closure order for many popular trails that have seen higher than normal use, and lower than needed social distancing. People longing to escape their homes and recreate have flocked to open spaces since the beginning of the closures related to Covid19. After three weekends of trying to encourage social distancing, the only way to enforce people to maintain social distance is to close trails.

The closure is in effect from April 4, 2020 through April 30, 2020. The full closure order, including maps, is available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd720172.pdf

The Forest Service order closes the following Trailheads:

  • Millard Canyon
  • San Antonio Falls (Baldy Bowl)
  • Icehouse Canyon
  • North Devil’s Backbone.

And the following popular fire roads and trails are closed:

  • Gabrielino Trail
  • Kenyon Devore trail
  • Mt. Wilson Trail
  • RIm Trail
  • Valley Forge  Trail
  • Sam Merrill Trail
  • Sunset Ridge Trail
  • San Gabriel Peak Trail
  • El Prieto Trail
  • Ontario Peak Trail
  • Bear Canyon Loop Trail
  • Devil’s Backbone Trail
  • Telegraph Peak Trail
  • Mount Baldy Trail (Bear Canyon)
  • Bighorn Peak Trail
  • Chapman Trail
  • Timber Mountain Trail
  • Icehouse Canyon Trail
  • Three T’s Trail
  • Baldo Bowl trail (San Antonio Falls)
  • North Devil’s Backbone Trail
  • Joatnga Interpretive Loop Trail
  • Acorn Trail
  • Big Santa Anita Road
  • Mt. Wilson Toll Road
  • Mt. Lowe Road
  • Disappointement RIdge Road
  • Chaney Trail/Millard Canyon Road
  • Brown Mountain Road
  • Millard RIdge Road
  • Arroyo Seco Road
  • Mt. Lukens Road
  • Earl Canyon Motorway
  • Oliver Road
  • Doane Ebey Road
  • Doane Canyon Road
  • May Canyon Road
  • WIlson Canyon Road
  • Potato Mountain Spur
  • Palmer Evey Canyon Road

At this point we should assume all trails and open spaces in and around Los Angeles and Ventura Counties are off limits, even if they are not specifically closed.

This closure is temporary, expiring April 30, and we’ll update as needed.

San Gabriels Protection bill Passes House

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

Last week four bills affecting California passed the House. H.R.3820, the “San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act”, and H.R.1708, the “Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act,” were rolled into a land protection bill with four other bills including H.R. 2250. the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act, and the H.R.2199 Central Coast Heritage Protection Act–both of which have earned the support of local mountain biking organizations. Local mountain bike clubs and IMBA have been key players in the development of these bills. The combined bill, H.R. 2546, Protecting America’s Wilderness Act, passed the House on February 12, with 6 house republicans voting in favor.

San Gabriel Mountains, Foothills and Rivers Protection Act

San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act

San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act Reference Map

Wilderness Expansion

Mountain Bikers descend from Condor Peak

Protest Riders descend from Condor Peak, December 2007

H.R.3820, introduced by Judy Chu (CA-27), expands the boundaries of existing federally-designated wilderness areas within the Angeles National Forest. The bill also creates two new Wilderness areas, the Yerba Buena Wilderness and Condor Peak Wilderness.

Condor peak has long been a target for wilderness protection by environmental groups. It is also one of the last long-distance, high-elevation singletrack trails providing access to a mountain summit that remains open to bikes. It was included in a bill by Barbara Boxer, as a new wilderness area. Jim Hasenauer, then working with IMBA, led a protest ride on the trail showing that it was a high-value trail to mountain bikers on December 1, 2007. It was withdrawn from the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, but has never been forgotten by environmentalists.

CORBA worked locally with The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club and CalWild on the language and boundaries of the current bill for more than two years. Concurrently, IMBA worked at the national level and in Washington DC, to ensure that the proposed Wilderness areas would have no impact to existing trails open to mountain bikes.

Condor Peak trail is a steep, exposed and challenging backcountry trail.

For mountain bikers, Condor Peak trail was not up for negotiation. While we support protecting the character of the area, we wanted to ensure not only that bicycles could continue to access it, but also that mechanized maintenance (using chainsaws or other powered tools) would continue to be allowed. We’ve seen many trails that have been closed to bikes by Wilderness designations slowly deteriorate as volunteer groups cannot keep up with the existing trail maintenance backlog, and the Angeles National Forest has no trail crew of its own.

The solution we reached was to propose two Wilderness Areas on each side of the trail. The resulting legislation passed last week in the House creates the Yerba Buena and Condor Peak Wilderness areas, separated by a 100′ buffer through which the Condor Peak trail passes. Trail Canyon trail, the only other trail within the proposed Wilderness boundary, is cherry-stemmed out of the Wilderness allowing bicycle access to Trail Canyon falls and the nearby campground. A portion of the upper Trail Canyon trail, which has not been passable by bicycle in decades, will fall within the new wilderness boundary.

CORBA chose not to oppose this latest bill as it had no impact to mountain bike access. However, we could not support it fully, as it does nothing to enhance our mission of improving and increasing trail access for mountain bikes. We remain neutral on the bill, but if it passes, we will remain fully engaged in its implementation to further keep the interests of mountain bikers represented. 

There are two amendments being sought by CORBA and IMBA. Due to what appears to be a mapping error, three switchbacks along the Mt. Waterman trail dip a few dozen feet into the Wilderness area.  Though the Forest Service manages it as a non-wilderness trail, an amendment to the bill, by inserting “fifty feet south of the Mt. Waterman Trail” into the legal description of the wilderness area boundary, would correct that. 

Proposed Boundary Adjustment

Proposed Boundary Adjustment

The other amendment we are seeking is more challenging. The eastern Boundary of the Sheep Mountain wilderness passes directly over the summit of Mt San Antonio (AKA Mt. Baldy).  It is the only one of three peaks in Southern California over 10,000′ and above treeline to which bicycles have access (via the Devil’s Backbone trail). Wilderness advocates wanted to expand the Wilderness boundary eastward, entirely enveloping the Bear Creek trail in Wilderness.  The trail follows the Wilderness boundary, lying just inside the boundary by 25 yards. The trail would completes an incredibly challenging, high-elevation, backcountry loop. We are seeking an amendment to move the boundary 75′ west of the trail, removing it from wilderness, and opening the loop to bicycles. The boundary remains unchanged in the current legislation. 

These two amendments would remove approximately 75 acres of existing wilderness in a bill that adds over 31,000 acres of new Wilderness. These will be difficult asks for some, but we feel the ride loop this boundary adjustment would create a truly unique experience that is attainable nowhere else.

National Monument Expansion

The bill also expands the boundary of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, which was declared in October 2014. The boundary expansion makes sense geographically, as one of the biggest challenges in developing the current Monument management plan (as a Forest Management Plan Amendment) was the allocation of district-specific resources.

The Forest Service felt growing pains as they transitioned from three districts to one district and a National Monument (which is managed as a district). The Monument designation left out the most historically significant and most visited section of the Angeles National Forest, which includes the front country trails south and west of Mt. Wilson, and Mt. Lukens, and areas south of Big Tujunga. There was confusion among Forest Service staff when a vehicle, for example, was assigned to the district, but was stationed physically much closer to the Monument. It has taken years, but those challenges have been largely sorted out.

This time around, the bill requires the development of a management plan within three years (the plan amendment for the SGMNM took almost four years to complete). The current Monument designation had no impact to trail access for mountain bikes, and has brought in some additional funding and additional attention to our local mountains. In fact, IMBA and CORBA worked closely with the White House in 2014 to ensure that mountain biking was specifically mentioned in the monument proclamation ensuring its future acceptance. As a result, visitorship has steadily increased since the 2014 designation.

San Gabriel National Recreation Area

The third section of Chu’s bill will create a new National Park Service unit in the San Gabriel Valley. The San Gabriel National Recreation Area would become a new unit of the National Park service. It would comprise land along the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and corridors along the San Gabriel, Rio Hondo, and other rivers and open spaces in the San Gabriel Valley.

The proposed NRA would not change any land ownership, nor restrict any current land owner from managing their land (and their trails) as they are already doing. It allows willing landowners or land managers within the NRA boundary to partner with the NPS to improve recreation, habitat connectivity, water quality, wildlife corridors and public access. It doesn’t change any existing trails, and has the potential to bring additional federal resources to local projects.

With all these aspects of the bill, our biggest concern is that the agencies managing lands the bills protect are not adequately funded at a level necessary to do their job effectively. Creating additional financial obligations by the Forest Service and National Park Service, when current budgets are falling short, will bring its own set of challenges.

H.R.3820 has a companion bill in the Senate, S.1109, introduced by Senator Kamala Harris. We will continue to work towards those amendments in the Senate version of the bill, which will face a tougher challenge under the current administration. If the bills fail this year, we expect them to be reintroduced in future sessions of congress.

A fact sheet from Judy Chu’s office can be found at https://chu.house.gov

Rim of the Valley Corridor Protection Act

H.R.1708 was introduced by Congressman Adam Schiff, after several years where similar legislation failed to make it out of committee. The Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act will expand the boundary of the Santa Monica Mountains National recreation area. The expanded boundary will include the mountains surrounding the Santa Clarita, San Fernando, Simi, La Crescenta and Conejo valleys. These include the Santa Susana Mountains, the Simi Hills, the Verdugo Mountains, and other adjacent lands and river corridors as shown below.

Rim of the Valley Corridor Map

The act does not change the current management of any land or trails within the expanded boundary. What it will do is allow willing landowners or land managers to partner with the NPS on projects that may enhance recreational access, improve habitat and wildlife connectivity, or provide capital improvements. It does not take land away from any existing landowners, nor does it force existing land managers to partner with the National Park service in any way. It has no downsides for mountain biking, and has the potential to improve trail access.

CORBA’s original mission statement and our operational boundary was defined as “the Rim of the Valley Corridor.” This bill is therefore very much at the heart of CORBA’s mission.

The bill was the outcome of a six-year feasibility study, authorized by an act of Congress in 2008. The study began in 2010, with CORBA engaged throughout the six-year process, attending public meetings, providing expert testimony and public comments, and encouraging public discourse and engagement in the process.

The study sought to determine if the area possess nationally significant natural or cultural resources; whether it is it a suitable and unique addition to the National Park System; whether it is feasible to add it to the Park System; and does it require direct NPS management, instead of stewardship from other groups or a public-private combination? The answer to the first three questions was Yes. Since the study concluded in 2016, legislation has been introduced twice without success. Last week the bill passed the House. In December, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources passed the Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act, moving it one step closer to the Senate floor.

We are fortunate in Southern California to have one of the most mountain bike friendly NPS units in the country, the Santa Monica Mountains NRA. Currently all National Park service managed singletrack trails in the Santa Monica Mountains are open to bicycles. In fact, the only trails closed to us are closed by the Boney Mountain State Wilderness, and California State Parks. We expect the NPS to continue supporting a multi-use trail policy in the expanded NRA. In fact, all of the land managers within the expanded boundary, with the exception of the City of Los Angeles, are multi-use friendly.

Lands within the Angeles National Forest are specifically excluded from the expanded NRA. The Forest Service and the National Park Service already have an arrangement in which they are able to share resources for the benefit of our public lands under the Service First authority, which was made permanent in 2012.

For these reasons we are supportive of the expanded boundary of the Santa Monica Mountains NRA in the current legislation. However, to our knowledge there is no additional budget allocated to the expanded NRA, nor to the new San Gabriel NRA in Chu’s bill. For these reasons we have been reluctant to throw our full support behind the bills as they can be considered unfunded (or underfunded) mandates. If these bills pass, we will advocate for increased funding, and will remain engaged with land managers in the development of their management plans, and to identify opportunities for creating or improving multi-use trails and mountain bike access.

The Rim of the Valley trail was originally envisioned by Marge Feinberg in the 1960s as a trail that encircles the San Fernando Valley, connecting communities with their local mountains. The trail itself is being piecemealed together as opportunities present themselves. The vision of a trail led to a broader vision to protect the mountains surrounding our valleys, and ultimately to H.R.1708. It has been a forty-year effort to protect the mountains that define our valleys.

A fact sheet on the bill can be found at https://schiff.house.gov

Happy New Decade! A 20-Teens Retrospective

Wednesday, January 1st, 2020

CORBA has a lot to be proud of this last ten years. It feels like the twenty-teens was the decade in which mountain biking really came of age. The sport has grown and we’ve seen tremendous changes and challenges. Mountain bikers are no longer a newcomer to the trails, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

There’s no denying the explosive growth of mountain biking last decade. We’ve all seen more people on trails, and more of them on bikes than ever before. I’ve met more riders with less than five years experience than in any five-year period before the last. Conversely, we’ve seen relatively few new trails constructed in that time. The trail supply is not keeping up with the demand here in Southern California. The agencies and volunteers can’t keep up with maintenance of the supply we already have. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed in ten years, and has gotten worse with agency budget cuts and increasingly severe weather. It’s why we ask you to come out and give a morning back to the trails once or twice a year. You’ll appreciate them so much more after a morning of trailwork.

Let’s take a long look back at what has changed and been accomplished last decade.

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Station Fire 10 Years Later

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019
Ten years ago today, CORBA’s trail crew set out to do trailwork on Sunset Ridge trail in the Angeles National Forest. When I arrived at the chaney trail gate, it was closed. I rode up to Millard, from where I could see that a fire was burning in the Arroyo Seco Canyon, on the western flank of Mt. Lukens. We cancelled CORBA trailwork for the day, while I rode Sunset Ridge and El Prieto for what would be the last time in several years. The Station Fire burned for 50 days, until it was essentially extinguished by the first rains of the El Nino winter season in October. Over 160,000 acres burned, including most of our favorite trails. 
 
This changed my life, and changed CORBA’s focus. Trails were closed with no indication of how much destruction there would be. Torrential rains over the next few months dealt a blow to the barren, burned earth. CORBA began focussing on rebuilding trails that had been damaged by the Station Fire.
 
Over the course of the next nine years, CORBA switched gears to begin rebuilding trails. Sam Merrill trail was our first volunteer work day a year after the fire. We had 70 volunteers show up, many of whom just wanted to get into the closed Forest and see the destruction first hand.
 
CORBA, working in tandem with other groups, restored: El Prieto, Brown Mountain, Sunset Ridge, Sam Merrill Trail, Rim Trail, Gabrielino Trail (Redbox-Switzers), Silver Moccasin Trail, Colby Canyon Trail, Strawberry Peak trail, Upper Brown Mountain fire road, Ken Burton trail, Mt. Hillyer trail, Doc Larson Trail, Rattlesnake Trail, Fascination Springs Trail, Vetter Mountain Trail, Charlton Connector, Silver Moccasin trail and others. We had tremendous support from the community, with grants from REI and Edison International. More than 10,000 volunteer hours were recorded.
 
A year ago CORBA and MWBA re-opened the last trail still closed because of the Station Fire. The Gabrielino National Recreation Trail. Since then, we have restored the Los Pinetos Trail (closed due to the Sand Fire), and have begun work on Woolsey Fire restoration efforts in the Santa Monica Mountains.
 
In the aftermath of the Station Fire, many in the mountain biking community gave back to get trails reopened for which we are truly appreciative. In that time the sport has grown, there are more people than ever using the trails, and the need for continued volunteerism and efforts to maintain our public lands is growing.
 
Thank you to the mountain biking community and the trails community at large for giving back to our trails over these last ten years. Let’s keep up the momentum as we look forward to maintaining the trails we’ve restored and ensuring we all have places to ride our bicycles and connect with our public lands.

Los Pinetos Trailwork with SCVTU and LA County

Monday, August 12th, 2019

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

Edison Grant for Trail Restoration at Sturtevant Falls

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019
Trail Damage near Sturtevant Falls

Trail Damage near Sturtevant Falls

CORBA is once again honored and grateful to receive a grant from Southern California Edison. The $15,000 grant will cover restoration and resource damage along a section of the Gabrielino Trail near Sturtevant Falls. For the past three years, we’ve worked on reopening the western end of the trail and maintaining much of the rest.

At Sturtevant Falls, one of the most-visited waterfalls in the San Gabriel Mountains, there has been significant resource damage from people scrambling up a steep slope to get to the top of the waterfall. The erosion caused by that off-trail travel has caused a section of the Gabrielino trail to collapse. While not a popular section for mountain bikers, this is one of the most beautiful trails in the Angeles, following the watercourse with views of the waterfall.

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Gabrielino Coverage in Mountain Bike Action

Sunday, December 9th, 2018

The January 2019 print edition of Mountain Bike Action features a four-page article/interview about the Gabrielino project and what it means to mountain bikers and the trail community at large. 

In case you don’t get the print edition, a PDF copy is available here or scans of the article appear below. We really appreciate the coverage and the love from Mountain Bike Action. 

Trail Users Celebrate: The Gabrielino National Recreation Trail is Back!

Friday, August 24th, 2018

Station Fire trail restoration has been a major focus of CORBA’s for the past nine years. On August 26, 2009, CORBA volunteers were headed out for routine volunteer trail maintenance in the Angeles National Forest.  “As I approached our trail work site, I could see a plume of smoke coming from the Arroyo Seco canyon,” said Steve Messer, then a trail work volunteer and now President of CORBA. “We canceled the trail work and watched helplessly as the forest burned for six more weeks.”

Nine years later, almost to the day, mountain biking volunteers have completed restoration of the Gabrielino National Recreation Trail through the Arroyo Seco canyon. This popular section was one of the most heavily damaged by the El Niño rains that flash-flooded the ashen canyon after the Station Fire, taking with it huge sections of the trail and forest. With the extreme damage, this was to be our most ambitious project and the final trail restoration effort from the 2009 Station Fire.

With the area completely closed to the public for more than seven years following the fire, the trail was choked off. Hundreds of burned trees had fallen across the trail and several retaining walls had failed. When people began venturing into the area, in many places there was no trail, so people began using the stream bed.

February 2016 hike-through and assessment

In February 2016, Messer hiked the Arroyo Seco section of the Gabrielino Trail with Forest Service officials and others to do an assessment and begin plans to restore the trail. It was an arduous journey, climbing over and under downed trees and thick brush, scrambling across debris fields where there was once a trail, and precariously shimmying along what used to be the trail tread.

After lengthy environmental reviews, the restoration project began in earnest in late 2017. Six volunteer chainsaw operators worked for two days to get the trail corridor opened enough to begin tread work. Downed trees were a constant challenge, and several sections required extensive additional chainsawing through log-jams. It took dozens of bob trailer-runs to get tools in place. Volunteers faced round-trip rides or hikes of ten to twelve miles to get to and from the work site. Some sections of the trail were restored that had failed long before the Station Fire.

The Mount Wilson Bicycling Association (MWBA) led monthly volunteer work days on the trail from November to July. Several volunteer work days were sponsored by local bike shops including Incycle, Pasadena Cyclery, Golden Saddle Cyclery and Montrose Cyclery. There was so much enthusiasm for the project that a few days there were more volunteers than tools.

Generous grants from REI and Southern California Edison enabled CORBA to hire professional trail builders, Bellfree Contractors, to complete some of the more technical work. By far, the majority of the work was done by 102 dedicated volunteers on 283 volunteer days. The 1,900 volunteer hours equates to over $60,000 in value to the Forest Service.

The final work was completed this week with the trail restored to its original alignment. Trail Closed signs had been in place at either end of the canyon since 2009. The signs were taken down this week.

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Brown Mountain Bench Seating Project

Saturday, July 21st, 2018

Today, Saturday July 21, 2018, Eagle Scout candidate Nick Sercel from Troop 502 in La Canada installed three bench seats at the highly-popular Brown Mountain Saddle. Brown Mountain Saddle (it’s local name) is the high point of the Brown/Prieto loop, or a stopover on the Brown/Ken Burton loop, and is extremely popular stop.

There’s a definite need for something permant and safer to sit on! (April 2018)

In 2015, CORBA volunteers removed a downed tree from the Upper Brown Mountain fire road, not far above the saddle. The 20+ inch diameter tree was cut into 18 inch tall rounds, which we rolled down to the saddle. For the last three years those log rounds have been put to good use as a comfortable place to stop, take the weight off and enjoy the view. Now those log rounds are rotting, yet as recently as last month, people will find a piece that rotten wood to prop up and sit on.

To us, this demonstrated the demand for seating at the saddle, and how popular it would be. Informal polls confirmed the public support. CORBA submitted a proposal to the Forest Service for simple bench seating, which was approved a few weeks ago after a review by Forest Service staff. With the green light from the Forest Service, Nick Sercel contacted CORBA President Steve Messer to offer his services to construct and install the bench seats on CORBA’s behalf.

Nick was no stranger to CORBA. In 2010, CORBA helped coordinate the restoration of the Doc Larsen trail in Lakeview Terrace as a two-weekend eagle scout project with Nick’s older brother Chris Sercel, then a member of the St. Francis Knights high school mountain biking team. In fact, Chris’ project in 2010 was one of the early inspirations for NICA’s Teen Trail Corps program. Nick was there in 201o wielding a McLeod on the Doc Larsen

Hiking in the materials

Hiking in the materials

trail. Chris reciprocated today helping haul wood, and dig holes. CORBA was happy and honored to help facilitate both their Eagle Scout projects (though a little saddened that Doc Larsen trail burned again last year in the Creek Fire and is closed once again).

 

Nick spent a few weeks of prep work, planning, scouting the site and comparing similar bench seating in other Forest Service locations. Last weekend, he held a volunteer work day at his family home, cutting, drilling, and assembling the bench seats. With Forest Sevice-supplied paint, the benches were pre-painted before being installed today.

Sixteen volunteers, Nick’s friends, family and fellow scouts, and CORBA/MWBA volunteers Erik Hillard (MWBA), and Mike and Robin McGuire got the job done today, Saturday, July 21, 2018. We met at Millard, had a safety briefing, then consolidated into a few vehicles and drove up the fire road from Millard as far we could. From there, the scouts hiked in carrying the pre-painted, drilled and cut, pressure-treated lumber for the bench seats, while Steve Messer and Erik hauled all the tools on Bob Trailers (made possible by the Robert Axle Project’s custom bob-trailer compatible through axles). Special recognition is deserved by Nick’s parents, who hauled up a cooler with lunch for everyone!

After an hour trek/ride to the site, we began digging. Three benches required six holes about 3′ deep through hardened, packed dirt.  Minutes after we finished the first bench seat, a crew of locals who have ridden here for more than three decades immediately put the first seat to the test as they rested before their return descent. They were surprised and very appreciative! We expect these benches to see a lot of use. Two are placed to enjoy the view, while the third is placed by the trail sign where it sees afternoon shade.

 

 

Ready to install

 

Checking for height and level

 

Nick Sercel (seated) and crew admire the first bench seat installed brown mountain saddle

Eagle Scout Candidate Nick Sercel (seated) and his crew admire the first bench seat completed

 

All three benches were installed by 1 pm, well ahead of our scheduled finish. A hearty lunch was served, in time for everyone to enjoy lunch while seated on the new benches!

The crew enjoys lunch on the benches they installed!

It was a highly successful day! Despite the 90 degree weather, we completed the project. We thank Nick’s friends and family, Troop 502 from La Canada for their efforts to make these much-needed seating a reality. And of course a special thanks and kudos go to Nick Sercel for orchestrating the project. Dozens of mountain bikers came through the saddle as we were working, and everyone was excited and appreciative of this simple improvement to a popular stopping point for hikers, bikers and equestrians.

Next time you do the Brown/Prieto loop (one of the most popular and accessible MTB rides in the Angeles National Forest), take a break, enjoy the view and the breeze, and give thanks to Nick Sercel, the Boy Scouts, CORBA and MWBA for continuing to support trails and mountain biking!

 

Erik (MWBA Trail Boss), Steve (Corba President) and Eagle Scout Candidate Nick Sercel

 

Two of the three bench seats installed

 

The third bench, shaded in the afternoons, or out of the wind.

More photos can be found at https://photos.corbamtb.com

 

LA Times Reports on Gabrielino Trail Restoration

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

At the last volunteer work day on the Gabrielino Trail, we were delighted to have Louis Sahagun, reporter for the LA Times and a photographer join us. They were there to cover the restoration efforts undertaken by CORBA and MWBA on the Angeles National Forest.

Quoted in the story are Erik Hillard and Matt Baffert of the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, and Steve Messer of CORBA. The article covers efforts by mountain bikers to open the Gabrielino Trail from Redbox to JPL, but doesn’t mention the continuing efforts by the Boy Scouts, the Sierra Club, and the Angeles Crest 100 volunteers who have worked on the trail east of Redbox.

We appreciate the news coverage! Read it on the LA Times web site, or in the March 2nd 2018 print edition.  http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-gabrielino-trail-20180502-story.html.

We also have a PDF version.