Archive for the ‘Trail Building and Restoration’ Category

Report on the March 16th COSCA Spring Trailwork Day in Hawk Canyon

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

Forty-five to 50 volunteers turned out to help restore several hundred yards of the Hawk Canyon Trail in the Conejo Canyons/Western Plateau open space areas on Saturday March 16th for the annual COSCA Spring Trail Work Day. The area had been burned by the Hill Fire in November, then inundated by heavy winter rains. We worked on the north-eastern half, the newest section that was built in 2017 during the Spring Trail Work Day.

The primary focus of the work was to move the trail slightly uphill, further from the flood plane where it had been buried by mudflows. Because of all the rain, the soil was quite soft and quite easy to dig out and pack down. This made the work easier than normal, but still there was a lot of dirt to move where the cross-slope was quite steep, and there was one section of about 20 feet that was covered by large rocks that had to be moved.

About a quarter of the volunteers worked a little further up the trail, clearing the heavy grass, mustard, thistle and other weeds that were choking off the trail.

Everyone did such a great job that we got finished and back to the staging area for lunch before the expected time of noon.

The event was a cooperative effort of the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA), the Conejo Open Space Action Committee (COSTAC), the Conejo Open Space Foundation (COSF – provided the thank-you lunch and snacks), the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council trail crew, the Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association (CORBA) trail crew, and dozens of other volunteers. Thanks everyone for helping make the trails safer and more enjoyable for everyone!

View more photos of the work day in our Spring Trail Work Day photo gallery.

Vote with your REI Purchases to support the Backbone Trail

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

This month, our friends at the SAMO Fund, a non-profit partner of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, are in a competition for funding through REI called “Loving Our Local Outdoors”. Between March 7th and April 8th, 2019, customers who make a purchase at one of eight local REI stores will receive a voting token and can vote for their favorite organization/project. The Santa Monica Mountains Fund is up against Friends of the LA River and Friends of Joshua Tree. While we are competing for the funding, supporters can rest assured that this is not a winner-loser situation; all organizations will receive funding in proportion to the number of votes received by each.

November 2018’s Woolsey Fire decimated 88% of National Park land in the Santa Monica Mountains, proving to be the most devastating park fire in the area since the Green Meadows Fire in 1993. The popular Backbone Trail that travels through the mountains has suffered extreme damage that creates safety issues for visitors. A few sections favored by mountain bikers remain closed due to fire-destroyed bridges, excessive erosion and large slides from torrential rains on the burned hillsides.

However, the biggest challenge to reopening the closed sections of the Backbone trail is the replacement of burned bridges. Without those bridges, the section of the Backbone Trail will remain closed to the public. With funding from this REI grant initiative, the SAMO Fund will be able to support and supply the needed materials for this project and help get this trail fully reopened to the public.

CORBA is committed to restoring the closed sections of trail, and will be applying for additional grant funding in support of the effort to re-establish and reopen the Backbone trail. This is an opportunity to help raise additional funds needed. Bridge replacement costs could run into the six-figure arena.

To vote for the Backbone Trail restoration project, visit one of the participating REI stores listed below*. With every purchase you make, you’ll receive a voting token that you can place into the SAMO Fund bucket. The more tokens they accumulate by April 8th, the more funding they will receive, and the sooner we can get those trail sections back in service.

 

* REI online customers will not have the opportunity to vote, unless you use free delivery to a participating REI store for pickup.

March 2nd 2019 Trail Fire Closures Update for the Santa Monica Mountains

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

This article has been updated since it was originally posted on January 4th:

– January 12: The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) opened most of their open space areas

– March 2: The Backbone Trail between Kanan Road west to Yerba Buena Road has been opened.

South of the 101 Freeway, the Woolsey Fire completely decimated most of the open space between Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Road on the east and Point Mugu State Park (Sycamore Canyon) on the west. North of the 101, most of the open space south of Simi Valley and between Valley Circle on the east and Erbes Road to the west was destroyed.

With the recent rains, the regeneration process has begun and new growth can be seen on the burned hillsides.

Nevertheless, many of the trails are still closed until they are assessed for damage, and repaired as necessary. In addition, heavy rains my result in mudslides that may damage sections of the trail that survived the fire.

The good news is that many of the trails are now open to use. The bad news is that during the Federal Government partial shutdown, the National Park Service is not able to work on their trails, prolonging the time that they will be closed.

The following list is not exhaustive – there are many smaller trails not listed that may be open or closed. If you see that a trail is marked as closed or cordoned off, please stay off it.

Areas that are open

Areas that are still closed

For your own safety and to protect the plants and creatures that live in the open space, please stay off closed trails completely, and where the trails are open to use, please stay on the trails! Also, watch for new hazards on the trails such as large ruts, debris slides, washouts and fallen trees.

Trail Restoration in Malibu Creek State Park April 20th and Lunch

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

Crags Road, also known as “The Rock Garden” or “The Creek of Doom,” suffered major blows this winter, first by the Woolsey Fire that decimated the hillsides, then rainstorms that tore the trail up pretty badly and covered parts with rock slides. We worked on this section not far from the M*A*S*H site in November 2017 and now we’re going back to fix it again.

Restoring Crags Road through the “Creek of Doom” in Nov 2017.

This is a combined project between California State Parks, the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council, CORBA and Girlz Gone Riding.

All tools will be provided, as well as instructions on how to use them safely and effectively, by experienced trail crew leaders. No experience needed – everyone works at a rate they’re comfortable with and takes lots of breaks. Bring a snack to eat on the trail; CORBA will provide lunch after the event for those who register online in advance to help us with planning (see below for the link to online registration).

Wear sturdy hiking boots with good lugs, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sunglasses, sunblock and a hat, and bring water, snacks. Bring work gloves if you have them. We have a few pairs we can loan to people without.

Please help us plan for the event by signing up online at https://www.meetup.com/CORBAmtb/events/259311989/ and also qualify for a lunch on CORBA. Thanks!

COSCA March Trailwork Day March 16th

Monday, February 25th, 2019

The Conejo Canyons and Western Plateau in Thousand Oaks have taken a real beating this winter, first by the Hill Fire that denuded the terrain, and then the heavy rain that resulted in ruts and washouts. We’re going to get out there to restore these trails to their original glory!

We use the Conejo Open Space trails regularly, so this is our chance to give back to the community while expanding our trail opportunities!

At noon, following the morning of trail-building, workers will be treated to a thank-you lunch while enjoying the camaraderie of fellow trail enthusiasts!

Wear protective clothing (long-legged pants, long-sleeved shirts, sunglasses), sturdy shoes, gloves, hat and sunscreen.

No experience necessary. Tools and instructions on how to use them safely and effectively will be provided. Must be 18+ years of age. As always when in the open spaces, be aware of poison oak, ticks & rattlesnakes. Everyone works at their own comfort level.

Follow instructions of park rangers and trail crew leaders at all times.

Directions: From the 101 Freeway in Newbury Park, exit at Rancho Conejo Blvd heading north. Drive 1.8 miles, almost to the end, then turn left onto Conejo Center Drive. Continue 0.3 miles then park in the dirt lot on the right or at the side of the road.

Map: Use this Google map to help you find your way http://bit.ly/UchB4u

Help us prepare for the number of volunteers who will be participating by registering on our Meetup event.

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

 

Report on the COSCA Spring Trailwork Day, June 16, 2018

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

Last month, we started building a new trail that would lead 1.3 miles from Westlake Village Community Park and YMCA up to the Saddle Pass Trail on the ridge above it. This past Saturday we had a larger work day and hoped to finish the trail, but rough terrain made for slow progress, and with only about 70 volunteers, half of what was hoped for, we didn’t make it to the top. But we did compete 0.4 miles of trail, doubling its length. There is a half mile left to connect to the Saddle Pass Trail.

The new trail work areas had a very steep cross-slope. That meant that we had to dig out a lot of dirt to create a trail with the standard 4′-wide tread. On top of that, the dirt was mixed with lots of rocks that made the digging difficult. But the volunteers persevered and we ended up with some sweet new trail!

Lunch was catered by Billy D’s BBQ in Newbury Park. There was lots for everybody!

Thanks to all the volunteers who came out! To see more photos, visit our photo gallery of the Spring trail work day.

Report on Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days, April 27-29, 2018

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

Two trails in Point Mugu State Park (Sycamore Canyon) had significant improvements made to them despite the light turnout this year for the annual SMM Trail Days. For Saturday, the major work day, only about 130 people had preregistered online, so we expected about 100 to show up.

Cutting back the grass to make room for a drainage dip on the Sin Nombre Trail.

Most of the volunteers headed to the Hidden Pond Trail to deal with seriously overgrowing brush and some bad ruts. Meanwhile, five mountain bikers who had signed up via CORBA headed to the Sin Nombre Trail to address the serious rutting. We have worked on this trail in the past, most recently in 2016. Most of the tread is holding up pretty well, but several sections have developed severe ruts where the trail goes straight down the hill (a ‘fall-line’ trail). The ruts develop because there is no place for rainwater to drain off other than following the trail straight down the hill. Short of rerouting the trail so it is doesn’t follow the fall-line, there is no way to repair these serious ruts. As a result, the trail has become very broad as users avoid the rut and create a new path next to the rut. This has happened more than once. All we can hope to do is to avoid the rut enlarging with the next rain, and to prevent another rut from forming in the middle of the new path. We do this by cutting a drainage dip in the trail at the top of the fall-line section to divert the water off the trail before it can erode (or enlarge) a rut.

So on Saturday, the five of us from CORBA, including president Steve Messer, built eight drainages along the entire 1.1 miles length of the Sin Nombre Trail. Digging these were hard work for three reasons. First, the drains had to be quite long to move the water away from the fall-line trail. Second, we had to remove a lot of very thick and robustly rooted grass to build the drain. Finally, the dirt of the trail was almost concrete-hard so was hard to dig through. But we put in a huge effort and even got back to camp a little early so we could beat the crowd to the showers!

On the Hidden Pond Trail on Sunday.

As always, the crowd on Sunday was only about a quarter of Saturday. We all headed off to Hidden Pond Trail (closed to bikes) to complete the work that had been started on Saturday. That involved cutting back grass and brush with a powered hedge trimmer, raking up the cuttings and disposing them of the out of view of the trail, cutting larger brush with loppers, removing a few yucca plants, digging a few drains and filling in some ruts. Most of the trail had been worked on Saturday, so the 20-25 volunteers were able to finish off the trail on Sunday by noon.

Back at the camp, we had lunch made from leftovers from Saturday’s barbecue dinner, followed by another prize give-away. Finally, we packed up, cleaned up the camp and headed back home, happy to have made so much improvement to the trails in just two days!

You can see more photos of the work in our photo gallery of the 2018 event.

 

Summary of Backbone Trail Restoration Done April 14, 2018

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Using a weed whacker to cut back the grass

Twelve CORBA and Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council volunteers turned out to help restore the Backbone Trail on the west side of Latigo Canyon Trail this past Saturday. With this relatively small turnout, we weren’t able to do much to repair the substantial ruts, so we focused on cutting back the brush. Power hedge trimmers and a weed whacker allowed us to accomplish much more than if we had been using only hand tools. Overall we cut back brush over 0.44 miles, and trimmed grass over an even greater distance! The work went so quickly that we were able to repair two drains that were completely filled in. We hope to schedule another event there in the fall when we can focus on fixing the ruts and building drains to prevent them from forming again.

Cleaning up the trimmings.