Archive for the ‘Trail Building and Restoration’ Category

July 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.

– March 25: All COSCA trails in Thousand Oaks except the Hill Canyon Bridge are now open.

– April 30: The Backbone Trail fromYerba Buena Road west to the Mishe Mokwa trailhead is open

– July 18: The remaining sections of the Backbone Trail are now open, so the entire trail is open. (Note that not all of it is open to mountain biking, as always.)

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.

2018 Angeles National Forest Trail Stewardship Summit Report

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

This past weekend we had an amazing four days at the 2018 Angeles National Forest Trail Stewardship Summit. In the days prior to the summit, we showed some of our trails, our previous trailwork, and our current Gabrielino trail restoration project to Regional forest service staff, and trail construction experts.

The Angeles National Forest was selected as one of fifteen priority sites for trail maintenance under the National Forest Trail Stewardship Act of 2016. As a priority site, the goal is to double the number of trail miles maintained on the Angeles.

We held a series of discussions with Forest Service Region 5 about our trail system and Station Fire recovery efforts. CORBA has received $35,000 in grants from REI and Southern California Edison, for the Gabrielino Trail restoration. CORBA and MWBA’s awesome volunteers have contributed over 2500 hours of volunteer labor at a value of over $56,000.

Some great news has come out of the summit. Using the above contributions as a match, the regional office of the Forest Service has allocated $100,000 to restore and improve the Gabrielino National Recreation Trail. We’re in the process of writing up a formal cost-share partnership agreement with the Forest Service to manage that investment into our local trails.

At the summit, partners, volunteers and Forest Service staff brainstormed on how to remove bottlenecks to getting things done. We discussed how to make it easier for volunteers to do the necessary paperwork by moving to an online system, minimizing shuffling paper and lengthy email chains. We talked about how to get better information on trails and their conditions for the public, as well as how to better coordinate efforts between volunteer groups. Good things are in the works and potential solutions to both of these shortfalls are being explored right now.

CORBA President Steve Messer spoke about the San Gabriel Mountains Community Collaborative (video here), and on how volunteers and NGO’s like  CORBA and MWBA, and the partnerships we have with the Forest Service are a vital component of sustainability of our trails (video here).  Other presentations from LA County, Equestrian trail patroller, Jim Lesh, IMBA Trail Solutions, MWBA, and regional Forest Service Trails Coordinator Garrett Villanueva helped guide the breakout sessions exploring how to achieve some of these goals.

We then spent two days learning about and refining our trail maintenance skills on Sunset Ridge Trail, where volunteers and trail crew leaders learned updated techniques to managing water on trails, minimizing erosion, and decreasing future maintenance needs. We learned from some of the most knowledgeable trailbuilders from IMBA Trail Solutions and the Forest Service. Sunset Ridge trail received some treatments to help improve water control.

It was an extremely positive summit with lots of productive exchange and a path to move forward. We thank the Forest Service and their Regional staff, IMBA Trail Solutions, MWBA, the National Forest Foundation, and all the other volunteers and partners from around the region who participated.

 

Trail Days 2018: We Need Your Help to Restore Sycamore Canyon Trails April 26, 27, 29!

Monday, April 9th, 2018

New this year! The organizers request you register online at their website: https://smmtc.org/machform/view.php?id=11102&element_4_4=California by April 23, please.

Complete info from the organizers: https://www.smmtc.org/maint/traildays.php

For the 37th year running, we have an opportunity to work at rebuilding the trails and then BBQ and camp at Danielson Ranch in Sycamore Canyon. It is opened annually for the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days! This is a unique opportunity to work on the trails that we enjoy so much in Sycamore Canyon, and the event is followed by a BBQ dinner and prizes (see photo), with free camping on Friday and/or Saturday night. This is hands down the best day to get in some trail maintenance work! Camping is optional; you may leave with the escort after the BBQ.

Schedule at a glance

Friday night April 27 – arrive for overnight camping (optional). Bagels and hot beverages supplied Saturday morning for campers.

Saturday April 28 – Trailwork, barbecue dinner, prize give-away. Bring your own lunch. Optional overnight camping. Bagels and hot beverages supplied Sunday morning for campers.

Sunday April 29 – Trailwork, prize give-away. Bring your own lunch.

You can volunteer to help out on Saturday, Sunday, or both.

BRING: LUNCHES, BEVERAGES, SNACKS AND WATER. Tools and instruction on using them are provided.
WEAR: Gloves, hat, long pants, protective clothing, and work boots or sturdy shoes.
REGISTRATION: Advance registration is required for the activities shown below, and appreciated by April 18th!
TRAILWORK: Saturday and/or Sunday. Help with trail restoratin on one or both days!
CAMPING: Free camping Friday and/or Saturday nights for volunteers at the Danielson Multi-use Area located under the sycamores and oaks in the heart of Point Mugu State Park. Bring your own gear.
DINNER: Sat. Night Barbecue Free FOR VOLUNTEERS. Bring appetizers and beverages.
PRIZES: Thank-you prize give-aways will be held Saturday after dinner and Sunday after trailwork.
VEHICLE ACCESS: You will be able to caravan into and out of the park by vehicle only at these few designated times:

ARRIVE

Friday – 5 pm and 7 pm
Saturday – 7:30 am and 4:30 pm
Sunday – 7:30 am

DEPART

Saturday – 4 pm and 9 pm
Sunday – 8 am and 2:30 pm

DIRECTIONS: Take the 101 Freeway to Wendy in Newbury Park; drive south to Potrero Road, turn right; at Reino bear left to NPS service road (first driveway). Cars will be escorted into and out of the park only at designated times shown above. DON’T BE LATE or you won’t be able to drive in.

MAP: http://bit.ly/1jvTBZP