Posts Tagged ‘backbone trail’

Backbone Trail Bridge Repair Fund

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020

With generous support from REI, CORBA has put $10,000 towards the National Park Service recovery efforts to rebuild bridges on the Backbone Trail that were burned in the Woolsey Fire.

In the wake of the Woolsey Fire, three bridges along the Backbone National Recreation trail were destroyed. It was some time before the National Park Service was able to assess the remaining abutments and determine when it would begin to replace the bridges. There have been many higher priority recovery efforts underway.  Knowing people were eager to get back on the trails, the Backbone trail was reopened with temporary stream crossings where the bridges once spanned. These are meant as temporary measures until the bridges are rebuilt and opened.

Steve Messer and Charlotte Parry, of SAMO Fund

Steve Messer and Charlotte Parry, of SAMO Fund

REI allowed CORBA to coordinate our fundraising with the Santa Monica Mountains Fund. The SAMO Fund also received a grant from REI.  REI’s Vote with your Purchase campaign added to that fund to benefit all trail users in recovering the Backbone trail to pre-fire conditions.

Combined, those funds from REI, CORBA and the Santa Monica Mountains Fund are being used to leverage additional revenue streams to meet the bridge replacement costs. The National Park Service is hoping to have the remaining funding in place, and the bridges under construction this year. While the grant was funded last summer, it has taken time for the NPS to get to this stage.

The remaining grant funding has supported volunteer work days, trailwork tool repair and replacement for the benefit of trails. We also thank the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council, and the Conejo Open Space foundation, with whom CORBA volunteers have partnered on a number of projects in the fire-ravaged Santa Monica Mountains and Conejo Valleys over the past year.

We appreciate the ongoing support from REI and thank them for efforts.


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.

Vote for the Backbone Trail

Monday, October 31st, 2016


Our friends at the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council are in the running for a considerable donation towards maintenance of the Backbone Trail. Anheuser-Busch is giving away up to $200,000 for trail maintenance around the country through the Michelob Ultra Go The Extra Mile Fund.

Here’s the catch: the public decides how much of that pie each nominated trail will receive. Twelve trails have been nominated, including the recently completed Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. The funds will be divided between the twelve nominated trails, based on the percentage of votes each trail receives.

Votes must be cast by November 30th, and you must be at least 21 years of age to visit the site and vote.  Every vote makes a difference!

Vote now for the Backbone Trail!



Pt. Mugu SP Closure Update

Monday, January 12th, 2015

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAs reported earlier this month, Point Mugu State Park has been closed to the public while the damage to the trails is being assessed and repaired. Heavy equipment has been working to reestablish Sycamore Canyon and the public is still being asked to stay out of the park until such time as it is safe. Trucks will be bringing in dirt from the slides that covered Pacific Coast Highway to aid in repair. State Parks’ Angeles District Superintendent Craig Sap stated that the closure will extend until February 1, but that all attempts will be made to lift the closure sooner if possible.

Click here to see additional photos by Craig Sap of the mud slides effecting PCH and Point Mugu State Park.

Below is current trail damage assessment of the condition of the trails in Point Mugu State Park:

Blue Canyon Trail: Fair

Chumash Trail: Good

Chamberlain Trail: Excellent

Coastal Trail: Gone

Coyote Trail: Lower portion covered with debris

Fire Line Trail: Unknown

Fossil Trail: Poor condition

Great Dune View Trail: Good

Guadalasca Trail: Fair

Hidden Pond Connector Trail: Good

Hidden Pond Trail: 25% of repairs Complete

La Jolla Canyon Trail: Devastated

La Jolla Valley Loop Trail:  75% of repairs complete

La Jolla Valley Connector Trail: Fair

La Jolla Pond Trail: Cleared

Mugu Peak Loop Trail: Debris across trail needs to be smoothed out

Mugu Peak Spur Trail: Good

Old Boney Trail: Fair from Sycamore to Blue Canyon

Old Cabin Trail: Poor

Ray Miller Trail: 25% of repairs complete

 Sage Trail: Excellent

Scenic Trail: Fair

Serrano Canyon Trail: Good

Serrano Valley Loop Trail: Minor erosion

Serrano Valley Trail: Old Roadbed from gate has several large washouts, all stream crossings need rebuilding

Sin Nombre Trail: Fair

Sycamore Creek Trail: Heavy Damage to Stairs and Gabions                                 

Tri Peaks Trail: Unknown

Two Foxes Trail: Debris flows across the trail at the drainage crossings

Upper Sycamore Trail: Devastated

 Waterfall Trail: Good

Wood Canyon Vista Trail: Good


West End of Etz Meloy Gets Another Gate

Friday, October 31st, 2014

IMG_2132CORBA was alerted to the fact that a private property owner at the west end of Etz Meloy Motorway (a section of the Backbone Trail) at Yerba Buena Road has erected a second, new gate to deter the public from using the route. From the National Park Service:
The 1-mile stretch of Etz Meloy Mtwy. heading east from Yerba Buena Rd. is not open to the public.  The stretch of Etz Meloy Mtwy. across this area is not to be used by trail visitors. By using it, visitors will only aggravate the situation.

CORBA reminds everyone to respect private property and not go over/around the gate as this action is not only illegal, it can also jeopardize negotiations with the landowners and NPS moving toward some kind of easement agreement.

An earlier blog has more details, history and several comments on the gate that prevents access to the Etz Meloy Mtwy from the west end.


State Restoration of Rogers Road Underway

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

As reported in the Topanga Messenger and several other news sources, and announced by CORBA last year, work has been progressing along the Rogers Road section of the Backbone Trail. The trail had become severely eroded, narrow and overgrown, to where concerns for safety and sustainability of the trail had been raised by State Parks.

Rogers Road

Congressman Brad Sherman last week announced that funds had been secured by him for trail improvements along the Backbone Trail. We are seeing the results of that funding, as State Parks have hired additional staff for the project and have been working hard on Rogers Road.

Trail crews have been camping in “spike camps” to save time hiking in and out of work sites. They typically spend 3 – 5 days doing trailwork based out of the camp. The most recent spike camp ended on Tuesday, August 28. CORBA’s Steve Messer joined the crew for the last day of their camp, as they cut back brush along the trail in sweltering heat.

The trail has been extensively brushed, with tread and drainage work being done by machine. Ruts have been flattened and drainage has been restored and improved.  As with any such restoration work, the trail now looks smooth and raw, but longer term prospects are looking good for this section of the Backbone trail.  After some time to pack down and a spring growing season Rogers Road should be back to the flowy singletrack we all love, but without the constant scratching of brush, and threat of ruts and dropoffs hidden from view by overgrown grasses.

State parks trail crew

Crews have completed work from Temescal Ridge fire road to approximately .9 miles above the Chicken Ridge bridge.  Another spike camp is expected late October to continue work on the trail.

We appreciate State Parks efforts, and Congressman Sherman’s recognition of the importance of the Backbone Trail to all trail users.

“Hey CORBA, Stop Ruining Our Trails!”

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

By Mark Langton

Does this trail look "ruined"?

Seems like every time there is maintenance on our local trails, we hear from some very passionate people within the mountain bike community: “Leave the trails the way they are!” Along with this we also get the usual “How can CORBA do this?” A recent comment even alleged that CORBA is trying to take away our freedoms by doing trail work; “CORBA is conspiring with the State to ruin a beautiful single track trail—The Guadalasca.” As I and several others said in recent blog responses, trails are dynamic, they need maintenance every so often. CORBA doesn’t decide what work needs to be done, but agrees that it does and feels that we should participate as advocates of shared open space trails.

Many times people making these comments start off by saying “I have been riding these trails for several years…” If that were true, then they’d know that trails return to a more natural, “challenging” appearance after any kind of trail work. The Sulphur Springs Trail in Cheeseboro Canyon and Solstice Canyon Trail section of the Backbone Trail are two such trails that come to mind. Both were widened and smoothed over, and many people said they’d be “ruined.” Look at them now; they are as challenging and natural—and fun—as ever.

I’ll admit, I am not always in favor of trails becoming less challenging, but at the same time, I have to balance it with the fact that I can ride the trail in the first place. Guadalasca (and other sections of the Backbone Trail) is open to bicycles thanks to the advocacy efforts of CORBA. Some people might say that even if it were closed, they’d ride it. That’s your personal choice, but I’d like to think that as someone who enjoys the open space, you’d like to do it without the cloud of breaking the rules hanging over your head. Just because you can break the rules, it doesn’t mean you should.

Here’s an analogy I came up with while out riding (always good therapy): Let’s say the agency that maintains the street you live on proclaimed that, due to budgetary constraints, they would only be able to do limited maintenance on the street. The street and sewer system falls into disrepair, so you and your neighbors put together a volunteer group to help the agency; you get trained in road and sewer repair, and enlist other neighbors to help. Still, the street becomes riddled with potholes and cracks because the agency just can’t afford the materials and equipment to do the repairs. Soon, off-road vehicle owners start using your street to challenge their vehicles’ capabilities because there’s nowhere else nearby they can do it, which make the street conditions worse. Not to mention these vehicles can go much faster than the passenger cars most of you and your neighbors are driving, making it unsafe for you and your neighbors to even drive down the street. You caution the off-roaders that they shouldn’t drive their vehicles on your street, especially at high speeds, because it is creating an unsafe situation, but they still do because “it’s public and they have a right to drive there. And besides, we’re not going that fast.” Finally, after several years, you and the agency start making repairs, but the off-roaders keep coming and start complaining that you are ruining their fun zone. They come to your volunteer maintenance days and complain you are making the street too smooth and it’s no fun to drive there. They write letters to you saying you are trying to take away their freedoms. All because you are trying to do the right thing for your community.

Here’s an idea: The next time you think someone is trying to take something away from you in your local riding area, ask yourself, “what can I do to help improve the situation?” That could mean getting more involved with your local community. Or it could mean going someplace where the trails are more challenging, where riding them at higher speeds does not impact the rest of the trail user community. Such places exist, whether it be a race or a bike park like Mammoth Mountain. Our local trails are for shared use by many different types of users, so you’re just going to have to adjust your riding style accordingly. Kind of like on the street when driving your car or motorcycle; you may have a high-performance vehicle, but to drive it to its capabilities on public streets just wouldn’t smart or safe. Just because you can break the rules, it doesn’t mean you should.


Topanga State Park General Plan Meeting #3

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

California State Parks is holding its third public meeting to determine the new general plan for Topanga State Park on June 14 at Temescal Gateway Park in Pacific Palisades. Mountain bikers who use Topanga State Park and surrounding trails in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation area are strongly encouraged to attend the meeting and comment on the plan. For details click here Scan 4.

CORBA Meets With State Parks Superintendents

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

On November 22 CORBA Board of Directors members Mark Langton, Hans Keifer, Danusia Bennett-Taber, and Steve Messer, along with IMBA representative Jim Hasenauer, met with Topanga Sector Superintendent Lynette Brody and Acting Angeles District Superintendent Craig Sap. The specific purpose of the meeting was to update Superintendent Sap on CORBA’s programs as well as to review the trail conversion request made by CORBA more than two years ago as part of a state-wide process.

Several key points were brought up during this meeting:

-CORBA programs (trail work and maintenance, Youth Adventures and CORBA Kids Club, Skills Classes) and their positive value and impact on the trail user community.

-Mountain bikers, despite representing a large percentage of overall trail users, have the fewest miles of singletrack trails available. Mountain bikers, based on numbers and skill levels, deserve a diversity of experiences (beginner, intermediate, advanced) the same way that hikers have access to a wide variety of trails, as well as equity of experience that our numbers justify. We also stressed connectivity as there are many missing links and places where bicyclists are cut off from important destinations.

-Trails currently closed that should be designated as shared use: Backbone Trail segments of Musch, Topanga to Malibu Creek, Ray Miller, Paramount to Malibu Creek (Lookout or Yearling, Topanga SP to Temescal Gateway Park, Temescal to Rogers State Historic Park; other trails currently closed to mountain biking including Rustic Canyon from Mulholland and from Rogers Road, Los Liones, Bent Arrow, and Garapito trails in Topanga SP, Nicholas Flats Trail in Leo Carillo SP, Hidden Pond and Coyote trails in Point Mugu SP.

-We were frustrated at recent actions that seemingly ignored our concerns while almost concurrently created diminished opportunities and conditions for not only mountain bikers, but all trail users.

-Current status of the trail conversion process in the Angeles District.

While this meeting was in some respects a new beginning with State Parks leadership, Superintendents Brody and Sap were both very familiar with CORBA in general, and there was certainly an air of cooperation that we have not experienced in several years. Said Superintendent Sap in a follow-up email response, “I feel yesterday’s meeting was very productive. I came away with a greater appreciation of CORBA and feel encouraged that we can move forward with a renewed atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding.” CORBA’s feeling is that there is an improved sense of commitment and enthusiasm from State Parks management, and that they comprehended our points about equity, diversity, and increased opportunities. In particular, we were assured that direction by trails experts at the State level will be weighted heavily in the conversion process, and that the public will have opportunities to submit input. We were also told that management recognized that recent actions that effected trail conditions and access were not handled appropriately in respect to informing the public, and that greater efforts would be made to fully educate the trail user community of impending actions moving forward.

The current status of the conversion process is ongoing, with trails in Topanga State Park taking priority as part of the current development of a trail plan in that park. On December 15 the use status of Musch, Lookout, Yearling, and Deerleg Trails will be discussed by State Park personnel and an announcement will follow shortly.

Rogers Road Trail Update

Monday, November 15th, 2010

On November 10, CORBA Board members Mark Langton, Jeff Klinger, Hans Keifer, Danusia Bennet-Taber, and Steve Messer, along with Jim Hasenauer of IMBA and Bryan Gordon of the Canyonback Alliance, walked/rode the upper section of Rogers Road Trail with Topanga Sector Superintendent Lynette Brody and Maintenance Supervisor Dale Skinner.  This tour was arranged by CORBA with these State Park employees in response to intense public input regarding recent work performed on the “re-route” (singletrack) section of trail (west where it meets Temescal Ridge Fire Road) as well as about a mile and a half of the wider road bed to the east of the singletrack. In the past few weeks, Supervisor Skinner has used a Sweco trail tractor/dozer to fix and install several drainage channels, as well as bring the trail up to vegetation clearance guidelines for multiple use, specifically, equestrians. Many local trail users have complained to State Parks that the work was overdone and that a once narrow, serene singletrack trail has been obliterated into a road.

There are actually two separate sections, the “re-route” which was built as a true narrow trail, and the main Rogers Road Trail, which was originally a road cut that supported wide and heavy equipment.

Earlier comments on CORBA’s web site began by trying to assuage concerns of trail users not familiar with this kind of work by saying that typically trails “come back” to a more natural state after a couple of seasons. This can be said for the “re-route” section, although CORBA noted to Supervisor Skinner that the widening created a “faster trail” and suggested that possible speed control devices such as pinch-point structures be considered.

As for the wider section, based on the tour that took place on November 10, CORBA’s original comments were premature. After witnessing the complete section of the work area and hearing comments made by Supervisor Skinner, as well as an evaluation by professional trail contractor Hans Keifer, it is evident that the work that was performed lacked forethought and consideration for minimal impact. In fact, no Project Evaluation Form (PEF) was submitted for this work and therefore is in direct violation of the department’s own policy. We were assured by both Superintendent Brody and Supervisor Skinner that the work will not continue until a Project Evaluation Form is completed and that trail users will have a say in the process, which they said could take several months to over a year.

It’s true that after new construction or trail maintenance, trails look bare and lose their natural character.  Typically, Spring rains create new vegetation which helps the trails recover some of their more natural character.   This has been our experience on several agency trail maintenance projects in the past.  In the case of the recent work on the wider section of Rogers Road Trail there was a fundamental disagreement between the State’s position that Rogers should be maintained to “road” standards and that vegetation should be cut wider than the 8-foot wide/10-foot high vegetation clearance suggested by multiple use guidelines–and CORBA’s position that Rogers is a trail (the Backbone Trail), not a road; that the 8-foot/10-foot clearance was for new trail construction, not existing trails, and that the trail should be left as narrow and natural as possible while addressing and achieving the maintenance concerns of water drainage and a proper vegetation width for shared use with equestrians.

We acknowledged that this is a multi-use trail that must work for all users and that there are several drainage and maintenance issues that are beyond the scope of handwork.  We demonstrated how anything more than an 8-foot clearance wasn’t necessary for safety or sustainability and that in many cases the clearance that has been done was far wider than eight feet.  CORBA’s position is that this work went too far and urged State Parks to minimize the impact of the maintenance on the only bike-legal singletrack in Topanga State Park.

We were informed that the plan was to continue the work down to the Will Rogers State Historic Park Trail Loop, and we also expressed serious concern about continuing these impacts into what is admittedly an eroded and deteriorating section of trail. Superintendent Brody and Supervisor Skinner reiterated that moving forward, greater evaluation and a full PEF would take place and could take several months to over a year.

Examination of the new/refurbished drains that were installed shows minimal attention to corrected out sloping to facilitate proper drainage; drains were basically cut with only a few passes with the Sweco’s blade and very little additional shaping or contouring was evident. On another section of trail, an entire corner (approximately 250-300 square feet) was scraped clean of vegetation, with the reason for the denudation being “ it’s for the hikers. Hikers like the beautiful views.” This brush clearance ignores the fact that it created a large, bare, disturbed area of unprotected, easily eroded earth that will exacerbate hydro erosion because there is no root system to control runoff. Also, there was no drain installed at the bottom of the hill where water would run to from this bare area. Another section of trail further south was smoothed of ruts and out sloped correctly. However, the width of the tread was increased to approximately 12 feet, far more than what CORBA considers appropriate or necessary.

Maintenance Supervisor Dale Skinner (left foreground) and members of CORBA discuss the complete removal of vegetation from dozens of square yards of soil at an "overlook" section of Rogers Road Trail. Photo by Jim Hasenauer

Again, we were assured by both Superintendent Brody and Supervisor Skinner that the work will not continue until a Project Evaluation Form is completed and that trail users will have a say in the process. Check back here for further information as we get it. There will be several opportunities to get involved as trail planning in Topanga State Park and the rest of the Santa Monica’s moves forward. We encourage you to get involved with your parks’ planning process and be proactive in shaping park policy, planning and landscapes.