Posts Tagged ‘Canyon Trail’

Canyon Trail Sand Fire Trailwork

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Last Saturday, September 10, about 30 mountain bikers joined 50 or so HandsOn Santa Clarita volunteers to help with Sand Fire cleanup at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center.

The HandsOn crew focused on the west end of the trail and the parkland surrounding the Nature Center.  Meanwhile the SCV Trail Users headed up to the more heavily burned area at Walker Ranch campground.

We split up and built eight debris check dams in drainages that lead into the streambed of Placerita Creek. After a fire, soil and ash denuded of vegetation, can become major debris flows with a relatively small amount of rain. These debris flows do more damage to trails than anything else. We saw it in many areas of the Station Fire. I did an interview for Mountain Bike Action magazine, discussing the impacts of fire to trails.

The eight debris check dams will help capture sediment and slow down flows before they cross the trail and enter the canyon. They were constructed of native rock and sand bags filled from the dry streambed, upstream of the check dams.

Thanks to all the volunteers who came out to help, LA County for allowing us to help protect the trail we lobbied for access to, and to the SCV Trail Users for coordinating the effort.

We’re fulfilling our promise of being both responsible trail users, and stewards of our trails and public lands.


County to Open Canyon Trail to Bicycles

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
Canyon Trail

Canyon Trail

Thanks to the efforts of local mountain biking advocates from the Santa Clarita Valley, the County today announced that the Canyon trail will be opened to bicycles.  The report identified trail improvements and modifications needed to ensure that bicycles can be added to the existing users safely, and these modifications will take place over the next five months. The County is seeking authorization to apply for habitat restoration grants to install bridges along the Canyon trail.

The canyon trail is an easy trail, suitable for beginners, kids and family mountain bikers. It is also part of the longer and much-loved Los Pinetos loop. While the department is going to uphold the recommendation to open bikes, the decision could be challenged by other user groups. However, the State’s “Change in Use” trail assessment, which the County used to assess the trail, is designed from the ground up to be objective and defensible. Still, we need to thank the County and the people involved in the process, and keep an open dialog with them going forward.

We extend our congratulations and sincerest thanks to The Santa Clarita Valley Trail Users group who were able to harness, contain and focus the community’s initial reaction to the trail being closed to bikes almost two years ago.  Throughout the process they stuck to the “high road” as CORBA always recommends. Our collective patience and diligence through the process has paid off.  The trail is expected to open in spring 2013.

The Heritage trail in Vasquez Rocks is a different story. The County has identified many problems with innumerable “volunteer” trails in the area and a need for significant restoration, repair and trail improvements. The recommendation to keep the Heritage trail closed to bikes was upheld. In the future, when this park is re-assessed and new trails are considered, we will make sure to have a voice at the table.

From the LA County Parks web site:


Following two community meetings and the review of all comments, the County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation announced today that it will uphold the Trail Assessment recommendations for the Placerita Canyon Trail and Vasquez Rocks Heritage Trail. The recommendation is to not allow mountain bikes on the Heritage Trail at Vasquez Rocks Natural Area in Agua Dulce and to allow mountain bikes on the CanyonTrail at Placerita Canyon Natural Area in Newhall.

The recommendation to not allow mountain bikes on the Heritage Trail is based on the presence of significant cultural resources which could be negatively impacted by additional trail use; a lack of trails or connections to other trails outside the natural area where mountain biking is allowed; existing trail conditions which have been significantly compromised by many user created trails and the significant revegetation necessary to clarify the trail alignment.

The recommendation to allow mountain bikes on the Canyon Trail is contingent on the addition of pinch points, signage, erosion control measures and other trail maintenance items.

Trail maintenance for both trails will start within the next few weeks and following the completion of maintenance on the Canyon Trail, which is estimated to be completed in March 2013, mountain bikes will be allowed on the trail. The Department will address the safety concerns as identified in the Trail Assessment Report to ensure that the Placerita Canyon Trail is a safe trail for all users.

“We greatly appreciate the feedback we received from the community during and after the two community meetings,” said Russ Guiney, Director of the County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation. “We received 784 comments and took each comment into consideration. Trail use is a passionate issue for hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers. We are hopeful that working together the user groups will enjoy the recreational benefit of the trails while allowing trail and resource sustainability for years to come.”

The Trail Assessment process was completed by an independent consultant, The Planning Center|DC&E, who has extensive trail operations and sustainability experience. The consultant conducted two community meetings and solicited comments from the public as a part of the assessment process and made the Trail Assessment recommendations. The process used by the consultant and the Department is similar to one developed by California State Parks, but was modified to reflect the County’s Trails Manual guidelines and classifications. The purpose of the assessment process was to evaluate the condition of the trail and the trail’s sustainability as it pertains to existing and/or proposed use(s).

Send your comments: Open the Canyon Trail, Reconsider the Heritage Trail

Monday, July 16th, 2012

On June 26, Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation released the draft reports on the Canyon Trail in Placerita Canyon Natural Area and the Heritage Trail in Vasquez Rocks Natural Area.  Those reports were the result of petitions signed by hundreds of people who wanted to see these trails opened to bicycles. The Canyon Trail was especially important, as it provides extensive connectivity to other trails in that are open to bicycles, and cyclists had been using the trail for four years without incident, because of an incorrectly placed multi-use sign.

At the first meeting held by the County, over 90% of the 90 or so attendees were mountain bikers. It was clear that this was an important issue, and the newly formed SCV Trail Users rallied local support. On July 12, 2012 the second meeting took place. This time about 200 were in attendance, with a little under half being mountain bikers.

The draft reports recommended that the Canyon Trail be opened to bicycles, after modifications to improve safety. These modifications include the installation of pinch points, additional signage, a posted speed limit, and the application of a “walk zone” close to the nature center, where docent-led interpretive nature hikes are often held.

Only one official County trail exists among all these at Vasquez Rocks

Only one official County trail exists among all these at Vasquez Rocks

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area has two named trails, the Pacific Crest Trail (closed to bikes), and the Heritage trail, a half-mile trail connecting the two parking lots in the park. What we learned at the public meeting last Thursday was that the Heritage trail is the only County trail within the park. The extensive network of trails are all unofficial “social” trails, and as such, could not be considered for opening to bikes. Primarily because the Heritage trail does not connect to any other official trail, and there is a dirt road alternative, the recommendation was to keep the trail closed to bikes.

CORBA has put together our comments on the two proposals, available after the page break. We encourage everyone to send a quick email to, stating:

Thanks to the County for considering opening the Canyon and Heritage trails to bicycles. We fully support the opening of Canyon Trail to bicycles. We’d like to see the recommended safety modifications prioritized and installed as soon as possible, so that bicycles can return to the Canyon trail. Opening of the Canyon trail to bicycles should not be made contingent upon the completion of the other recommended improvements to the trail.

We’d also like to see the Heritage trail re-considered for bicycle access, taking into account the potential for future routes as the numerous social trails are either rehabilitated or brought up to County multi-use standards and made official trails.

Comments are only being accepted until July 19, so don’t wait. The final decision will be made by the County Board of Supervisors. The more emails and letters of support they receive, the better our chances of having the County move forward on the recommendations and open the Canyon trail to bicycles.




Canyon Trail and Vasquez Rocks – Meeting Thursday July 12

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

The County’s objective assessments of the Canyon Trail in Placerita Canyon Natural Area, and the Heritage trail in Vasquez Rocks, have been completed.  By applying the State’s Change In Use survey, objective data was gathered about these two trails.

The study concluded that Canyon Trail can be made suitable for multi-use designation including bicycles. It will require some modifications including pinch points, signage, and a designated walk-your-bike section. The trail, irregardless its potential for a multi-use designation, was found to be needing additional trailwork and restoration in several areas. We hope that the modifications needed to allow bicycles can be given priority over other needed trailwork.

Heritage trail, on the other hand, was found to be unsuitable for multi-use designation. The primary reasoning behind this finding is a lack of connectivity to other trails that allow bicycles, and the availability of an alternate route. Extensive impacts were noted from existing users (hikers and equestrians) that would require significant restoration.

While these findings might make sense if Heritage trail were the only candidate for opening to bicycles, there are many miles of trails in Vasquez Rocks. Mountain Bikers from the Santa Clarita Valley did not specifically ask for the Heritage trail to be considered for multi-use, they asked for the Vasquez Rocks Natural Area to be considered for multi-use including all its trails.

In fact, CORBA would like to know what objective data the County’s “no bicycles in Natural Areas” was based. By what process was this policy formulated?

CORBA supports the County’s assessment of the Canyon trail and the recommendation to open it to bikes. We do feel, however, that the assessment of Vasquez Rocks is incomplete as only one trail has been assessed. The fact that the only trail assessed in Vasquez Rocks has seen such significant impacts from existing users, underscores the point that all users have impacts, and bicycles in that respect are very similar to other trail users. We urge the County to complete the assessment of Vasquez Rocks’ trails and to consider future potential connectivity of all trails as a whole.

We also feel that the inclusion of State draft studies should not be cited as evidence until they are fully vetted and published, and the classification of bicycling as an incompatible “active recreation” is inaccurate.

The County will be hosting a public meeting on Thursday, July 12 to formally present the findings and take public comments. There is expected to be a large and organized opposition from other user groups present at tomorrow’s meeting, unlike the first meeting in which mountain bikers made up the vast majority of the attendees. The SCV Trail Users group did a great job of gathering and organizing local mountain bikers during the first meeting, and have continued to provide leadership on these issues, with the full support of CORBA and IMBA.

Please attend this meeting and let your voice be heard:


6pm, Thursday, July 12, 2012. 

William S. Hart Park – Hart Hall  (map)

24151 Newhall Ave, Newhall, CA 91321, USA

Consider RSVP’ing to the SCV Trail Users Facebook event:

Placerita Canyon, Vasquez Rocks Trails Public Meeting Announced for July 12

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

LA County Public MeetingThe County of Los Angeles has completed their assessment of trails in Placerita Canyon Natural Area, and Vasquez Rocks.  They have scheduled a meeting to discuss their findings and draft report for:


July 12, 2012, 6 p.m. 

William S. Hart Park – Hart Hall

24151 N. Newhall Avenue, Newhall, Ca 91321

The Canyon Trail was closed to mountain bikes, after having been posted open for several years, in 2011. Mountain bikers came out en masse at the initial public meeting, and we hope for a similar turnout at this next meeting. Los Angeles County has applied the State Parks Change-in-use Assessment tool to evaluate the trails, and will make recommendations based on their objective findings. The State has been actively developing and testing the tool over the past two years. It’s initial test in Southern California was on the Tapia Spur trail. In that case it was found that with some modifications, the trail could be made safe and sustainable for all users, including mountain bikes. Tapia Spur is currently in the process of being upgraded with those recommended modifications. We would hope for a similar outcome in the County’s application of the tool.

The draft report itself will be released on June 28, twelve days before the public meeting.  We will post a notice and a quick review of the report once it is made publicly available.




LA County Trail Assessment Public Meeting

Thursday, February 16th, 2012
A packed room hears the County and DC&E's presentation

A packed room hears the County and DC&E's presentation

On February 15, 2012, more than 80 people gathered at Hart Park Hall in Santa Clarita Valley to hear and weigh in on the County’s plans. Of those 80 or more people, more than 70 identified themselves as mountain bikers. The SCV Trail Users did an outstanding outreach effort to get people to come to the meeting. Many brought helmets, identifying themselves as off-road cyclists. The closure of the Canyon trail in Placerita Nature Center to bicycles has united the cycling community in the area.

The meeting was being conducted by DCE Planning, the contractor retained by the County to perform the trail assessment and make a recommendation.  After a brief round of introductions by Melissa Erikson, Sarah Sutton gave background on DC&E’s experience related to trails and planning and the trails assessment process they will be using. Stephen Copely is the non-motorized trails manager for the fifth district, and will be the contact person for the County as the process moves forward, though he did not speak during the meeting.

Melissa then gave some background of the DOJ ruling from March 2011 regarding accessibility and ADA compliance, which is her specialty. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about this DOJ  ruling. Trail and open space managers must allow personal mobility devices–which in the broadest interpretation could mean anything from quads to motorcycles to segways to wheelchairs–on any trail that pedestrians/hikers are allowed, unless they can show a “good reason” they shouldn’t be allowed. In order to show a good reason, an objective assessment of the trail is needed.  Essentially the assessment will kill two birds with one stone: determining the feasibility of personal mobility devices for the disabled and permitted uses on a trail.


Canyon Trail Closure in Placerita Canyon Nature Center

Monday, August 29th, 2011

The Canyon trail winds its way for 1.85 miles along Placerita Creek between Walker Ranch and the Placerita Canyon Nature Center. It makes a great loop with the Santa Clara Truck Trail and Los Pinetos. For many years cyclists have been riding this great loop, and it is a local favorite. It is one of very few beginner- and kid-friendly trails in the Santa Clarita Valley.

In July 2011 the trail was posted closed to bikes with no public notice, warning or input. Law enforcement have been on hand to ticket cyclists who ignore the signs, or didn’t notice them.

The alternative return route after riding Los Pinetos  is to ride pavement from Walker Ranch out to the Nature Center and back to the usual parking area. This paved, narrow two-lane road has no shoulder and no bike lanes, and is much more dangerous.  There is no alternative easy out-and-back off-road ride for beginners or those looking for an easy ride.

In County Nature Preserves like Placerita Canyon, it is at the sole discretion of the director whether trails are opened or closed to bikes. Local riders have been in contact with the park’s management about the closure, and are working to find solutions to mitigate the concerns that have led to the closure of the trail to bikes.

While it is encouraging to know the County is open to hearing the concerns of local trail users who are directly affected by this closure, to have received no prior official or public notice of the closure has left the local cycling community frustrated and angered. The reasons for the closure were unclear, though environmental impacts to Placerita Creek were initially mentioned. However the trail remains open to equestrians who have much more impact than bicycles. Trail user conflicts seem to be the real reason, though to our knowledge no specific injuries or instances have been cited. 

CORBA has long argued that excluding a user group from a trail only leads to further division among user groups, whereas including all users helps bring the trail user community together to find solutions. As the local cycling community works with the County to find a reasonable compromise to re-open the trail, cyclists should avoid riding the Canyon Trail and obey all posted signs in the area.

Read more of the local perspective from the blog or coverage from The Signal.