Posts Tagged ‘LA County’

Castaic Trails and Puente Hills Park Plans Approved

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016
Park and Rec Staff give their report

Park and Rec Staff give their report

October 25, 2016 was a great day for trails, open space and bike parks in Los Angeles County.  Some time ago, we learned that the Puente Hills Landfill Park Master Plan would be on today’s County Board of Supervisors agenda.  Last week, we were notified that the Castaic Multiuse Trail Master Plan would be on the same agenda.


Kevin from SCV Trail Users speaks to support the Castaic plan.

Both these plans include Bike Skills Parks, as proposed by CORBA to the County in 2011.  It’s been a long process with much input from local residents, trail users, mountain bikers and environmental and social justice organizations. With these bike skills parks appearing on their respective master plans, which will be incorporated into the County General Plan, we have confirmed a future Los Angeles that will include bike skills parks.

The Puente Hills plan includes two bike skills area, one in Phase One, and a second in Phase two. The Castaic plan identifies three potential bike skills park sites. The plans do not include specific bike park designs. These designs will take some time, and much community involvement. The onus will be on us, the mountain biking community, to follow through and remain engaged in the design process, and ultimately, to help raise funds and build these facilities.

These planning documents are intended to guide long-term development over multiple decades, as funding and other opportunities become available. Fully realized, they will provide many miles of multi-use trails, trailhead staging areas, and other amenities. The Puente Hills plan includes multiple recreational amenities, including public performance spaces, a zip line, bike skills park, dog park, and balances that with habitat restoration and native landscaping. There is something for everyone.

Four of us spoke in favor of the Castaic plan, including CORBA, the SoCal High School Cycling League and SCV Trail Users, while one local resident expressed concerns that a proposed trail in the plan traverses her property. Supvervisor Antonovich asked the park planning staff how the plan addresses and protects private property rights and received assurances that easements or property acquisitions will only take place from willing sellers.


Over 30 people came to speak on the Puente Hills plan, rallied by our friends at Bike SGV, the San Gabriel Mountains Forever coalition, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and CORBA.  It was obvious to the County that there is tremendous community support for the plan, so it wasn’t necessary for all 30 to speak. Wes Reutman from Bike SGV, spoke on behalf of the group.  Support also came from the Wilderness Society and the Trust for Public Land.

We want to express our sincere thanks to both the County Department of Parks and Recreation, and the County Supervisors for supporting the development of these plans.  We also extend our appreciation to Alta Planning for their great work on engaging the Santa Clarita Valley community in the development of the Castaic Plan, and Withers & Sandgren Landscape Architecture firm who were enlisted as the prime consultant on the Puente Hills plan. Both the Castaic and Puente Hills planning processes typified the type of extensive community outreach and engagement that are necessary to develop viable community-driven plans that reflect the desires and address the concerns of the community and trail and park users.

Of special note is the long-standing support for trails and open spaces exhibited by Supervisor Antonovich, who will term out at the end of this year. His legacy includes the Santa Susana Trails Master Plan, and the Castaic Multiuse Trail Master Plan. As an equestrian and a champion of multi-use trails, Supervisor Antonovich has arguable had a greater impact on trails in Los Angeles County than any other single elected official in the area. In fact, 30 years ago, I served as assistant race director of the Olive View Challenge, a running, cycling, mountain biking and BMX event raising funds for Olive View hospital. Supervisor Antonovich was an ardent supporter of our nacent mountain biking race then (the first ever sanctioned mountain bike race on County and National Forest lands). He’s been a champion of trails since, and throughout his career in County government.

While a great step forward, there is still a lot of work to be done before we’ll be shaping dirt into pump tracks, jumps, and skills features at either Castaic or Puente Hills. We hope to begin the design phase for Castaic as early as next year. Puente Hills needs a few more years for the landfill to settle, and phase one will likely begin in late 2017 through 2019.

Palos Verdes Volunteer Trail Patrol Needs Mountain Bikers

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

bike_group_delcerro2Rancho Palos Verdes will soon create a Volunteer Trail Patrol program. CORBA PV has recommended the formation of a trail patrol for many years. It will be similar to volunteer patrols from other open space agencies including the Santa Monica Mountains based Mountain Bike Unit. The MBU was founded by CORBA in 1988 and now works under the National Park Service, the California State Parks, and the Santa Monica Mountains MRCA (Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority).

Volunteer Trail Patrol members will assist the MRCA rangers by regularly patrolling the Palos Verdes Nature Preserve on foot, by horse or by bicycle. The goal is to educate and assist trail users, report safety hazards, maintenance needs, and regulation infractions. Volunteer Trail Patrol members will not be able to issue citations or make arrests.

It is important to have members from all three user groups on the patrol. Peer to peer communication is the most effective way to education trail users and minimize user conflicts concerns. For years CORBA PV has called on the city to collect factual on-trail information instead of relying on anecdotal comments at public meetings. Your participation will help collect accurate information and lead to impartial decisions by the city council.

The program is yet to be finalized but volunteers will undergo training and commit to four hours per month. Those who are interested can contact Barb Ailor at For more information go to

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).

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.


Santa Clarita Valley Trail Users Update

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Dear Friends,

We are reaching out to all of you who signed the petition supporting equal access for all trail users, including cyclists, on the Canyon Trail at the Placerita Nature Center.  Here’s an update.

About 25 of us met with three park officials from LA County Parks and Rec on August 19 to express our outrage about the recent closing of the Canyon Trail to cyclists.  At this meeting, the County officials explained that the previous signs allowing cycling on this trail were a “mistake” and also cited environmental and safety concerns relating to off-road cycling on this trail.  However, the County officials admitted that this is a matter of policy and that policy can be changed.  Kimel Conway, the senior official present at the meeting, agreed to schedule a meeting with Russ Guiney, the Director of LA County Parks and Rec, if we would prepare a “brief” summarizing our concerns and the possible solutions to their concerns.

Since then, we have formed a committee to press on with our cause.  Here’s what the committee has resolved thus far.

1.  We have prepared a “brief” as requested by the County in preparation for our meeting with the Director.  We are now working on scheduling that meeting at the earliest possible time.

2.  We recognize that the issue is much bigger than the Canyon Trail at the Placerita Nature Center.  Recently the trails at Vasquez Rocks were also closed by the County for much the same reasons.  We need to advocate for safe and equal access to ALL SCV TRAILS.

3.  We believe our best position is to advocate for safe and equal access for ALL USERS, not just cyclists.  Even though others in our community want to exclude cyclists from the trials, we believe an inclusive position is most likely to succeed.

4.  We have named our group the SCV Trail Users and will use the slogan, “Safe and Equal Access for All”.

5.  We need to build a database of supporters as we will likely need to mobilize larger numbers at future public hearings.  We will be using our Facebook Group, The SCV Trail Users – Safe & Equal Access To SCV Trails, our current petition, and this email list for this purpose.

6.  We will be designing and distributing a flyer and a business card (to carry with you when out on the trails) with information about the Facebook Group, the petition, and our email list.  We plan to make the flyers available at all of the local bike shops.

What can you do to help?

Please help us build our database of supporters.   We believe this will be critical to our success!  Join our Facebook group, sign our petition, and add your name to our email list.  Please ask other supporters to do the same.  And be ready to show your support!

Facebook Group:


Email to add an email address to our list.

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.


LA County Draft Trails Manual Public Hearing

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

LA County Draft Trails ManualOn February 28, 2011, about 50 people gathered in the beautiful Birch Room at Descanso Gardens in La Canada. We were there to review and comment upon the most recent draft of the Los Angeles County Trails Manual. But let’s back up a bit…

Last July, CORBA board members met with LA County Planning and Sapphos Environmental (the contractor developing the Trails Manual for the County), in a Mountain Biker only public forum. At that meeting only three CORBA board members attended, the County representatives, and nobody else. The Equestrian-only meeting had many more participants, as did the Hiker-only meeting. Since this document will not set any policy regarding trail designations, Sapphos deemed it more productive to hold separate meetings with each user group. Each group gave their input on what they’d like to see covered in the trails manual, and their special concerns.

At that time in July 2010 there was only one section of the trails manual available for review: the section concerning trail design standards. Most of the standards in that preliminary section were adapted from IMBA’s Trail Solutions book, and other reputable multi-use trail construction texts. It was to be a technical document on building and designing trails, with no influence on the contentious issues around trail user groups and trail designations.

The County’s stated policy and goal is to accommodate all user groups on all trails possible. It is a multi-use, bike-friendly policy that works. We were informed at that time that there would be another round of public hearings as the manual was developed, based on the input from user groups at these meetings. The Manual is being developed with a grant from Supervisor Antonovich’s 5th district, in which the vast majority of the County’s trails can be found. The County has never had any offical trail standards, and many of the older trails are not really sustainable by today’s standards. However, this document would NOT be applied retroactively to existing trails, but will serve as the reference for all new trails that come before the County. It is likely that many of the 88 cities in Los Angeles County will also adopt this manual for their own standards once it is ratified by the County Board of Supervisors.

Fast forward to the February 28, 2011 public hearing. Steve Messer, and CORBA member/local cycling promotor and activist Dorothy Wong attended the meeting, along with about 40 local equestrians and hikers. For a welcome change from other meetings in which CORBA has been involved, the biggest issues raised were not contentious user conflicts, but rather, design standards pertaining to potentially flawed trail designs and citations from outdated Equestrian studies and facility designs.


Elsmere Canyon Now Public Land

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

The city of Santa Clarita recently closed escrow on the 842 parcel of land known as Elsmere Canyon. Elsmere was slated to become the largest landfill in Los Angeles during the 1990’s, before Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Howard McKeon fought to prevent the devastating landfill project.

Elsmere Canyon Map