Posts Tagged ‘trail maintenance’

Sunset Ridge Trailwork

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Angeles Mountain Patrol and CORBA Volunteer Robin McGuire

On Saturday June 4th, CORBA volunteers worked with Mount Wilson Bicycling Association to restore the Lower Sunset Ridge trail. The one-mile trail runs between Millard Campground and the Mt. Lowe Fire Road. This portion of the National Forest had just been opened a few weeks prior, and the trail was in relatively good shape, but severely overgrown in places.

The original plan was to split into two crews and tackle both the Lower Sunset Ridge and brushing on the Sunset Ridge trail.  It was a disappointingly low turnout, with only five people coming out to give back to the trails. However, the five who came out were all experienced trailworkers, and we were able to get the entire trail brushed. That includes all the poison oak. We also rebuilt a basket that supports the trail through a drainage, carrying several tons of rock by hand to fill the void in the trail and restore the tread.

Mount Wilson Bicycling Association had done a previous day of work on State Trails day, repairing another problem drainage along this trail. We’re happy to see the MWBA getting more active once again, and look forward to working with them on future trailwork days.

Thanks to Mitch Marich of the Mount Wilson Bicycle Association, Angeles Mountain Patrol and intrepid trailwork volunteers Mike and Robin McGuire for all your sweat.

More before and after pictures after the break.


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.

Backbone Trail Maintenance June 2010

Friday, June 25th, 2010

By Mark Langton 

Latigo Canyon section of the Backbone Trail just west of Newton Mtwy.

Over the last couple of weeks some new maintenance has occurred on the Backbone Trail along sections at Solstice and Latigo Canyons (National Park Service-held property). The crew that did the work is unknown at this time, but it is assumed that it was National Park Service or contracted by them.  It was very professionally done. Hand-worked tread leveling and minor widening has taken place, with a few sections being filled in with soft dirt. The depth of these short fill sections does not exceed one inch at their deepest. 

The trail heading east from Newton Motorway: Natural rock formations along the upper section and at the bottom as it enters the canyon bottom  have been left intact.  Switchbacks were left intact or filled slightly. 

Another section of the Backbone West of Newton Mtwy. where some rock was left in the tread.

The section of trail most affected is directly to the west of Newton Motorway. The tread surface of the first half-mile of this mildly rolling, somewhat technical section has been leveled and filled, and slightly widened, and three or four short rocky sections were removed, making it much less technical. Further to the west, where the trail has notoriously seen heavy erosion due to its steep pitch, it has been slightly re-routed and leveled, and several drainages have been added to assist with water runoff. This is a significant improvement for both uphill and downhill travel.  When contacted by CORBA, Melanie Beck, an outdoor recreation planner for the National Park Service, stated that the work was considered routine and done for resource maintenance and safety concerns. At the time of this report no information was available regarding any additional trail work in the immediate future. 

Over the last 23 years I have seen this type of trail work and it is indeed not out of the ordinary, nor is it overly aggressive (of which I have also seen). In fact, the soft sections of tread surface resemble that of a just-completed new trail. Compacting will take place over the next few months with use and moisture, and hydro-erosion will begin sculpting ruts and other natural formations. Climbing the filled sections was a little more work than usual, but they should get packed down soon enough. And descending required only slightly more attention paid to washing out. I am a little disappointed that the short rocky sections were removed, but that’s a personal selfishness—the trail is still a blast and is one of the best and most scenic sections in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Report from CORBA Trail Crew – Santa Monica Mountains Trail Day 4/24/2010

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

By Danusia Bennett-Taber

Over twenty mountain bikers joined the CORBA Trail Crew for Santa Monica Trails Days on April 24th in Point Mugu State Park. They came to give something back to the trails they love to ride.

Drain placement is very important. This looks like the right spot?

CORBA crew leader Hans Keifer shuttled a few people and carried all the tools, while most of the group rode their bikes to the work location. The CORBA crew worked mostly on the upper section of  Wood Vista (aka “Backbone”) trail to add drains to eliminate channeling of water down the middle of the trail, forming a rut.

This section of the trail was really overgrown!

Volunteers also cut back brush. Not an easy task considering that a few sections of the trail were overgrown with a poison oak!

No work day could be complete without a quick ride on a newly maintained trail.

Special thanks to the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days organizers for preparing the BBQ and for the prizes that were raffled off at the conclusion of trail work. Also thanks to IMBA/Clif for donating trail crew snacks.

Last but not least, thanks to all the CORBA crew volunteers that came to support trails. Trail work provides many benefits like creating and maintaining riding opportunities, preserving habitat, burning extra calories, interacting with fellow mountain bikers and making friends with other trail users. Now let’s go and ride! We earned it.

Rut is gone!

I pledge to come to every CORBA trail work day!