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community building | environment

Trail Building in the San Gabriel Mountains

The San Gabriel Mountains Trail Builders continues the never-ending effort to maintain and establish foot trails to limit human impact in the forest.
To start, we take a look from the top of the proposed trail across the river
To start, we take a look from the top of the proposed trail across the river
Here's another preliminary look across the river, a bit to the left
Here's another preliminary look across the river, a bit to the left
And another look, further toward the left from the proposed trail head
And another look, further toward the left from the proposed trail head
Here's the parking area which will be the start of the new trail
Here's the parking area which will be the start of the new trail
A look down the hillside.  The new trail will be cut into this hill.
A look down the hillside. The new trail will be cut into this hill.
And just for luck we look across the river again, a bit further down river
And just for luck we look across the river again, a bit further down river
The slope of the trail is surveyed from down below
The slope of the trail is surveyed from down below
Mike with his chainsaw certificate takes a team to clear fallen trees
Mike with his chainsaw certificate takes a team to clear fallen trees
Ben looks down along the proposed new trail.  Camp follows off in the distance
Ben looks down along the proposed new trail. Camp follows off in the distance
Phil (in the distance) and Ben clearing brush and poison oak along the hillside
Phil (in the distance) and Ben clearing brush and poison oak along the hillside
Tree limbs (mostly dead) are being cut away and bush is being removed
Tree limbs (mostly dead) are being cut away and bush is being removed
Phil cuts while apparently standing on a very sharp axe, maybe.  }:-}
Phil cuts while apparently standing on a very sharp axe, maybe. }:-}
From down below, we see a drainage culvery that goes under the road and trail
From down below, we see a drainage culvery that goes under the road and trail
The new trail is surveyed from a soon-to-be-obsolete older, more dangerous trail
The new trail is surveyed from a soon-to-be-obsolete older, more dangerous trail
The new trail is about to meet up with the old trail.  We might use some old
The new trail is about to meet up with the old trail. We might use some old
Later in the day as the new trail gets carved out a bit more
Later in the day as the new trail gets carved out a bit more
Looking back at the chainsaw team, they've cleared a great dead of the fall
Looking back at the chainsaw team, they've cleared a great dead of the fall
From the chainsaw team looking back toward the road -- major washout
From the chainsaw team looking back toward the road -- major washout
Damn, who is that handsom, very manly fellow?!  Why, it's me, of course!
Damn, who is that handsom, very manly fellow?! Why, it's me, of course!
While we're here, let's take a look at the river.  Nice drinkable water
While we're here, let's take a look at the river. Nice drinkable water
The pool here is about 5 feet deep with a nice beach: My bath durring the Summer
The pool here is about 5 feet deep with a nice beach: My bath durring the Summer
North 34 degrees 14.227 by West 117 degrees 48.762
Elevation 1596 feet

The San Gabriel Mountains Trail Builders worked with members of the U. S. Forest Service this past Saturday to establish an official and safe foot trail leading from the East Fork Road parking area down to the river below. The effort is part of the on-going program to establish foot trails to concentrate hikers, campers, and picnickers along trails to increase safety and limit erosion and pollution caused by numerous people who usually tromp all over the place.

When completed, the new trail - approximately 108 feet in length containing one switchback, approximately 4 feet wide to accommodate horses to assist in packing out garbage, and approximately at a 10 degree slope - will be used by hikers and campers to access the river.

The use of the numerous informal and dangerous trails along the road will be discouraged or eventually blocked off to allow vegetation to be re-established along them. It's hoped that this will help reduce the number of medical calls that the USFS responds to in any given week - or at least reduce such calls for this particular location - and make it easier for hikers to carry out their own garbage rather than just dump it along the river (as so many people do.)

While the Trailbuilders were surveying the new trail, Lois from the USFS worked on removing spray painted graffiti from the Service's signs. Mike with his chainsaw certificate took a team to cut up and clear a fairly dangerous section of road about 200 feet away at the bottom of a major washout. Janet (spelling?) worked along the road and hillsides collecting garbage and removing tripping hazards.

The rest formed the main team which utilized a inclinometer and flags to establish the route for the trail, and then got to work with a variety of tools to clear the path of brush. The preliminary proposed trail was fairly quickly dug into the side of the hill and then all work stopped when it started to rain (not because we're wimps but because clinging to mud on hillsides while holding sharp tools is kind of dangerous.)

Eventually we'll be back, installing soil-holding fencing and finishing the trail over a number of sessions. We're avoiding pockets of poison oak and trying to make the trail pleasing to the eye as well as easy to walk. When that's done, the USFS will come in and place signs asking people to utilize the new trail and, of course, the trash bins which will be placed down below.

Note: The Oregon area activists are often concerned with environmental issues so I've posted this article in Portland. Also I'm not a member of the Trailbuilders or a spokesman for the group. I volunteer time and effort since I utilize these mountains a great deal and the San Gabriel Mountains Trail Builders do a very good job assisting in aiding the environment and limiting human impact in the mountains.

homepage: homepage: http://www.sgmtrailbuilders.org/

Google view of the area 20.Mar.2006 14:48

Fredric L. Rice frice@skeptictank.org

Here's a satelite view.
From Google Earth
From Google Earth

dubious 20.Mar.2006 16:33

barefoot

hard to get exact scale, but from vegetation cues, that looks more like a damned two lane road than a "trail". reckon the human impacts have been impose for years and years--white settlers doing what they have always done, enjoying liberty and freedom and their sit down, move and make noise toys. the soils appear most certainly compacted like a foot deep swath of concrete, and would take many decades to get friable ever again and centuries for the microphytic matrix re-established. wonder what other creatures get to share their habitat with the human recreationists in that area.

My bad, Google Earth photograph not accurate 21.Mar.2006 12:37

Fredric L. Rice frice@skeptictank.org

The pin placed into the Google Earth photograph is placed across the street from the start of the new trail -- which isn't shown in this photograph because the photograph is about 3 months old.

Follows Camp 27.Apr.2006 12:53

Birdi

I know Follows Camp well. The bridge that you see in the satellite image is the entrance to the campground. The new trail entrance is just to the west of Follows, downstream on forest service land. The area is heavily used on summer weekends. Aside from the paved road, many of the other dirt roads in the satellite pic are on Follows land, or part of a fire service road.

Follows Camp has been a community since the mid 1800's. After Joe the owner died, the property went up for sale. Then the big flood came washing out most of the campground. It also destroyed the property of the volunteer fire department including the antique firetruck, the stagecoach and wagon, the community center, the old Camp Follows lodge, and many other small buildings and vehicles. Two of the three bridges were destroyed, and the remaining bridge washed away on both sides and stranded the residents for 2 weeks. The restaurant survived, a small section of campground, the mining museum, and most of the trailers and cabins on the hill were safe as well.

Most recently, the permanent residents have been fighting in court to prevent the closing down of the community and the eviction of the residents. When in court it was revealed that the land is zoned agricultural, a true rarity in LA county. The judge was apologetic at being unable to apply trailer park laws to the resident's case because of lack of permits. He expressed sorrow at having to oversee the dismantling of a community with historical significance and community spirit. This is the final week of occupation by the few remaining residents. It will be a ghost town behind locked gates by next week.

Rumours are flying, but there is a belief that the Follows Camp property might be on the market again after the previous escrow fell through during the litigation process (which still continues). If anyone can find out the status of the land I would love to know. My friends are trying to interest an historical society in preservation of the historical aspects of old Follows Camp and the former Shady Grove (where the restaurant is located). We want to learn the status of ownership, and hopefull rally the world to the preservation cause.

thanks, Birdi
View of East Fork of the San Gabriel River from Shady Grove Ridge, after flood
View of East Fork of the San Gabriel River from Shady Grove Ridge, after flood