Backbone Trail blocked at the west end of Etz Meloy Mtwy
A locked gate has been blocking the Backbone Trail (BBT) at the west end of Etz Meloy Motorway since mid-October. This interupts a very popular mountain bike ride from the parking area on Encinal Canyon Road to the Mishe Mokwa Trailhead, covering the two newest singletrack sections of the Backbone Trail.
There has been a standard fireroad gate there for years, but apparently some months ago a side gate appeared that completely blocks passage along the road. This side gate was usually open or unlocked, but was permanently locked at about the time of the federal governement shutdown in October. This led to speculation that it was the National Park Service (NPS), owner of most of the land around this section of the BBT, who closed off the trail to keep people off of federal property during the government shutdown.
However, the locked gate was a surprise to the NPS as much as to the rest of us. Apparently one of the private landowners in the area has locked the gate. One rumor is that it is to keep noisy and littering partiers out.
Some of the land crossed by Etz Meloy Mtwy at the west end is still in private hands. The NPS is actively trying to acquire this propery or make some other arrangements with the landowners to allow public access. Until that happens, the west end of Etz Meloy has been and continutes to be closed to public access (see map above). The NPS asks that members of the public stay off of this section to help engender his cooperation in discussions to allow everyone to use this trail.
I will try to provide more information as it becomes available.