Backbone Trail back in business after fire

Published by Steve on

Source of this article, The Thousand Oaks Acorn, July 25, 2019

HEAD FOR THE HILLS—Hikers can once again traverse all 67 miles of the Backbone Trail.

Eight months after the largest fire to ever hit Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, all 67 miles of the park’s most famous trail have reopened to the public. The final six miles of the Backbone Trail that had remained closed since the November 2018 fire reopened on July 18.

The Woolsey fire hit the section of the trail that runs from the Kanan Road trailhead east to Corral Canyon Road particularly hard, destroying 120 feet of retaining wall and littering the trail with dangerous tree limbs.

Winter storms further complicated recovery efforts.

Workers from the National Park Service trail crew, with assistance from the California Conservation Corps and the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council, completed the repairs.

“We know that the Backbone Trail is one of the most beloved trail experiences in the Los Angeles area and we are delighted to reopen the full network to the public,” Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area superintendent David Szymanski said.

The park service requests visitors stay on trails and be aware that numerous safety hazards still exist. Hikers going off trail can cause more damage to newly restored trails, trample new plants and prevent the regrowth of fragile vegetation.

The Backbone Trail, completed in 2016 after a 40-year effort to acquire the necessary patchwork of land parcels, traverses one of Southern California’s largest remaining tracts of undeveloped landscape, a wellpreserved mix of chaparral-covered hillsides, oak woodlands and rocky outcrop spires.

The trail stretches from the city of Los Angeles to Ventura County and crosses California State Parks, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority and National Park Service lands.

The Woolsey fire burned 88% of all National Park Service land in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, including 112 miles of trails and more than 30 structures.

With the reopening of the Backbone Trail, only small park sites at Arroyo Sequit, Peter Strauss Ranch and Rocky Oaks remain closed.

The park is pursuing a multiyear rebuilding strategy, with repairs to Paramount Ranch in Agoura as the top priority, officials said.