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Bicycles might be allowed on trail

County commission to decide whether two-wheeled vehicles may go on local path

Posted: July 10, 2012 7:00 a.m.
Updated: July 10, 2012 7:00 a.m.
Signage is seen at the head of Canyon Trail in Newhall on Monday. Signage is seen at the head of Canyon Trail in Newhall on Monday.
Signage is seen at the head of Canyon Trail in Newhall on Monday.

A sign mistakenly posted on a Placerita Canyon trail has led to a public meeting Thursday to determine whether hikers and horseback riders can peacefully co-exist with mountain bikers.

The Canyon Trail, which starts at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center, is currently only open to hikers and equestrians. The trail is about 1.65 miles long and connects the Placerita Canyon Nature Center to the Walker Ranch Staging Area — which includes a picnic area, restrooms and the trailheads for Los Pinetos Trail and the Waterfall Trail.

The trail was always off-limits to bicyclists, but a multi-use trail sign was mistakenly posted at the trailhead in 2007, according to the draft trail assessment report prepared for the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.

When officials changed the sign to the correct one last year, bicyclists protested.

During a contentious meeting last August, about two dozen unhappy bikers expressed their displeasure at being banned from the trail while county officials said they never intended the trail to be multipurpose use.

Following a study, county staff members recommended mountain bikes be allowed on the trail, although the county would have to make improvements first for safety.

Some of the safety improvements would include installing signs, installing “pinch points” — areas that narrow the trail to force mountain bikers to slow — and adding signs warning mountain bikers of slow speed zones.

The county would also look at re-grading the trail, trimming vegetation, protecting an oil seep, installing railing and making other trail improvements, according to the study report.

The Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department will consider the recommendations, along with feedback from residents taken during a meeting Thursday. Then a final decision on whether bicycles are allowed on the trail will be made, said Kaye Michelson, special assistant with the department.

“The public input is extremely important,” Michelson said. “We’re asking that all user groups provide input on the report.”

If the Parks Department does approve the plan, it would still have to make preliminary cost estimates, prioritize improvements, identify funding sources and complete the initial safety improvements before bicycles would be allowed on the trail.

Michelson was unable to give an estimate of when bicyclists would be able to use Canyon Trail.

A second trail will also be discussed at Thursday’s meeting. Avid trail users will invited to comment on the county’s recommendation that Heritage Trail in the Vasquez Rocks Natural Area remain closed to bicycles.

The half-mile trail connects to Pacific Crest Trail, which does not allow bicycles, and also connects the parking area by the temporary ranger office with the larger parking area southeast of the most well-known of the rock formations, according to a draft trail assessment for the Heritage Trail.

The county recommended the area remain closed to bicycles because there is already an unpaved road there that connects the parking areas, there are no trails or connections to trails where mountain bikes are allowed, and there are significant cultural resources that could be impacted by additional trail use.

The meeting on both trails will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. at Hart Hall at William S. Hart Park, at 24151 N. Newhall Ave.



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