Troubled trail is smoothed

After years working to complete La Cañada’s Loop Trail finally brought success, the La Cañada Flintridge Trails Council found itself on a slippery slope earlier this year.

A section of the Gould Canyon Trail was so steep and treacherous that members of cross-country teams from local high schools stumbled while on it, and Trails Council member Randy Strapazon watched her own horse fall to its knees while trying to navigate the terrain.

“We had the county look a couple times, and while they’re there, out comes the track teams and boom, they go down,” Strapazon said. “[County workers] would come out and smooth it, and then the water would come. It would carve these huge ruts, and it’s almost like cement, it’s so hard.”

Strapazon said the hazard posed a danger to the loop trail that encircles the city. If that part of the trail was deemed too dangerous, the county could close it, severing the 12-mile loop the group completed last year.

“We fought so hard for loop, and now we have this crazy, dangerous thing,” she said. “You have to be careful with the county, because if they deem it to be too dangerous, then they close it, and you’ve lost your trail.”

On June 18, volunteers and Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation work crews, supported by a $5,000 grant from Southern California Edison, began reworking the troubled stretch of trail.

Over the course of two days, workers led by Ralph Beltran, head of the parks department's trail crew, cut down the top of the hill by two feet or more and re-graded it to make it less steep, said Strapazon. The next step involved bringing in truckloads of decomposed granite to transform the unstable hill into a more gently sloping trail with a softer surface.

Strapazon said that after the project was complete, Flintridge Trails Council board member Stephanie Stroup took her horse, Mouse, up and down the hill to try it out. The hill passed the Mouse test, but Strapazon said horses aren't the only beneficiaries.

“[We met] a family that hadn’t been down that way since before it got fixed because their kids slipped, no matter how good their shoes were,” she said. “People who’ve avoided it will be able to put it into their routine.”

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