Hikers warned of the dangers in local forest

Spring is here, and that means hikers and recreation enthusiasts are about to hit the trails in and around the Angeles National Forest. Some will not make it out under their own power.

On Tuesday, leaders of the agencies that rescue hikers hosted a safety meeting at Eaton Canyon Natural Area in Pasadena to warn about risks on the trails and the dangers of going off the trails.

Eaton Canyon is a focus for first responders because 2011 saw a high number of injuries and incidents requiring crews to use helicopters to bring hikers to safety.

Bill Niccum, assistant chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, said 60 hikers were rescued in the 190-acre Eaton Canyon Natural Area in the last 12 months. Thirty-five of them were injured and two died, he said. In 2010, only 50 rescues were required, and there was only one fatality.

“Last year, we had almost 487,000 hikers. We want to urge people to stay on the trails,” said Kim Bosell, superintendent of the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.

Officials criticized information and videos posted by visitors.

“In social networks, they say the park is beautiful [and] interesting, but it's a little misleading,” Niccum said. “Some areas are steep and hard.”

The U.S. Forest Service's Michael McIntyre warned hikers to stay away from Eaton Canyon's second waterfall, the site of many injuries. The terrain is rugged, and the ground is covered with slippery fragments of decomposed granite.

Pasadena Fire Capt. Bob Taylor encouraged visitors to carry plenty of water, wear good hiking boots and bring their cell phones in case of emergency.

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