Work begins on La Cañada's Ultimate Destination Point

LLiz Blackwelder said friends teased her years ago when she proposed a rest area on a La Cañada Flintridge trail that would offer water for both hikers and horses.

But in a couple of months, her vision will become a reality.

Officials broke ground on Thursday for the Ultimate Destination Point, a scenic lookout in Cherry Canyon that will include water fountains and native oak trees when it is complete.

Blackwelder, 93, said she thought of the project one day while riding her horse on a trail.

“I thought then, at that time, how wonderful it would be to have a place as a rest area and water for both of us,” she said. “I talked about it to some of my trail friends, and they said, ‘That'll be the day!'

“We are approaching that day and I can't tell you how pleased I am.”

The ceremony was held at the start of the Owls Trail, a location officials deemed easier for Blackwelder to access than the actual project area.

Blackwelder, who was not feeling well, almost canceled her appearance. But Randy Strapazon, a former member of the Trails Council, collected her from her home and drove her to the trail.

Throughout the ceremony, Blackwelder stayed in Strapzon's car, which was parked near a sign that listed Liz's Loop, a trail named for her. She appeared in good spirits as she addressed officials and friends.

“I'm so happy that the city has invested in this,” she said. “Thank you all so much.”

Blackwelder initiated the $136,000 project in 2009 when she put down $35,000 of her own money. Private donations followed, as well as backing from the La Cañada Flintridge Trails Council, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and Southern California Edison. In February, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors gave $30,000.

Officials say the area will be open for visitors in May.

Strapazon said it's great to see officials trust a resident to know what improvements the trails need.

“She's never led them astray,” Strapazon said. “And like she's said, she knows these trails by heart and she's had her horse up there a couple of times and would have liked to have water. She knows that families don't always remember to bring enough water [when using the trail].”

Outgoing Mayor Steve Del Guercio, officiating at one of his final ceremonies as a member of the City Council, called Cherry Canyon one of his “favorite places on Earth” and said the area continues to improve. He thanked Blackwelder for her activism.

“This is going to be an absolutely wonderful project,” he said.


Follow Tiffany Kelly on Google+ and on Twitter @LATiffanyKelly.

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