Like most things we use often and want to keep around, trails in our San Bernardino National Forest require routine maintenance. When left alone, nature takes its course and they can become dilapidated. When used often by humans, trails are susceptible to a multitude of problems like litter, shirt-cutting and soil displacement. When you combine both causes, things can go south in a hurry.

This is why the Big Bear Valley Trails Foundation and Souther California Mountains Foundation working with the United States Forest service enlist the help of staff and volunteers to provide trail maintenance efforts on all of the trails in the Forest Service system, year after year. The goal of all these efforts is to make all trails more sustainable. Why? Sustainable trails:

  • Protect the environment
  • Meet the needs of their users
  • Require little maintenance
  • Minimize conflict between user groups

The Cougar Crest trail is a trail so old its origins are anecdotal; some longtime locals remember taking automobiles up part of it before it was incorporated into the USFS trail system as a nonmotorized trail some time ago. Because of that longtime use, at some spots the trail had widened to a point that it resembled more of a road rather than singletrack. The surface of the trail was so hardened by decades of hard use that water could not percolate and vegetation could not grow around it. Additionally, the portions of the trail were often in a creek bed, running straight up and down the mountain, making it prone to heavy and unnecessary erosion.

Beginning with the National Trails Day on June 2 and followed by several other events, Southern California Mountains foundation staff led volunteers from across the region on maintenance projects on this trail to make it more sustainable and user friendly. From the hard work of these volunteers, the sides of the trail were “chunked” to create a more intimate trail experience and to better guide users. Drainages were constructed throughout to mitigate erosion. The trail was also relocated at key points away from problematic areas to more maintainable ones.

The result? Improvements that are palatable. Thanks to these volunteers, there’s never been a better time to visit this old trail.

Reposted from the Big Bear Grizzly Weekender October 19, 2018