Open The Pinecrest Gate
The Lowelifes Board along with 200 other concerned community members attended the Los Angeles County Park Department’s meeting regarding Eaton Canyon access and the controversial Pinecrest Gate on March 3rd, 2021. We’d like to thank LA County Parks for the opportunity for the community to voice our viewpoints, and we are especially appreciative of the members of the community who spoke up.
Many speakers at the online meeting supported unfettered access to the Pinecrest gate and our public lands in the Angeles National Forest. While we acknowledge that there are valid concerns around the Eaton Canyon and Falls area and the issues common to popular park areas – litter, wear and tear, and other symptoms of high use – Lowelifes doesn’t believe the current reservation system is equitable to those without computers or leisure time to recreate during business hours on weekdays. Eaton Canyon and the neighboring Angeles National Forest are our public lands, not a private preserve for the elite few.
It’s important for LA County and the USFS to address the issues around the Waterfall trail separately to the major forest access point of the Mt Wilson Toll Rd. I was very happy to see the County “all ears” and know the USFS was present listening to comments in the meeting. Hopefully this will be the start of further discussion for ways to embrace and educate novices, open access for locals and dedicated users while balancing impact on the trail network and wildlife.— Erik Hillard
The bulk of the comments at this meeting from Altadena and greater LA County hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers, and the volunteer groups that represent them seemed to echo our sentiments. This shows unity among the outdoor enthusiast and public lands volunteer community and a clear decision to make on the part of LA County Parks: Open The Gate.
Below are our Board’s public comments at the meeting:
“My name is Matt Baffert. I am a resident of Altadena and president of Lowelifes Respectable Citizens Club who is actively engaged in a volunteer agreement for trail maintenance with the Angeles National Forest. Formerly, I managed the trail program for Mount Wilson Bicycling Association
The restriction of access to a high use area like Eaton Canyon is exacerbating all the problems it is claiming to mitigate at neighboring trailheads while creating a known safety issue and thus a higher chance of impacting the hospital and medical system during a pandemic. The reservation system itself is highly problematic and is unavailable to ALL people who do not own a desktop computer. Additionally it fails to support the advice of those people and organizations that frequently use and organize stewardship in the Angeles National Forest through volunteer agreements with the Forest Service.
Why is LA County playing gatekeeper to public lands when the only people who are in favor of these restrictions are Eaton Canyon residents who are known to have personal keys to the gates?
I visited Eaton Canyon this evening after work via the Tanoble Dr entrance to the Altadena Crest Trail. The trail offers a terrible trail user experience with very steep, unsustainable sections of trail across most of its length. Once I reached the bridge at Eaton Canyon on the Mt Wilson Toll Rd there was no one in sight while all the other trailheads in Altadena are crowded. The Toll Rd is a very wide road and offers great social distance opportunities when compared to ALL of the other local trails and roads. Why restrict access here?”Matt Baffert, President, Lowelifes Respectable Citizens’ Club
“My name is Erik Hillard, and I’m a resident of Altadena for over 10 years. I am also a forest service trail work volunteer with the Lowelifes Respectable Citizens Club and a former board director of the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association. I moved to Altadena to have great access to the forest.
Access to the Eaton Canyon area should be restored in full, including opening of the Pinecrest gate. The closure of Pinecrest Gate prevents multi use and ADA access.
The Pinecrest gate is also the EXIT for many longer routes in the forest front country. Users who ascend the Mt Lowe Railway and cross over to the Toll Rd commonly exit via the gate late in the day.
The Mt Wilson Toll Rd is a wide fire road that offers one of the best opportunities for social distancing. Its restriction is pushing trail traffic to other areas of Altadena with narrower trails and causing other issues.
For many years, the Waterfalls have seen over use and too many air rescues. That should be addressed specifically, not with overreaching restrictions that include the Toll Rd. Improve the waterfalls with safer trails, better signage, and other ideas. Do not limit the community of a major forest access point because of issues at the Falls itself.
I am very happy to see this meeting engaging the community and thank you for listening to our concerns.”–Erik Hillard, CFO, Lowelifes Respectable Citizens’ Club
We have a partial audio recording of the meeting for those who missed it.