Mile by mile the trails ravaged by the Thomas Fire are being restored to improve public access to wilderness throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. This spring, a coalition of organizations dedicated to regional trails are collaborating to repair the fire-damaged and severely overgrown Murietta Trail near Ojai, Calif.
The trails group, which consists of Los Padres Forest Association, The C.R.E.W., Sage Trail Alliance, and the Santa Barbara County Trails Council, have joined forces to restore the Murietta Trail. The project is being launched with a grant from the Thomas Fire Trail Fund at https://thomasfiretrailfund.org/.
“We’re very excited to begin work on the Murietta Trail,” said Bryan Conant of the Los Padres Forest Association. “Right now the trail is incredibly overgrown and in some places impossible to follow, but once it’s restored, it will be open to all types of trail users—day hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians and also backpackers camping at Murietta Camp.”
The trail begins about 12 miles northwest of Ojai, where Murietta Canyon and Matilija Canyon watersheds meet. From the trailhead, Murietta Trail meanders 1.67 miles southwest through the Los Padres National Forest, toward Santa Barbara County.
“Restoration of this trail is a crucial first step toward reconnecting the Santa Barbara and Ventura trail systems. Upon completion, we anticipate that hikers looking for a challenge will launch from the Murietta Trail, crest the Santa Ynez Mountains, and connect to Santa Barbara County front and backcountry trails,” said Mark Wilkinson of the Santa Barbara County Trails Council.
Work on Murietta Trail is kicking off now and anticipated to be complete by mid-May. Following a flagged route, trail crews will cut a rough preliminary line through the dense ground cover, remove downed trees across the trail, and restore it to U.S. Forest Service Trail Standards.
“With a focus on sustainable trail construction and by joining forces we are able to improve the resilience of the Murietta Trail to erosion and help conserve the natural ecosystems as a whole for the enjoyment of generations to come,” said Dillon Osleger of Sage Trail Alliance.
“Backcountry trails are at the heart of our organization’s mission and history,” said Jennifer Berry of The C.R.E.W. “We feel incredibly fortunate that our young adult staff can take part in this valuable work—and working with power and hand tools in the field means we’re already very good at safe distancing!”
To volunteer or support the project financially, please visit https://thomasfiretrailfund.org/donate/
The Thomas Fire Trail Fund provides financial support for the restoration of Ventura and Santa Barbara County trails affected by natural disasters such as the Thomas Fire. The collaboration is supported by REI Co-Op, Ventura County Community Fund, and donations from Patagonia and community members.
Learn more about the trail focused coalition: