LA.com’s Daily News is reporting hikers are damaging the re-opened trails of recently burned areas of Griffith Park by straying off trail and trampling over recovering chaparral. And who, you might ask, is doing all of this irresponsible hiking? According to the News, “elite hikers of the Sierra Club.”
Up to 500 Sierrans hike Griffith Park three nights a week, and apparently their reckless off-trail stomping isn’t news either to park rangers or Sierra Club hike leaders. Endangered Species Task Force hike leader Rosemarie White recalled running into another group of Sierra Club hikers while leading a moderate on-trail hike: “They were coming straight up where there was no trail, grabbing branches like it was the cat’s meow.”
Large-scale off-trail hiking can increase erosion and destroy plant habitat anywhere, but in this area of fire recovery, stomping boots can crush new seedlings, kick up roots, and displace planted mulch and seeds.
But that doesn’t matter to hikers like Andy Serrano, who
said a trail is a trail, with many undesignated paths leading to stairways, bridges and other man-made features.
In some areas, he said, the unofficial trails are the only way to get from place to place, as from Lake Hollywood to Mount Cahuenga.
“I’m a fast hiker, but I don’t blaze new trails,” Serrano said. He added that, without the sporting element, many hikers would rather stay home. “They won’t come. I wouldn’t come.
“I’d go to the gym, where there are pretty girls in leotards,” he said. “The smaller trails … are very steep. You do some technical climbing. There are rocks. They’re more challenging.
“The fire trails are like a sidewalk. There’s absolutely nothing interesting there.”
Hey, Andy, you know what? I don’t like fire roads, either. But when I want a challenging trail, I find a challenging trail. I don’t make my own.