Many Southern Californians found refuge in the woods during the pandemic. Some took strolls through their neighborhood park or hiked into their local national forest.
Typically, groups of volunteers maintain those frontcountry and backcountry trails. They remove downed trees, stabilize banks so the path doesn’t erode, or fix signs so they are clear and visible. Most projects were postponed this past year due to COVID-19, but new crews are beginning to hit the trails with their tools once more.
“There's lots of work at Crystal Lake and lower Bear Creek,” says Ben White, who heads up San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders, a volunteer group based out of Azusa. They focus on trails along the San Gabriel River drainage and the San Antonio River drainage in the Angeles National Forest and Gabriel Mountains National Monument.
White’s volunteered on the trails for 32 years. He’s a carpenter by trade and he likes building things to see the finished product.
“But it's also the companionship,” he says. “I call it a mini vacation. My head can be a jumble before I start out in the morning, and by the time I come back, it's like I've been to Hawaii for two weeks. It's hard work, but it's very relaxing.”
Here are some other volunteer trail organizations to check out: