Riverside aims to fix Mount Rubidoux’s trail troubles

 

Riverside aims to fix Mount Rubidoux’s trail troubles

The city wants to get rid of unauthorized paths up and down the mountain to stop erosion

Riverside aims to fix Mount Rubidoux’s trail troubles – Press Enterprise


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 A man and his dog walk up a non-designated trail on Mount Rubidoux as a woman uses a path Tuesday, Jan. 10. Riverside officials hope to stop people from using unauthorized trails.

A man and his dog walk up a non-designated trail on Mount Rubidoux as a woman uses a path Tuesday, Jan. 10. Riverside officials hope to stop people from using unauthorized trails.
STAN LIM, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

By ALICIA ROBINSON / STAFF WRITER

Prolonged drought, winter storms and renegade hikers have given Riverside’s iconic Mount Rubidoux a rough go in recent years.

Dry weather and activities off the paved trails kill plants in the popular park. Heavy rains then wash away rocks and dirt, eroding the mountain.

Now the city wants to fix the damage and also restore the defunct waterfall and grotto known as St. Francis Falls on the mountain’s north side.

Using a state grant and money from a city historic preservation fund, Riverside officials plan to hire a consultant to design and engineer repairs to trails and the falls. Amenities for cyclists using the Santa Ana River trail by nearby Carlson Park, such as benches, bike racks and a water fountain, also would be part of the project.

Riverside aims to fix Mount Rubidoux’s trail troubles – Press Enterprise


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Old aerial photos of Mount Rubidoux show visitors have been venturing off the official trails for years, city trails coordinator Alisa Sramala said.

In the past five years, the biggest problem has been the drought and lack of vegetation. Because of those, when hikers trample young plants that aren’t well-established, they leave bare dirt with nothing to hold it in place, she said.

The city put up signs warning people to stay off illegal trails, but the flexible plastic markers were easy to destroy and most didn’t last, said City Councilman Mike Gardner, whose ward includes the mountain.

Heading off trail also can be dangerous for hikers, who may get hurt or stuck.

In the first half of 2016, firefighters rescued about 15 people, including a 7-year-old girl who was hospitalized after a 30-foot fall. In 2013, a man was trapped between boulders for two days in an isolated area before firefighters came to his aid.

Realistically, there’s no way to keep everyone on paved paths, Gardner said, so officials will look at where people are trying to go and the best way to get there. The consultant would help the city evaluate which unofficial trails should be restored and replanted and which could be shored up so they’re safe and sustainable.

“I think we want to continue to give people the experience of getting off the asphalt trail because that’s part of the beauty of Mount Rubidoux,” Sramala said.

But officials also want to protect the mountain for all its visitors.

Restoration efforts also could take into account the park’s popularity as a rock-climbing spot, Gardner said.

Riverside resident William Morales, 24, said he likes climbing at Mount Rubidoux because it’s historic and nearby. Some of the best-known climbing parks restrict where users can go to protect the environment, he said, adding that such rules would be sensible.

Riverside aims to fix Mount Rubidoux’s trail troubles – Press Enterprise


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“If (people) want to keep going there, we’ve got to take care of the place,” he said.

Lorena Higbee, 19, was walking the mountain with a friend Wednesday and was carrying 5-pound hand weights.

“I stick to the paved path. I’m mostly here for exercise, not for sightseeing,” the Riverside resident said.

She said she could understand why the city would want to keep hikers on approved trails, but “I feel like people are going to do it anyway.”

The Riverside City Council will vote Tuesday on spending $87,941 to hire a consultant to design mountain improvements. Work likely will be done in stages over the next 12-18 months using some volunteer labor, Sramala said.

 

 

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