Nearly a decade of planning — the collaboration of city, county and state agencies and utilities with local residents and members of the La Cañada Flintridge Trails Council — came to a victorious close Saturday as the ribbon was cut on a trail completing a 12-mile trail loop that weaves through the city and into nearby foothill locations. The loop will provide further access to a trail network whose total distance measures more than 26 miles.
The Trails Council Link, named after the local association of nature-loving locals that helped guide the effort, constitutes a roughly 800-foot stretch of pathway connecting Verdugo Boulevard and Descanso Drive. Hikers, bicyclists and equestrians can now cross the 210 Freeway heading south to access trails along the Cherry Canyon and east to Hahamongna Watershed Park. Finishing this particular stretch presented difficulties that added years to the overall project, said La Cañada City Councilman Greg Brown.
“This is truly an exciting day for the city and for the many folks who helped make this happen after a 10-year journey to close the gap,” said Brown. “It’s like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle or breaking the tape on a marathon.”
Saturday’s dedication joined residents, city and county staff members as well as local politicos, including Brown, Mayor Don Voss and Councilman Steve Del Guerico. State Sen. Carol Liu and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), whose offices helped negotiate the completion of the link and similar projects, came to the ceremony with official commendations to mark the occasion. Assemblyman and former La Cañada Mayor Anthony Portantino described how he became acquainted with the project when he first ran for the Council in 1999.
“To learn about this rich history and the Trails Council, which fought so hard for so long, and to see (the link) come to fruition like this has been tremendous,” Portantino said.
Brown led the dedication’s long thank-you list, describing completion of the Trails Council Link as “a mountain of work” that took years of meetings, studies and approvals from various agencies and residents. He recognized members of the LCF Trails Council, including past Presidents Mary Barrie and Randy Strapazon as well as current Council President Debbie Tinkham.
Brown also acknowledged the efforts of city staff, grants supported by Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich and the cooperation of Southern California Edison, which owned part of the land. Local science teacher Patricia Campeau was officially recognized for donating part of her land to the effort.
Now that the Trails Council Link is open, supporters hope residents and visitors take advantage of the circuit as an opportunity to further enjoy La Cañada and its nearby parks and foothills.
“We have such a beautiful natural area and this (link) gives people a way to get out into the mountains,” said Trails Council member Ted Stork. “We’re very lucky to have over 26-odd miles of trails. Trails give you freedom and get you away from the urban feeling of Los Angeles.”
La Cañada High School senior and Junior Trails Council member Derick Abedian, who helped pass out T-shirts and cake to Saturday’s celebrants, developed a love of hiking through the LCHS Institute for the 21st Century, which required members to participate in local hikes. “I think it’s a form of unity for our city to have people come out and walk the trails. It’s something everybody can enjoy,” Abedian said.
La Cañada residents Robert and Isabel Sainburg came out to celebrate the loop, which runs along their own yard, and to support their daughter, Estrella, who is on the Junior Trails Council. The couple posed next to a trail map on display as Portantino graciously snapped a picture with their cell phone.
Robert Sainburg said he is glad the link will expand residents’ access to the trail network so that more people could enjoy the beauty of the city and surrounding areas.
“Nature — it’s what keeps La Cañada La Cañada,” Sainburg said.
On May 7, the Trails Council will host the 18th Annual Trail Hike and Information Day, which welcomes equestrians, cyclists, hikers and their families to come out to the Trails Council Link across from the Descanso Gardens parking lot. In addition to enjoying the trails, participants can enjoy children’s activities, T-shirts and refreshments and can get information for their own self-guided hike. The event takes place from 9 a.m. to noon.