Hans (El Presidente) and I, along with some other dedicated Concerned Off Road Bicyclists Association (CORBA) volunteers have been working with the Angeles National Forest Service (ANF) over the past year on an exciting new project. Last year we submitted a proposal to the ANF to build not only a new trail, but a new type of trail for the Forest.

We're happy to announce that the proposal was approved in January. The Chilao/Mt. Hillyer area is already a popular destination for mountain bikers, hikers, and rock-climbers. The Forest Service and CORBA see this trail as helping meet a growing demand within the community of trail users, and especially the increasing needs of mountain bikers.

The "Rock & Rail Trail", as the new trail will be officially known, will be approximately 1 mile long, running from near the summit of Mt. Hillyer northward to near the junction of the Santa Clara Divide Trail and the existing Mt. Hillyer Trail. This will make it easy to do loops of the trail and to "session" it's features.

CORBA's new trail proposal included mountain bike specific features such as log rides, bermed turns, boulder gardens, granite slick-rock, teeter-totters, log bridges, drops and jumps. While it will be designated as a multi-use trail, the trail has been designed by mountain bikers as a technical skill-building trail.

Trail features will be optional and graded in difficulty, allowing riders to gradually build up their skills. Signs will indicate advanced or difficult lines, intermediate options, and alternative bypasses for beginners and other trail users.

Hans and I have spent many hours hiking around Mount Hillyer looking for rocks, logs and other natural objects to be incorporated into the trail. The Forest Service has been very helpful and cooperative throughout the process.

The existing Mt. Hillyer Trail will also benefit from the proposal. We asked for and received permission to enhance the existing trail by adding features and more challenging lines. These will not significantly change the existing main trail, but will provide alternative lines and routes, some easier, some more difficult.

For the construction we will only use naturally occurring materials from the forest. This means ladders and wooden structures will only be built from existing downed trees and logs, which we have permission to utilize. We will be able to use fasteners such as screws, bolts and nails, etc. as needed. We anticipate a lot of rock armoring and chainsaw work to shape the fallen trees.

CORBA will need to raise approximately $82,000 in grants and donations to fund the project. Several grant applications have already been submitted and are being considered, and CORBA has committed $6500 from its general fund, and an additional $1000 has been received in private donations. The funds will be used to purchase tools, materials, machinery, fuel, signage, a kiosk and for other expenses involved in the construction. We hope to break ground on the trail in fall 2008, and be riding it next spring and summer.

CORBA has a good working relationship with the Angeles National Forest Service and many other land managers, having put in many thousands of person-hours of trail maintenance. We're excited to go one step further, into trail-building within the ANF.

It is our hope that with this ongoing partnership between the Angeles National Forest Service and the mountain biking community, we'll be able to get permission to build more legal multi-use trails with mountain bike specific features and mountain biker's needs in mind. We hope to thereby show other land managers our capabilities and what is possible when we all work together. This is a small first step, but an important one.

You can make a tax-deductible donation to the Mount Hillyer Project through Paypal on the http://www.corbamtb.com web site, or by mailing a check to CORBA, P.O. Box 57576, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413 (Note Mt. Hillyer Project in the memo). You can also register CORBA as a designated charity for your Ralph's card. CORBA will then receive a small donation from Ralphs for every purchase you make. Just click on the Ralphs link on the CORBA web site to register your card.

We also invite everyone to come out and contribute a few hours of your time once construction is underway.

For news and updates on the Mount Hillyer Project go to: http://www.corbamtb.com