Nearly two years after the Soberanes Fire, some Big Sur hiking trails are still closed. The fire and following mudslides left major damage. But this Saturday, one popular trail is reopening.
Wearing a blue hoodie with a logo for California State Parks, John Hiles walks up the Soberanes Creek Trail in Garrapata State Park. He steps over caution tape strung across the dirt path.
“So starting Saturday morning, that will be removed and people will be able to freely access the Soberanes Creek Trail,” Hiles says.
Hiles is the Monterey District Maintenance Chief for State Parks.
“This trail had multiple, multiple issues; one being a handful of trees that came down across the trail. Those had to get removed. The upper portion of the canyon did burn during the Soberanes Fire and we lost a lot of our retaining structures,” says Hiles.
To fix the Soberanes Creek Trail, crews had to hike nearly two miles carrying out downed trees. Then they had to bring in materials to rebuild what burned. That included reconstructing steps and retaining walls. State Park’s Jesse Reyes says it was a lot of hard work.
“Carrying lumber was definitely hard and just carrying the equipment out there as well, like tools and what not, it's just definitely hard on your body. We had some couple of hot days and then we also had a lot of rain. So that made it difficult as well with you know footing,” says Reyes.
Trail crews from State Parks and the American Conservation Experience have been working since February to reopen the Soberanes Creek Trail. It cost State Parks about $140,000 to get the trail ready for the public. The agency still has eight hiking trails to repair. They remain closed from fire and storm damage.
State Parks identified $14 million in total damages to their trails, roads, campgrounds and water systems in Big Sur over the past two years.
State Parks provided this list of closed trails/areas:
Rocky Ridge – Garrapata
Gates 8 -10 – Garrapata (under construction)
Parking lot to campground and campground to beach – Andrew Molera
Seasonal closure for trails on the west side of the Big Sur River in Andrew Molera (seasonal bridges are closed because of winter river levels)
Pfeiffer Falls Trail
Pine Ridge – Pfeiffer Big Sur
Tanbark – Julia Pfeiffer Burns
Tinhouse Road – Julia Pfeiffer Burns
Ewoldsen Trail – Julia Pfeiffer Burns