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Monday, December 1, 2008

A Look at the Little-Known California Hiking and Riding Trail

2/17/2005, excepted here. For full story:

By Ann Compton

Not so very long ago, the Pony Express linked the many emerging communities burgeoning in California, providing communications as well as travel routes. Today, the Pony Express would not be allowed on either public or private lands. Concessionaire contracts would be eliminated just as mining, grazing, timber and recreation have been. In spite of legislation passed establishing the California Riding and Hiking Trails project in 1944, proponents of recreational trails riding are still fighting an uphill battle.

The struggle for trail rights turned personal for Kathleen Hayden in 1994 when, near her home in Warner Springs, an original piece of Spanish Land Grant was fenced along Highway S2 – right over the California Hiking and Riding Trail posts. “It was a real shock to see not only the fencing, but ‘no trespassing’ signs posted right over the official signage,” recalls Kathleen. Her letter to the State Parks Department requesting information elicited only a vague comment that the trail was “maintained within park boundaries.”...

The recommendation to the legislature was for a 3000-mile trail, extending from San Ysidro in San Diego County, north through the Tehachapi Mountains and Sierra Nevada to the Oregon line, and returning southward through the Coastal Range. The Division of Beaches and Parks then initiated a statewide survey of existing trails and proposed trail sites. During initial meetings, the Riding and Hiking Trails Advisory Committee recommended that the trail route should be determined by local interest. The original 1945 Act provided funds to begin the project. By 1955, 29 of the 38 counties on the proposed route submitted plans approved by the State Park Commission. In addition, the trail was to be constructed by state park personnel and built through contracts with private firms and the U.S. Forest Service. A system of overnight camps were begun, with the units planned to be spaced 15-20 miles apart, with facilities consisting of stoves, tables, water, sanitation and corrals...

In the 1955 legislative session, the CRHT Act was amended to permit the establishment and construction of secondary trails to provide better use and access from communities to the Trail. Statewide, 1060 miles of the CRHT had been completed by the early 1960’s. The project was running out of money and the state’s emphasis shifted toward the creation of trails near urban centers. By 1966, the prevailing feeling about the trail was that a state loop trail was not in the entire state’s best interest and a determination was made to develop a series of local loop trails to serve more people. Though never finished, the now historic CRHT still serves as one of California’s earliest and most successful models of trailbuilding on a county, regional and statewide scale. The CRHT Association advocates Historic Status to commemorate and preserve this gem of California.

In 1974 the CRHT Act was repealed, amended and renamed to read “California Recreational Trails Act.”...


For more on California Trails:

a hiking blog for socal

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