The folks responsible for the recent remodeling of the entrance way to the Westridge Trailhead have raised the bar for Los Angeles. Getty, which erected the vanilla Kenter entrance, is humbled in comparison.
In fact, this is the first really attractive trail entrance ever built. It’s always been a mystery to me as to why we would drive up a beautiful residential street and then dead-end into a dilapidated wire mesh fence or a white metal road block – and there would be the “grand entrance” to a world class trail.
I suppose that either no one wanted to pay for it or the neighbors like the low profile. Sort of reverse of the Field of Dreams – don’t build it and no one will come.
At some point, however, the balance has to be found between the fact that the world does, indeed, know about the spot and the consideration that we may as well make the attraction an asset.
There’s no doubt that the old Westridge Trailhead was in desperate need of improvement. One of the more popular trails on the Westside, it previously greeted visitors like an unfriendly barricade. In order to enter the trailhead, you had to either climb over the low metal barrier or slip sideways through a narrow gap that had a dangerous bolt sticking out that regularly jabbed innocent folks on the thigh. Lots of hikes started or ended with a Charlie-horse.
All of that junky why-was-it-ever –here-in-the-first place clutter is gratefully gone. Instead, there is what looks like an artsy Knott’s Berry Farm wrought iron fence with a separate pedestrian walkway and a proud “Westridge Trail” arched overhead. The wrought iron has little posts with decorative rocks incorporated into the design and the whole affair is framed out in stone work. It may seem a little cute, but, in comparison, it is a major upgrade.
Just beyond the gate, the land has been cleared and broadened into what the rumor mill reports may be a parking area. The state park kiosk has been relocated to the left side (where it should have always been) and the base of the steep slope has been trimmed in timber – which also puts a damper on the mountain bikers launching themselves down the hill. Of course, the concern is that if there are gates there may be locks and restrictions – a topic for a different story.
A lot of work went into this effort and it is an aesthetic hallmark for the rest of town. The Santa Ynez trailhead, for example, is a virtually unmarked narrow gate with a trash can at its entrance. Trailer Canyon is virtually invisible, El Medio and Bienvenida are like secrets and Los Liones is improved, but still looks like an after-thought.
The top of Kenter was the last, and only, recent trailhead improvement, and the gates are exactly what they look like: a device to keep folks out rather than invite them in. The state and county have major investments in maintaining these trails. Access doesn’t have to be fancy, but it would be nice if they were at least a little welcoming.Fearless readers interested in free Monday and Wednesday night hikes may contact Scott Regberg at (310) 475-5735.