I don’t often have the opportunity to do day hikes, especially with Monday and Wednesday evenings committed to our regular bi-weekly evening hiking adventures. (We’ve been hiking on Monday and Wednesday nights for so long that I often wonder what the rest of the world could possibly be doing between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. on those evenings.)
However, with the recent shift in weather, last Saturday morning was too perfect not to go exploring. Overcast and cool, with a slight breeze – ideal conditions.
It wasn’t a big hike: a jaunt starting at the top of Kenter, just beyond the imposing security gates, and north toward Mountain Gate. The top of Kenter is a trailhead that has been fraught with controversy for years. Not widely used by many hikers, it is mostly enjoyed by neighborhood locals, dog walkers and a goodly number of mountain bikers. Because of the steepness of the residential hill leading up to the entrance, most folks who walk or bike up there drive up and park in front of the homes that line the street – which is only one small part of the conflict.
About ten years ago, there was costly litigation brewing between the local homeowners and the developers of the then-proposed mansions just west and below the Kenter ridgeline. the driving issue was the use of Kenter, which is functionally a deadend, as an open passageway to the new development. The biggest fear for locals was that the quiet residential hillside would become an access way from Mountain Gate and the Valley. Ultimately, the spur off of Kenter connecting to the new development became an emergency road only. The big homes were slowly built with an entranceway on Mandeville, the Governor moved in, and its been fairly peaceful on that score.
The next big challenge was that local homeowners were targeted occasionally by mischief makers. Bits of graffiti, late night ribaldry, and more, triggered complaints to the owners of the undeveloped land and trails – the Getty. To avoid potential liability and to reign-in the problem, the huge security gates went-up, restricting night use after 8 p.m.
Now, there are proposals for additional gating further up the trail that has everyone up in arms, locals, hikers and trail enthusiasts alike. I’m not aware of lawsuits filed yet, but community meetings are being held and the momentum is building to prevent the developer of these newly proposed homes from restricting access to the trails that the community has enjoyed for generations.
I remember well when the top of Kenter was just a relatively obscure local hiking spot. You could take the fire road, or venture up onto ridges with barely another soul in sight – but with a sightline of all of LA. The trail hasn’t changed much, just what different folks want from it.
With a little creativity, Kenter could accomplish what Westridge did so beautifully. The trail is there, it can be an asset or a liability. By applying some broader cooperation it could become even more of a treasure.Readers interested in free Monday and Wednesday night hikes may contact Scott Regberg at (310) 475-5735.