Malibu hiking trails slowly recovering after Woolsey Fire

MALIBU, Calif. (KABC) -- The effects of the Woolsey Fire were devastating, one of the most destructive fires to hit Los Angeles County.

And that includes the closure of hiking trails in the Santa Monica Mountains.

With 154,000 acres, it's known to be one of the largest urban hiking parks in the world. Much of it is now destroyed by fire.

"We sustained a lot of damage, particularly our trails and some other facilities," said Craig Sean Sap, superintendent of Angeles District.

In Malibu, La Jolla trail, Nicholas Flats and Leo Carillo are also closed, as are Winding Way and the Zuma Ridge Trail. Regan, Peter Strauss and Paramount Ranch suffered entire burnovers. Malibu Creek park also experienced loss.

"It burned up pretty good," Sap said.

Malibu Creek Park is now open for recreation but no camping is allowed. Sap says it takes time to assess the damage in such a broad area.

"Whether it be National Parks Service, Mountain and Recreation Conservation Authority, they just hadn't gone out and looked at those facilities for those trails to see if they're safe to reopen," said Sap.

When you do finally hit the trails, the park service would like you to literally stay on them. Don't wander off because they're more dangerous than you think.

"The glue of the hillside is the trees and the bush and the deep-rooted growth. When those have been removed you do get continuous hill slides or rock fall. If you get a wind to occur that can move rocks and then you have rain that we have over the next couple months. We do ask that when people do come here that they stay on the trails. We don't want the trails to become wider, we don't want to create new trails," said Sap.

The sturdy Mediterranean vegetation won't grow if the ground is packed hard from hikers and they want plants to return to not only beautify and secure the trails but also help wildlife.

"If you come here early you maybe would've seen 20 deer walking around in various areas and they are recovering and they are coming back," said Sap.

Since the recreation areas are managed by a handful of agencies, he suggests googling your favorite trail to find out if it's OK and open for hiking.
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