ALTADENA (CBSLA.com) — The U.S. Forest Service Wednesday announced that due to health and safety concerns, a portion of Eaton Canyon will close to hikers this week.
Beginning Aug. 1, the closure will affect a small area of about 84-acres within the San Gabriel Mountains, including the trail known as Upper Falls, officials said.
However, authorities report that access will remain open to the Lower Falls area of the canyon.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, the treacherous climb on user-created trails in the upper canyon are known to be a steep and dangerous effort that often causes hikers to become lost, trapped or injured.
Visitors are reportedly enticed by social media video challenges to search for this area, risking their own lives as well as the lives of emergency responders, authorities said.
Despite the efforts of local and federal agencies, officials said, hikers ignore warning signs and continue to attempt the climb, causing a cycle of medical emergencies and rescues that have cost taxpayers thousands of dollars.
According to authorities, there have been a number of injuries, rescues and deaths associated with the trails leading hikers to the waterfall areas.
Forest officials stressed that they do not maintain these user-created trails and reported over 60 rescues in 2012 and five deaths since 2011 in that specific area.
Authorities hope to change the behavior of hikers who to place themselves and emergency responders in danger.
Forest officials said they will continue to enhance public awareness by posting new signs and educating visitors on the dangers associated with ignoring the closure.
Police, fire and safety officials originally met in June and decided a closure was in order but did not release a start date at that time.
The closure is a joint enforcement effort between the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Forest Service Law Enforcement officials.
Hikers who violate the closure may be fined up to $5,000 and could face six months in jail.