ALTADENA (CBSLA.com) — Citing public health and safety concerns, portions of Eaton Canyon will be closed to hikers and climbers this summer.
The U.S. Forest Service made the announcement Wednesday and said only a small portion of the popular destination would be affected.
The San Gabriel Mountains trail known as Upper Falls is steep and rugged and a challenge to even the most-experienced climber. Therein lies the problem.
Many take the challenge and can’t finish. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service said that in 2012 alone, there were over 60 rescues.
“That’s too many,” Sherry Rollman told reporters.
The trail was made even more popular by YouTube videos that often show the picturesque trail end, complete with waterfalls befitting a postcard, but not the arduous journey to get there and back.
Police, fire and rescue agencies met and decided a closure was in order.
KCAL9’s Brittney Hopper said the fact people have died on the trail — five since 2011 — made the decision an easy one for authorities.
“It might be an exciting thrill,” she reported. “But it’s costing lives and taxpayer dollars.”
“I mean, it’s helicopters nonstop probably three to four times a week sometimes,” avid hiker Rob Osborn said of the many rescues he’s witnessed.
“It’s not a designated trail. It’s very steep … very dangerous, and we’ve lost a lot of lives up there and because of that we are doing the closure,” said Nathan Judy of the Angeles National Forest.
Once at the falls, many have been hurt jumping from high terrain into the water below.
“It’s up to the person if they decide they want to jump or not. They shouldn’t close it down,” one hiker said.
The Lower Falls will remain open, authorities said.
Once the Upper trail is closed, officials told Hopper, if hikers try to access the restricted area they could be fined up to $5,000 and sentenced to six months in jail.
Rob Osborn is hoping that fewer people will be hurt.
“People hike at their own risk,” he said, “but at the same time, it’s coming out of our own pocket.”
A date has not been set for when that area will officially be closed, Hopper reported.