MALIBU (CBSLA) — Hikers are eager to get back to their favorite trails in the Santa Monica Mountains, but park rangers say it will be a while before the area that burned in the Woolsey Fire is safe for visitors.
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation area includes more than 150,000 acres of diverse geography, from Malibu’s beaches to rocky, winding cliffs and hillsides. National Park Service Ranger Ana Beatriz shared several images of the scorched mountain range in a Facebook post, asking for patience from visitors eager to return to their favorite trails.
The images showed the charred remains of a bridge at Trancas Canyon surrounded by blackened hills and trails, steps leading up to Sandstone Peak that looked like charcoal speckled with fire retardant, and once-green hills in Malibu looking more like an otherworldly scene from a post-apocalyptic movie. One image of Ramirez Canyon showed its pre-fire greenery and its post-fire resemblance to a Mars landscape.
“There’s no other way to put it: this was a devastating fire,” Beatriz wrote in the post.
Last month’s nearly 97,000-acre Woolsey Fire devastated the area, burning 88 percent of the National Park Service acres within its boundaries and destroying several landmarks, including most of Western Town at Paramount Ranch, the 1926 Peter Strauss Ranch home, a National Park/UCLA research center and two ranger residences. The Woolsey Fire burned more acres within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area than any other fire in recorded history, according to the National Park Service.
With 500 miles of trails, National Park Service rangers say they have received many inquiries about when some of the more popular ones will reopen, but park rangers say its not a question they can answer yet.
According to the National Park Service, roughly half of the 67-mile Backbone trail that traverses the peaks of the Santa Monica Mountains has burned, along with many more miles of trails and their support facilities at trailheads, such as toilets, barrier fencing and informational signs.
Paramount Ranch, Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa, Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyons and the Santa Monica Mountains Visitor Center at King Gillette Ranch are open to the public, but all other National Park Service trails and parks remain closed.