Monday, July 13, 2009

Info on the Cleveland National Forest


Here is a paper that Ashley had written for a class about the Cleveland National Forest

Making Tracks in the Cleveland National Forest

Golden rolling hills, monumental mountains, lush forests of oak and pine trees and seasonal streams, form breath-taking views throughout the 424,000 acres of land, that create the Cleveland National Forest; one of many places people can hike in Southern California. The Cleveland National Forest is divided into three districts; the Palomar District, the Descanso District, and the Trabuco District, which contain a wide variety of plant-life and wildlife as well as some of Southern California's best hiking trails, that are broken down into three levels of difficulty.

The Palomar District, in the San Diego Mountain range, is located in San Diego County. It contains a designated wilderness area, the Agua Tibia Wilderness, which covers 15,934 acres and has roughly 25 miles of established hiking trails (United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service-California). The trails in the Palomar District vary in difficulty from easy to strenuous (very hard), with elevations ranging from 1,700 feet to 5,000 feet (United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service-California). The longest trail in the Palomar District is the Wild Horse Trail with a length of 10.1 miles. One of the most popular trails to hike, in the Palomar District is the Observatory National Recreation Trail that begins at the Palomar Observatory campground and ends at the Palomar Observatory.

The Descanso District, in the Laguna Mountain range, is also located in San Diego County. It contains two designated wilderness areas, the 13,000 acre Pine Creek Wilderness and the 8,000 acre Hauser Wilderness, which contain rugged terrain with boulders, rocks and steep slopes (United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service-California). Trails vary in difficulty from easy to strenuous, with elevations ranging from 2,000 feet to 4,000 feet in the Pine Creek Wilderness and 1,600 feet to 3,700 feet in the Hauser Wilderness (United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service-California). A well traveled hiking trail that extends from the Descanso District to the Palomar District is the southernmost part of the Pacific Crest Trail. It is also the longest trail in the district at 32.1 miles. This trail is the beginning of the entire Pacific Crest Trail, which is 2,627 miles long and stretches from Mexico to Canada (United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service-California).

The Trabuco District, in the Santa Ana Mountain range, is located in Orange and Riverside County. It contains a designated wilderness area, the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness, which is the largest of all the wilderness areas in the Cleveland National Forest at 39,540 acres (United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service-California). The Trabuco District’s elevation ranges from 600 feet to 5,687 feet (U.S. Forest Service Cleveland National Forest). One of the most popular hiking trails in this district is the Holy Jim Canyon Trail that leads up to the top of Santiago Peak, which is the highest peak in the Santa Ana Mountains at 5,687 feet (Angeles Chapter Sierra Club). From the top of Santiago Peak (even though it is covered with radio
communication equipment) it has a spectacular, 360 degree view of all of Orange County, the Pacific Ocean, Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County and San Diego County.

The Cleveland National Forest is home to approximately; 2,900 vascular (sap-carrying) plants, nine native species of fish, 18 amphibians, 61 reptiles, 299 birds and 104 mammals (U.S. Forest Service Cleveland National Forest). Prevalent plant-life that can be found in all three districts are; pine forests, sycamore trees, oak trees, dried weeds, yucca plants, scrub oak, chemise (a type of tall, sprouting plant), coastal sage scrub, holly-berry plants, poison oak, cactus, and many different types of wild flowers (U.S. Forest Service Cleveland National Forest). Additionally, chaparral (small, dense plants that grow into large trees) can be found. Common wildlife that is found in the three districts of the Cleveland National Forest are; mountain lions, black-tailed and white-tailed deer, mule deer, the desert kit fox, gray foxes, bob cats, coyotes, weasels, tree squirrels, brush and cottontail rabbits, jack rabbits, raccoons, moles, skunks, opossums, mice, rats, badgers, and bats (U.S. Forest Service Cleveland National Forest). (Recently, black bears have been spotted in the Palomar District and are believed to be in the process of colonizing that area.) Birds that live in the Cleveland National Forest consist of; ducks and geese, band-tailed pigeons, the California and Mountain quail, Mourning doves and turkeys (U.S. Forest Service Cleveland National Forest). All of these plants and animals have a chance of being seen on any hike in the Cleveland National Forest.

The Cleveland National Forest has sixty-nine established trails (U.S. Forest Service Cleveland National Forest). The trails are used for a variety of recreational activities, but fifty-four of them are restricted to hiking use alone. Each trail is broken down according to its level of difficulty. The first level is easy, the second level is moderate (not too easy and not too hard) and the third level is strenuous (very hard). Easy, moderate and strenuous trails are found in all three districts of the Cleveland National Forest and there are three factors used to determine whether a trail is easy, moderate or strenuous.

The first factor is the trail’s surface; this pertains to the type of ground the hiker walks on. Types of trail surfaces in the Cleveland National Forest consist of; gravel, roots of a tree or plant, imbedded rocks, logs from fallen trees, plants growing on top of the trail, hard packed soil and boulders. The Cleveland National Forest is maintained by the Forest Service (Department of Agriculture), who receives donations from the public (U.S. Forest Service Cleveland National Forest). Boy Scout Troops and other organizations devote time to helping the maintaining of trails. The maintaining of trails dictates what the trail surface will be like on a hike. By maintaining the trails, they are cleared of objects that might injure the hiker. If a trail is mostly clear and smooth, the trail is easy to moderate, but if the trail is covered by plants and rocks, it makes the trail strenuous because the hiker is unable to see the trail surface and has to carefully watch where they step.

The slope of a hill is the second factor, which is also referred to as the grade. If the grade of a hiking trail is 0-20%, it takes less time and energy to hike, making the trail easy (U.S. Forest Service Cleveland National Forest). If the grade is 20.1-30%, the slope is considered to have a
moderate grade, which makes the trail not easy to climb, but not too difficult (U.S. Forest Service Cleveland National Forest). If the trail has a grade of 30.1% or more, the trail is considered strenuous because it takes more time and energy to climb up the hill (U.S. Forest Service Cleveland National Forest). Climbing up a hill takes more time because gravity is pulling the hiker down, whereas walking down a hill, the hiker is not walking against gravity, but rather, being pulled down with gravity, thus increasing the downward speed. Ultimately, the hiker will descend the hill in half the time it takes them to climb up the hill.

A trail's width is the third factor that determines the difficulty level of a trail. In the Cleveland National Forest a trail ranges anywhere from 12 inches wide to 24 inches wide (U.S. Forest Service Cleveland National Forest). The wider a trail is, the easier the trail is. The narrower a trail is, the harder it is for the hiker to maintain their footing and stay focused on the trail ahead, thus resulting in a more strenuous trail.

By evaluating each hiking trail using the three factors-a trail’s surface, the grade, and the width of a trail-the results determine if a trail is easy, moderate or strenuous. Trails are inconsistent throughout a hike, depending on the terrain (hills, valleys and ridgelines). For example, a trail may begin flat, and then all of a sudden, start to have an increased grade because the trail is proceeding up a hill. At the top of the hill, may be a ridgeline, where the trail is narrowed and on both sides of the trail is a steep slope leading down to the valley floor. After the trail ends on the ridgeline, the trail might continue to go up and down more hills, or it might level out-depending on what the terrain ahead is. The Cleveland National Forest has a variety of trails that are easy, moderate and strenuous and determining a trail’s difficulty level will help decide what trails to hike, depending on the person’s physical condition.

Hiking in any of the three districts of the Cleveland National Forest-Palomar, Descanso, or Trabuco-is a great way to get exercise, relax, observe wildlife in their natural habitat, and see scenery that cannot be found in the city. The Cleveland National Forest is a great area to hike for Southern California locals who are looking for a place to ‘escape.’ It offers beautiful scenery that lasts in the memory of anyone who hikes there.


Works Cited
Angeles Chapter Sierra Club. 18A Santiago Peak. Los Angeles, CA: Angeles Chapter Sierra
Club, 2002.
U.S. Forest Service Cleveland National Forest. 13 Nov. 2008. United States Department of
Agriculture Forest Service. 16 Nov. 2008 < http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/cleveland/>.
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service-California. Cleveland National
Forest-America’s Great Outdoors. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Agriculture, 2006.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading your very personal tales on the trails found in this wonderful region of Southern California. We operate a Foundation to preserve these connected areas the encompass sensitive geographic wonders such as the deep arroyos and critical wildlife corridors found in the Western Riverside County section of the Cleveland National Forest. Can you help us get the word out about the innovative tools we are using to conserve these open spaces; Check out our Signs of the Times: National park styled signs packed with sensitvie green technology- signs built to reach out to hikers, bikers and trail blazers to inform them about these critical areas: See our website and help us get donation for more of these signs: www.preservetheplateau.org we need your help.. please feel free to write us at: Info@Linejumpertalent.com thanks .. we are all connected for a better future.

    ReplyDelete

Ashley and I encourage and welcome our readers to submit comments about their experiences on the trails we have posted on our blog or about their own hiking experiences in general.