So for the last couple of weeks I have been out exploring and researching the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT) here in San Diego County. The history of this trail dates back to 1945 when the state legislature passed the California Riding and Hiking Trails Act which called for a 3,000 mile multi-use loop trail between Oregon and Mexico. The 3,000 miles never happened but over 1,000 miles did get built/designated. Here in San Diego county there is about 108 miles of the trail with only 76 of being used. A portion of those 76 miles are having legal/access issues as some land-owners (not just private but other government agencies) are denying access to the public right of way easements. It is worth noting that the County Parks and Recreation Department has officially put this trail into its Master Trails Plan. Most of my research has been using their official GIS data on where they recognize the trails to be. There are some deltas between their data and the current and/or historical trail that can actually be found. The trail segments vary in quality from sublimely superb to completely obliterated by pavement. There is a lot more to tell here and I hope to gather up and publish some of the information on the various segment issues in the future.
The trail passes through some of the trail systems that I have reviewed on the site. The Otay Mountain Loop, Hollenbeck Canyon, Cuyamaca State Park, and Oriflamme Canyon Loop reviews all have a segments of the CRHT passing through them. The Warner Springs area has been my latest bit of on the ground research on the CRHT route.
There are still bits to the original trail (as intended) still in use and accessible.
Back in the 1940s and 1950s when many of the section were designated that used old truck trails, cattle routes and farm roads as the trail. That might have been okay back then but as civilization came along some of those truck trails and farm roads have been widened and paved making them completely worthless as a trail. It seems that there was never any mitigation made to reroute the trail. Pictured above here is an old chapel that is still on a dirt road that the CRHT uses.
Lost Valley Road (Which on some maps is called Lost Creek Road) is one of those segments where the CRHT used this dirt road that has since been paved (still single wide) and the trail was not rerouted. This would be a nice dirt road climb with good views of the valley below.
The picture above is of the gate on the CRHT that uses the abandoned section of Lost Valley Road. A 1/2 mile up the CRHT the PCT joins onto the CRHT. Now keeping in mind that bicycles are allowed on the CRHT there is a bit of interesting co-use going on. For 9/10ths of a mile the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) uses the CRHT trail as its route and of course all of the PCT signage says “NO BIKES”. Now the Pacific Crest Trail was not established until 1968 a full 23 years after the CRHT. This is not the only place were PCT co-use antics occur. Up in the San Gabriel mountains, a 1/4mile section of the PCT was rerouted onto the Burkhart trail (a nice long open to bikes single-track) and the PCT folks tried to close that 1/4th mile section of the Burkhart trail to bikes. It is complete onsense.
Here is a view along the section of the 9/10ths of a miles of the CRHT discussed above.
A fair portion of the CRHT route in this area sees far to much of this action. Landowners illegally denying access to a public right of way easement. The CRHT uses the dirt road pictured above but the Vista Irrigation District has removed all of the CRHT trail signs and has locked the gates.
This is just one of the tasty bits of trail that these landowners are attempting to deny the public access too. I’m going to publish more information in the future as I gather it up. In the interim here is a Google Earth file (KML) extracted from the San Diego County GIS data base. It also has some additional data in it and is what I consider a working document.