Black Mountain/Black Widow Trail
SDMBA continues its strong alliance with the proud team of rangers at Black Mountain. While the 2017 build season was a bit of a bust due to a lack of sustained moisture, we want to make you aware of the following successes and subsequent plans:
- The final resolution has been reached on the arsenic exposure on Miner’s Ridge during the late spring of this year. The Ranger staff has installed a couple short sections of gravel filled road mats that effectively keep the highest concentration of dirt contained. All legal trails on Black Mountain are now open for use.
- First official flagging of the new Black Widow alignment will begin in late summer. The final plan was approved in March of 2018 but the nesting season for the California Gnatcatcher, a federally protected bird, began during the same month so, no building or flagging was allowed. Now that the nesting season is nearing the end, some corridor brushing may occur in the fall with the major work conducted once the wet season (build season) arrives. Watch for upcoming announcements.
- Formal trails requests will be submitted to the city this summer to extend the Manzanita Loop to the north and also include a connector to the valley below on the north side of the open space, a connector to the east side on Cuca Street from Manazinta, and a new alignment out of Hilltop park to replace the very eroded service road leading straight up the hill.
- A new alliance has been formed between the Estate’s HOA (Mansion estate homes directly north of the Miner’s Ridge parking lot) and the Black Mountain Trail liaison. The Estates are seeking trails to link up their property with Black Mountain. An alignment that will start in the bottom of Lusardi and wind its way through the community, ultimately ending at the bottom of the Carmel Valley Rd bridge/Ahwee trail is being looked at. The HOA is on board and SDMBA and the HOA is actively working with the city for permitting of the portion of the trail that crosses into Open Space land. This will be a great replacement for the original Lusardi climb lost to the construction of the Estate homes.
- Senior Ranger Ed Christensen is looking to start the Lusardi Management Plan. While no immediate time plans have been developed, ideas explored include:
- Replacing the steep service road along the western side of the Lusardi loop with a contoured single track to create a better grade for climbing and descending
- Additional trails in Lusardi Canyon Proper to take advantage of the terrain
- Bike skills park adjacent to the Black Mountain Ball fields
- New single track approach to Doug Hill to eliminate inadvertent trespassing on the private residence land
Keep your eyes opens for announcements of upcoming events as the build season arrives. All the trails on Black Mountain are 100% volunteer created and we can use all the help you can provide.
Update - August 15, 2017
In the winter of 2017-18, trail work will start up again at Black Mountain. All work is dependent on rainfall. One project will be a connector from the top of the Manzanita Loop trail down the east side of the hill to connect to Cuca Street close to Penasquitos Elementary School. The final route has not been approved yet but it is part of the master plan. The other major project is the west side scar tentatively labeled as Black Widow. A plan has been designed to incorporate some of the original line while creating a sustainable trail with reinforced turns and lesser grades to make the trail multi-directional. The plan has conditional approval and is awaiting formal approval from the City of San Diego. The park staff is regularly contacting the city to work out a plan. We are optimistically looking at late 2017/early 2018. Finally, there is a plan to look for a continuation north of the Manzanita Trail and ultimately connect to the new communities in the valley south of Oak Valley Middle School.
Trail Design and Construction on Black Mountain
In early 2010 a task force was formed to update the Black Mountain Open Space Park master plan. Working with the community and trail users, Rod Simmons and Senior Ranger Ed Christensen walked the surrounding hills to find optimal routes to take advantage of the terrain. The process would involve multiple agencies and a great amount of review. It took nearly 5 years for the master plan update was completed in 2014. It included proposals for nearly 10 miles of trails, acquisition of private land, and several new trail heads to accommodate the ever growing user base.
Starting November 2014, the first new trail construction began with the start of the Lilac Canyon trail. It would connect the Glider Port parking lot with the Miner’s Ridge trailhead parking lot. In early 2015, the Awhee trail linking the Lilac Canyon to the Black Mountain Open Space Ball Fields was built. The event was supported by 120 volunteers and the 7/8th mile trail was completed in one day. These two trails removed all trail users from the nearby Carmel Valley Road, greatly increasing safety and the user experience. In May of 2015, City Council Member Mark Kersey, Black Mountain Ranger Staff, City Open Space Representatives, and Trail Leads Rod Simmons and Matt Bartelt, hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony officially opening the trail segments to public use. Both trails received high praise for their design and functionality. For the first time, users could circumvent Black Mountain without ever leaving a trail.
The following fall/winter of 2016 the trails on the East Ridge of Black Mountain were started. Utilizing American Conservation Experience (A.C.E), the corridors were cleared in anticipation of a large trail build season. Starting in December and meeting every Saturday until early April, 2016, over 250 different volunteers representing all facets of the trail user community hiked with tools to the trail build site. By the end of the build season, another 2 ½ miles of single track were added, allowing better access to the East Ridge trail complex.
Future Plans -
The spring of 2016 saw the start of the East Ridge trail complex. A large parcel of private property was acquired in 2016 allowing for an expansion of the park into a solid piece of land rather than several smaller noncontiguous parcels. Along with this new land, there are four more trails remaining to be built. Once completed, there will be two stacked loops, a climbing trail from the communities to the north, and a new trail head and trail connecting the communities on the east side of the park.
Black Mountain FAQ’s -
Miner’s Ridge Arsenic Closure (early 2017) - Many of you have seen or heard about the closure of the Miner’s Ridge trail due to high levels of arsenic in the soil. There seems to be a lot of confusion over the closure. While it is important to observe the temporary closures, most of the trails on the mountain were not affected by this closure, and with a little creativity, a counter-clockwise loop can still be achieved. All users will have to use the Glider Port trail which is quite rugged and steep but with a little practice, some skill, and maybe a little luck, a no-dab descent is possible.