Here's What LA's Hiking Trails Looked Like On Saturday

Most people on the trail in Griffith Park seemed to be wearing masks today (although we did not conduct a scientific or statistically significant survey). (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Josie Huang and Chava Sanchez contributed to this story.

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It's the first day that trails in L.A. have been open since mid-March, when the county shut them down due to over-crowding. Social distancing and masks are required for all hikers and the mayor said rangers will be out to monitor the situation.

LAist reporter Josie Huang headed to Eaton Canyon, the popular waterfall hike in Altadena, which opened this morning at 8:30. The parking lot was full, even though an outdated temporary closure sign remained taped onto the entrance sign.

Huang spoke with Jessica Richards, a therapist from Pasadena, who turned around at the trailhead after seeing groups of four and five hikers taking up the width of the trail, making it nearly impossible to maintain six-feet of social distance.

"Given just the volume of people and the manner in which they were hiking, I didn't feel like it was safe to enjoy this trail that I've been so desperately wanting to enjoy again," Richards said.

Jessica Richards decided not to hike after seeing lots of people at the trailhead with not enough room to pass each other safely. (Josie Huang/LAist)
Signs from L.A. County posted at the trailhead for Eaton Canyon. (Josie Huang/LAist)

She wishes the county had given more direction on social distancing before reopening.

"I think it was open too early without appropriate guidance to the public," she said. "We need to really be smart about social distancing, even put out guidelines about, for example, [walking in] single-file lines, rather than abreast."

Hikers enjoy the creek at Eaton Canyon on May 9, the first day hiking trails in L.A. County re-opened for use after about a month of closures, due to concerns about Covid-19. (Josie Huang/LAist)
Small crowds formed this morning at Eaton Canyon, a popular waterfall trail in Altadena, CA. (Josie Huang/LAist)

LAist visual journalist Chava Sanchez headed to Griffith Park around 10 a.m. He said most of the people there were wearing masks, and social distancing as best as they could, considering that — like Eaton Canyon — not all the trails are wide enough to maintain a six-foot distance from other hikers.

He said there was some enforcement at the trailheads, but none on the actual trails.

"Traffic officers were at the entrance to the park, making sure people were wearing masks," Sanchez said. "Although once on the trails, some hikers did not adhere to the rules and took them off."

Hikers on Saturday morning do the impossible dance of trying to stay six-feet apart on a two-foot wide path. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
Two women walk their dogs in the newly reopened Griffith Park on Saturday. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Mayor Garcetti said in his Friday address that there aren't enough city employees to monitor the hundreds of miles of trails in L.A., especially in large areas such as Griffith Park, Elysian Park and Hansen Dam. But he trusts the public to use common sense.

"It's also not our vision to make this like a junior high school dance, with people saying, 'You're too close to each other,'" he said, advising that everyone use their best judgment. "If it's too crowded, maybe wait until midweek."

Karen Foshay, of partner station KCET, headed to Temescal Canyon on the westside around 8 this morning. She said the trails there were surprisingly empty, with only a few cars in the parking lot. Most people, she said, were also wearing masks.

One perk of closing trails for a month? Nature creeping back onto the paths. Foshay said parts of the trail were covered in overgrown grass and wildflowers. There was even a rabbit sighting.

Hikers at the trailhead in Temescal Canyon, May 8 2020 (Karen Foshay/KCET)
Temescal Canyon was full of wild flowers from recent rains and a lack of visitors, since trails have been closed for a month. (Karen Foshay/KCET)
Hikers heading to Temescal Canyon trails early this morning. The parking lot is emptier than usual. (Karen Foshay/KCET)

Trail counters won't be installed this weekend, but they've been ordered and are expected to arrive in the next week or two, the mayor said. If many people are violating the rules, the city will cut off admissions to the trails. "But I hope this weekend will be a good experiment," Garcetti said.

City officials said the Department of Transportation will be on the ground to control traffic in crowded areas, with the help of LAPD, including some units on horseback.

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