Santa Clarita Mayor Laurie Ender told residents at City Hall Friday to take a hike. In fact, the entire City Council and staff want their constituents to take a hike.
To make it easier, they’ve launched a new website: hikesantaclarita.com.
“We’ve been asked by members of the public. I know you have this land. How do I get to it? Where does this trail go? Where do I find things? This will now be the universal answer to all of those questions,” said Ender.
Santa Clarita now has 16.4 miles of formal trails for the hiking, biking and equestrian community to enjoy and the goal of the new website is to make more information about the trails easier to access.
Features on the website will include a clickable map with trail information and photos of each of the open space area.
One of the best features, according to self-professed map geek and Santa Clarita Director of Parks and Recreation Rick Gould, is the color coding of trails.
“We’ve begun to code our trail maps based on difficulty not unlike what you would find at a ski area. So you can see obviously the gentle trail is in the blue. The yellow is a little bit more difficult. The red, you’ll get a good hike and be nice and tired for dinner by the time you get home,” said Gould.
Ender joked that even the blue trails might not be “gentle” enough for her.
“I was hoping for the Stroll Santa Clarita dot com. Maybe that’s coming later for people like me who the word hike scares them,” she said.
The website also will also offer information about directions and parking, trail etiquette, photos of a variety of wildlife caught on camera and hiking events.
“This will be a great way for the community to put all of this stuff together so you can find out what’s going on in the hiking, biking and open space world,” Gould said.
The roughly 6200 acres of open space and accompanying trails are available thanks to the 2007 voter approved Open Space Preservation District. The funds come from an assessment on the property tax bill every year.
“It’s about $25 a year right now. That enables us to not only purchase the plan but have long term stewardship,” said Gould.
Councilwoman Marsha McLean is credited by her fellow council members for helping save Elsmere Canyon, a significant portion of the open space.
“I don’t think people understand that if we’d allowed that dump to built in Elsmere Canyon we would not have Whitney Canyon because that was slated to be an off-road vehicle park. That would have desecrated Placerita Canyon. We would not have had that nature center,” said McLean.
The miles of hiking trails will continue to expand along with the acreage due to the 30 year funding structure of the Open Space Preservation District.
“That money is coming in on an annual basis. And as the money accumulates we’re out there actively looking for other parcels of land that fit within a certain criteria that we want to acquire. We have some targets already,” said Gould.
Ender believes the assessment allows the City of Santa Clarita to continue to progress despite the tough economy.
“If you look at other communities in Southern California they’re not doing things like this. This is a time when people are cutting back and taking things away. Closing things. Not in Santa Clarita. We are moving forward,” said Ender.
Gould, who grew up in open space friendly Santa Cruz, has a personal connection to eventually creating a greenbelt around the city.
“This is an opportunity to do something in perpetuity. It’s not something that sticks around for one day or two days. We’re creating something that my kids and their kids and their kids will enjoy forever because we’re saving this land in conservation,” Gould said.