Pathfinders

first_imgBy Megan Bagdonas STAFF WRITER It’s simple, hand drawn and out of date, but the 15-year-old trail guide put out by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Horsemen’s Association is still the ultimate authority on the roughly 100miles of dirt paths meandering through the affluent community. But not for long. High on their horses and armed with satellite images of the region, a group of riders is busy correcting and finalizing the new equestrian trail guide before it goes to print in the next couple of months. “We’re making sure all the details are right,” said Dale Allen, president of the association. “So we’re riding the trails to see if they’re still there or if they’ve moved.” The original guide was drawn by hand using aerial photographs taken from a plane as reference. Roads are black, trails are red and various buildings and bushes are shown as green outlines. “It is actually remarkably accurate for being hand drawn,” said Blair Harkins, 23, head of Geographic Information Systems for the nonprofit Palos Verdes on the Net, which partnered with the horsemen to revamp the trail guide. “But some of the trails are not there anymore because buildings have been built over them. Others have shifted in position.” For the past two months, Geographic Information System (GIS) volunteers have been combining the old guide with current satellite images to create colorful maps that include trail distances and elevations. “We already had the data and space maps for all the Peninsula cities, and we just scanned their guide and redrew the trails onto the GIS system,” said Ted Vegvari, founder of Palos Verdes on the Net. However, the final touches of accuracy couldn’t be trusted to a satellite. From space, large trees obscure where some trails begin and end, while others have become too overgrown to see. So now the horsemen are diligently double checking all the trails. “Today we found one or two small mistakes,” Allen said after a recent ride. “One was a cutoff trail that was shown at a wrong location. It was off by a significant amount, maybe a couple hundred yards. And then we found another trail on the map, one we were looking for and had thought was missing.” The horsemen’s association began as a group of riders that organized trail races in the late 1970s. By the early ’80s the riders formed an official organization dedicated to preserving the horse-friendly nature of the Hill communities and maintaining trails. They even backed a candidate, Joe Lehman, in the 1982 Rolling Hills Estates City Council election, but he lost. The trail guide is just another tool for the association to preserve what it fears could be eroding: the rural, equestrian lifestyle of the Peninsula. “Maybe if you put all these trails on a map, some of which people never knew about, it will get them riding them again and open up some of the overgrown and forgotten trails,” horseman Latha Hylton said. Sunshine, a self-proclaimed “trail junkie,” said the new guide benefits not just horse riders, but anyone using the paths. “For trail users, they’ll be able say, `I’ll meet you at the intersection of such and such trails,’ or when they call the Fire Department they can say, `I broke my leg at water tank 20.’ And it will help the city, Fire Department, the police to all call landmarks by the same name,” Sunshine said. “It’s purely a communications thing.” Although it is expected to become the all-encompassing last word on trails on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, there could be some upcoming changes the new guide won’t be able to predict. “For many years it’s been the only resource for trails because all this land is privately owned,” said Barbara Dye, executive director of the 1,300-acre Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy. “But with the Rancho Palos Verdes Master Plan, some trails may be redesignated.” The master plan is expected to be completed by next year and could prompt some trails, especially ones not heavily used, to be shifted, rerouted or renamed. “For instance, they have a Pepper Tree Trail, and we are designating a trail by that name that will be closer to Pepper Tree Drive,” Dye said. “But we will try to use established names as much as possible.” The association had hoped to complete the guide in time for the Rolling Hills Estates’ 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday, but the horsemen now expect to have it ready by the end of the year. The original trail guide cost $10, but no one could say whether the new version would sell for more. [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img