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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Santa Ana Mountains, Cleveland National Forest, Orange/Riverside counties.

Thanks for adding any current trail conditions or useful info.


From the Trabuco Ranger District office, CNF:

Here is what we think we know:
· El Niño conditions are currently present.
· Positive equatorial sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies continue across most of the Pacific Ocean.
· There is an approximately 70% chance that El Niño conditions will continue through Northern Hemisphere summer 2015, and a greater than 60% chance it will last through autumn.
Here is what we think it means:
Given the likelihood of warmer than normal SST's present this summer, temperatures during the next few months are likely going to be above normal through August. Some seasonal variability can still be expected with a cooler period occurring in late May and June (May Gray and June Gloom), but overall, expect well above normal temperatures to continue the next several months. The warmer than normal SST's may also weaken marine layer inversions, resulting in less stratus than usual. Sea breezes may also be weaker and less widespread than usual due to less of a temperature gradient between the desert and ocean than average. So, hotter and stable.
The summer precipitation outlook is vaguer. While there may be a higher amount of precipitable water in the area this summer, there is evidence of the possibility of more frequent occurrences of southwesterly flow this summer than last year. This would result in fewer thunderstorms this summer, as the High that usually sits above the Four Corners moves eastward. So, probably little chance of late-season rain (although as I write this, we do have a storm coming in….).
The source for this info, and some of the stuff below, is the following website: OSCC Outlooks This is a good resource for '7-Day', or 'Monthly' look-aheads, in terms of weather and fire, for not only Southern California, but other areas nationally as well.

California has been severely impacted by the drought; now well into its 4th year. There has been a high amount of die-off in brush and shrubs. Areas along the coast from Los Angeles and Orange County northward to southern Monterey County have been hardest hit. These areas have a high dead fuel component, especially in areas with old growth which hasn't seen fire in the last 50 years. We're seeing it too - a quick drive along the Ortega Highway corridor shows multiple dead and dying trees, along with the broken limbs from late December's freak snowstorm. The water is not present in an amount that is sustainable for the current vegetation load, and the ecosystem is knocking off the less resilient individuals and species on the landscape. Generally, this is a natural process. However…..
The drought has also allowed invasive insects to inflict damage to heavier fuels. The drought-weaken trees have become more susceptible to insect damage as protective saps dry up and moisture content at the cellular level decreases - basically, the lack of water has prevented them from fighting off pests. Conifer stands have been decimated by pine-beetles over portions of the state, especially across the southern Sierras and the Sierra Foothills. Southern California has been hit as well - Caltrans, Riverside Cal Fire, and FS personnel have removed a number of dead pines along the Ortega Highway. The pine beetles have also not been exposed to much cold weather during the past winter which could have helped thin their numbers. We expect to see a continued die-off of pines this summer, with some areas seeing continuous stands of dead trees by late summer and fall.
Oaks are being affected by another pest, the Golden Spotted Oak Borer (GSOB). An infestation of the GSOB has been discovered in approximately 30 oak trees in Orange County as of December 2014. The GSOB is a non-native invasive beetle that has killed an estimated 80,000 oak trees in San Diego County. An infestation of just over 50 trees has also been identified in the community of Idyllwild in Riverside County. Scientists believe that the insect was transported to San Diego County via oak firewood from its native range in southeastern Arizona. Here is a link for those guys: Orange County - Goldspotted Oak Borer And there is another pest that is attacking most of the other species, including sycamores: The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB) is a new pest in Southern California. This boring beetle, from the group of beetles known as ambrosia beetles, drills into trees and brings with it a pathogenic fungus (Fusarium euwallacea), as well as other fungal species that may to help establish the colonies. Here is a link for that fellow: Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer - Pest and Disease Threats to Southern California Oaks
How can we all help to prevent the spread of these pests? Stop the spread, by not moving firewood. If you have a downed tree, burn it in the fireplace on-site (and don't remove the wood to someplace else), and don't bring firewood bundles from unknown sources into the area.
Here is a good link: Don't Move Firewood | Trees and forests are threatened by invasive foreign insects and diseases An info paper on why it is important is available from the Forest Service here: R8 firewood briefing paper_Dec 9 2014.pdf , and another FS link for information is here: Region 5 - Forest & Grassland Health .

Given the dire state of the fuels across the region, all fuel types will show ready acceptance of flame during peak heating hours this summer. All signs point to a busy season. Extremely rapid rates of spread can be expected, even during periods not normally associated with active fire behavior. Extreme fire behavior will be possible during windy, dry and hot periods with long range spotting and sustained crown runs. Drought ravaged vegetation and hot weather will likely challenge resources this summer as large fire potential will be above normal in all areas outside the desert and irrigated agricultural areas.


May '15 trail conditions are generally overgrown due to good spring precipitation and lack of spring brushing which is usually done by Warriors Society for the Vision Quest event. Some trails are currently being brushed in sections.

Thanks for respecting the fire closure in place through September 30, 2015:
Cleveland National Forest - Home

2,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)

The area got ~4 inches of rain last weekend; some water damage exists on trails.

Holy Jim is a bit overgrown but otherwise in pretty good shape.

Upper Holy Jim suffered a lot of water damage as usual. The ruts don't greatly impact the fun, and the trail is now about as technically difficult as Joplin.

Access (revised info)

On Trabuco Creek Road, (the driving or riding approach on dirt to Holy Jim parking), a federal highway project will begin Monday, 7/27, building a new bridge at the third creek crossing. This is located within the forest, 3.7 miles from "the wash" parking area (the intersection of paved Trabuco Canyon Rd. and dirt Trabuco Creek Rd.) There will be a bypass road constructed, and flagpersons will be regulating traffic with the occasional wait of up to a half hour. Construction is due to be completed 10/25/15.
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