The Tehachapi Mountain Trail – a long time favorite hiking trail to the peak of Tehachapi Mountain – is now closed at the boundary of the county-owned Tehachapi Mountain Park and private property owned by Summit Lime Company.
The “.44-mile to top” sign has been removed, a “no trespassing” sign has been posted and some old cable and branches have been used to block the trail.
Phillip Wyman, whose family has owned the Summit Lime Company since the late 1800s, confirmed that the trail has been closed to the public.
“The trail and the park go to a certain point then it connects to our private property and in the past we have had people who go up there. Particularly since we’ve had logging and other issues up there, we’ve had concerns about liability, safety and criminal activity, poaching and things like that,” Wyman said. “We did have an issue several years ago on that side of the ranch where was a plantation of marijuana and we prosecuted it. I was once chased by some of those people and I fled for my life.”
A number of hikers have used the private property portion of the trail for years and acknowledged the private status of the property in hiking reports.
It has been a practice of hikers to sign a log that in recent years was stored in a metal ammunition box at the top of the trail.
Justin Knowlton of Tehachapi reported to the News that the sign at the top of the trail and the ammo box are now gone.
The box was filled with notebooks that dated back a few years, Knowlton said. It contained stories of trail hikes to the top and signatures from people all over the U.S. It was even signed by some Tibetan Monks, he noted, written in their language.
Hikers enjoyed reading what people wrote in the books, he added.
In an article published in the News in 2008, Jon Hammond noted that campers from Burbank YMCA’s old Camp Earlanna in nearby Paradise Valley would sometimes refer to the summit as “Woody’s Peak” after a camp counselor by that name, but said that peculiar nickname wasn’t recognized or used by anyone else.
“This was a great place to hike and gave the hiking community and residents something to do on their days off work,” Knowlton said. He hiked the area once or twice a week and had been up there 18 times in the past few months. He and a few others used it to prepare for their Mt. Whitney day hikes.
Scott Surgent, a University of Arizona lecturer who maintains a website chronicling his trips to high points and prominence peaks, wrote about his journey to the top of Tehachapi Mountain in 2009. He noted at the time that he met a number of hikers along the way.
Wyman acknowledged that access has not previously been restricted.
“Anybody can hike up to the boundary of the park and there isn’t a fence, its just one sign that says ‘park end’ and the ‘no trespassing’ sign that we’ve posted,” he said.
At the same time, he expressed concern about hunting and ongoing logging in the area and the possible dangers that could be related to those activities.
And although he has no plans to reopen the trail to the public, he reports that access to the area is available through the recreational camp operated by his family. Contact information for use of the camp was not available at press time.
“I think we just need to take some responsibility for this and not have some tragedy,” Wyman said. “We had a wonderful logger killed in an accident and with the fire and all of the wood and everything we have concern with liability and out ability to track what people are doing.”