An Eagle Scout project has made it easier to track your progress on Highland’s Shelton Trail.
Ben Mason, a 15-year-old Citrus High School sophomore and a member of Boy Scout Troop 19, installed eight mile markers along the 4.3-mile trail. He, his 13-year-old brother, Cole, and a few other Scouts did the project on Aug. 18.
They started at 6 a.m. — sunrise — but by the time they finished it was 10 a.m. and in the 90s. The high that day was 94.
“It was a complete success,” Ben told Highland Community Trails Committee on Thursday, Sept. 13. The trailhead is across the street from Highland Fire Station 542.
The committee approved the project a few months ago, and he had to jump through a few other city hoops before the hard part: Using a router to carve out the letters and figures.
“I worked on these at my home along with my brother as well as a couple of other Scouts,” he said. “After all this was done, I constructed the posts, I contacted Dig Alert to make sure there was no electrical or gas or Internet cables running under the path where I was going to use the post-hole digger. Thankfully, there were no obstructions so I was able to dig the posts where I thought they should be.”
To cement the posts in place, he used Sika bags, a polyurethane resin foam that takes 30 seconds to prepare, solidifies in 3 minutes and hardens in 2 hours. A 33-ounce bag costs about $11 a bag at Lowe’s, Ben said. It’s easier than hauling bags of concrete. Sika needs no water.
After shaking the bag and pouring the concrete into the hole, you have about 30 seconds to move the foam around before it starts to harden, he said. In a few holes, the green foam expanded above ground, but he cut it off so it’s not visible.
“I used a level to make sure they were not crooked,” he said.
Ben raised the money through donations and doing odd jobs around town, he said. He called it a great experience.
“I’m honored to be able to work with this and to give the city of Highland and give back to the community that I live in,” he said.
Before the meeting, Commissioner Dennis Johnson — Highland’s first mayor — said that when Ben first proposed the project he sounded like an experienced politician.
On behalf of himself and the Boy Scouts of America, Ben thanked the commissioners for allowing him to do this project.
“I hope to be able to build bonds between the Scouts and the city of Highland, maybe for future trails or maintenance,” Ben said. “We always want to do service projects and we do have lots of Eagle Scouts coming up.”
His brother and friends are among them.
At the end of Ben’s PowerPoint presentation, commissioners applauded and were effusive with their praise.
Commissioner Dan Bautista said Highland’s many miles of trails are the city’s best kept secrets. He thinks the sign at the trailhead and the miles markers will draw some attention.
“It’s important for people to see a trail marker,” he said. “I hope that maybe if we’re able to do some fund-raising in the future maybe we can procure the materials, and contract you and the Scouts and collaborate on the labor portion and installation. The goal would be to have all of our trails clearly marked.”
Ben replied, “I definitely agree. Part of the reason that inspired me to work on this specific trail is because I use this trail a lot personally. I would go with my mom and we would walk along the trail, I would ride my bike along trail, we’d do runs on the trail. It’s a very good trail.
“One of the reasons I wanted to do this project specifically was because I wanted to better the community. I wanted to see the city grow in that fashion.”
In an email the next day, Ben said he lives on the west side of Highland, not close to the Shelton Trail.
“I chose this trail because I noticed that it is particularly easy to get lost on it, as there are many smaller, more obvious trails that branch off of it,” he said. “I wanted to be able to give back to the community that allows me to use this trail so freely.”
Troop 19 meets at 7 p.m. Mondays at the Redlands Elks Lodge. He said it’s a close-knit group that does service projects for cities.
“That’s kind of our goal as Scouts, to give back,” Ben said, “to better our communities.”
Johnson said, “I think you’re representing Scouting in the highest fashion possible. I hope you’re proud of yourself. We’re very proud of you.”
Commission Chairman Joseph Ellis said he wants to strengthen the city’s relationship with the Scouts.
“I would definitely be my pleasure to be able to work with the city of Highland more,” Ben said. “It would beneficial to both the Boy Scouts’ reputation and the city of Highland. I think we could have a very good relationship.”
After high school, Ben hopes to serve on a Navy aircraft carrier or pursue a medical career.
Ben is not yet an Eagle Scout. He still has to complete an interview with the local council and finish some paper work. When the ceremony is held, it will likely be at the Redlands Elks Lodge at 663 New York St., he said.
His younger brother plans to tackle an Eagle Scout project soon.
“He is ahead of most Scouts his age and will be receiving the rank of Life in December, the rank prior to Eagle,” Ben said.
National Take a Hike Day
After Ben Mason left, the commission discussed where to hike on National Take a Hike Day on Saturday, Nov. 17.
The staff report suggested staging the event at Aurantia Park using the Alpin-Redhill-North Fork Trails or some variation.
But the commission agreed that the Shelton Trail would be appropriate to showcase the work done by Troop 19. Associate Planner Tom Thornsley warned that with only two months to plan, decisions will have to be made quickly. A few commissioners plan to explore the potential routes starting at 7:30 this morning, Friday, Sept. 21.
The Shelton Trail
The Shelton Trail gains 1,095 feet starting at Base Line and Weaver Avenue.
A 2016 blog posted on the Nobody Walks in LA website says, “This hike turns out to be rather adventurous, offering panoramic city and mountain views and steep ascents and descents.”
Starting along Base Line, the trail weaves behind block walls behind the homes of east Highlands Ranch. At the 1-mile marker, it becomes a single-track path up Harrison Mountain.
The blogger turned off on the Plunge Creek Truck Trail at the 2.5-mile mark pf Shelton Trail, which also continues north and eventually reaching Highway 330.
More trails on the horizon
The city has two major projects that will provide connections between Highland and Redlands for bicyclists and hikers.
The $4.3 million Highland/Redlands Regional Connector will create a Class 1 protected bikeway from Greenspot Road to Citrus Valley High School along Orange Street. Class 2 bikeways (lines painted on the street) will follow Streeter Drive past Beattie Middle School to Base Line with an eastern jog along Love Street to Arroyo Verde Elementary School.
Construction is expected to begin in October 2019.
The $4 million Alabama Street/City Creek Bikeway will provide a Class 1 route along Alabama Street from San Bernardino Avenue in Redlands to Third Street. Just before Third Street, the Class 1 portion of the trail will follow City Creek under State Route 210 to Base Line.
Construction is expected to begin in July 2020.
Both trails will reach the Santa Ana River Trail once it reaches Highland.
Santa Ana River Trail
The Santa Ana River Trail is 60 percent complete, according to the San Bernardino County Regional Parks website.
When finished it will run 110 miles from the San Bernardino National Forest to the Pacific Ocean at Huntington Beach.
There are two gaps in the trail: From Green River in Orange County to Hidden Valley Wildlife area in Riverside County and from Waterman Avenue in San Bernardino to the National Forest boundary line near Mentone.
That park of the trail cuts through the Santa Ana River Wash Habitat Conservation Plan, Daniel Cozad, general manager of the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District says he hopes that part of the trail will be open in 2020.
Phases I and II are open and comprise 7.5 miles of trail starting at Waterman Avenue behind 222 W. Hospitality Lane in San Bernardino to the Riverside County line.
The 3.6-mile stretch of Phase III will run from Waterman Avenue to California Street in Redlands.
Phase IV will run from California Street in Redlands to Garnet Street in Mentone and up to the San Bernardino National Forest for a total of another 11 miles.
Pacific Crest Trail
Once the Santa Ana River Trail reaches into the forest, connections could be made with the Pacific Crest Trail, which spans 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. Beginning in Campo, the trail passes through Lake Morena County Park, tunnels beneath Interstate 8 and climbs to the rim of the Laguna Mountains.
The trail dips into Anza-Borrego Desert State Park at Scissors Crossing, then winds through the San Felipe Hills and the Cleveland National Forest before crossing Highway 74 at 4,900 feet and climbing the backbone of the San Jacinto Mountains. It reaches its highest point in this section at 9,030 feet shortly before it plunges to its lowest point, crossing beneath Interstate 10 at the San Gorgonio Pass (elevation 1,190 feet).
The trail climbs through San Bernardino and San Gabriel ranges past Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead. It crosses Interstate 15 at Cajon Pass near Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area and continues north.