State finally will remove rock slide that closed section of American River bike trail

Rubble remains on recreation trail at Lake Natoma.
Rubble remains on recreation trail at Lake Natoma. Tom Zlotkowski

State officials say they will begin work Monday cleaning up a rock slide that forced a nearly three-year closure of a section of the paved American River bike and recreation trail alongside Lake Natoma in Orangevale.

The work will take place three miles upstream of Hazel Avenue and will require extending the existing trail closure from that point east approximately one mile.

The project also will involve work stabilizing the Orangevale Bluffs above the trail, officials said. The asphalt trail itself is probably crushed, in which case it will have to be repaved, state parks Superintendent Rich Preston said.

State officials say the project will take several months, and be finished sometime this fall.

The land and rock slide occurred during January and February of 2017. The state has kept a section of the trail closed since then, while officials determined how to stabilize the hillside above it. The slide area is about 100 yards long, Preston said.

The closure will affect trail access from the Hazel Avenue overpass, Sunset Avenue and Main Avenue intersection, the Mississippi Bar area, as well as access points to the east off of Greenback Lane.

Cyclists, runners and others can continue to use the recreation trail that runs along the opposite, southern side of Lake Natoma.

The project was delayed when a pair of bald eagles returned to nest in the pines above Lake Natoma for the third successive year.

The eagles left in July, state parks superintendent Preston said, and may come back in November or December, if they follow their typical pattern.

“As bald eagles are a federally protected species, the geo-technical firm was unable to complete its assessment until the eagles vacated the area, which occurred in late July 2018,” Preston said earlier.

The lack of progress has prompted complaints from cyclists who have been waiting for a fix on the popular and scenic section of the trail that runs for 30-plus miles from downtown Sacramento to Folsom Lake.