California park warns hikers against building illegal trails due to "unexploded" grenade risk

Fort Ord National Monument
The area served as a military base for 65 years before being turned into a National Monument (Image credit: zrfphoto)

BLM officials in California have issued a stern word of warning for some park visitors after it was revealed they've been building illegal trails near unexploded munitions. Despite the 86 miles of trails already in place in Fort Ord National Monument, hikers and mountain bikers have reportedly been constructing their own trails and jumps in the Marina, CA park, unwittingly placing themselves in mortal danger.

“Unauthorized trail building and use of unsigned paths at the Fort Ord National Monument is dangerous,” writes Fort Ord National Monument Manager Eric Morgan in a news release. 

“Creating illegal routes exposes visitors to unexploded ordnance hazards, destroys endangered plants and wildlife habitat, and is costly to remedy.”

Fort Ord was signed into legislation as a National Monument in 2012 under president Obama, and today it describes itself as a "coastal gem" with grasslands, rolling hills, seasonal pools and oak woodland. However, the area formerly served as a US military base from 1917 until 1994 and according to the Fort Ord Cleanup Project, that training "often resulted in munitions and explosives of concern or MEC [military explosives of concern] remaining on those areas."

As of the time of writing, over 90,000 military explosives have been removed from the area. Despite the ongoing cleanup, an unknown number of hazards remain in the park, with the area of highest concern fenced off and clearly signposted as off-limits. According to the cleanup project documents, as long as visitors comply with posted restrictions and remain on designated trails, however, they remain safe from munition risk. 

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.