Access to Paradise Falls in Thousand Oaks will be closed to the public indefinitely beginning Friday after large crowds trashed the area with litter and human waste, officials said.
The scenic waterfall, located in Wildwood Regional Park, had reopened for weekend use just two weeks ago.
The decision was made Wednesday to shut it down until further notice after the area attracted record crowds who left behind multiple truckloads of trash, according to a statement from the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency.
Despite trash cans being available throughout the area, many simply left their garbage on the ground for staff to pick up, officials said. Trash also accumulated faster than it could be removed due to the high volume of visitors.
“While Paradise Falls has traditionally been a simple scenic stop on a hike through the park, recent crowds arrived by the hundreds with plans to spend hours at this sensitive spot. This resulted in environmental impacts to the land that are not sustainable,” the statement read.
Trash wasn’t the only problem in the area, though. Officials said people were using the creek as a makeshift toilet, littering the water with human waste, which created sanitation problems. Hikers also tramped the wetland vegetation.
“COSCA has worked diligently to encourage visitors to be respectful of the environment and fellow visitors, and to obey posted rules, but many have not answered these calls,” the statement said.
The closure will give the area a chance to recover, officials noted.
Thousands Oaks Police Department personnel will be on hand to help keep the public out during the closure. Those who don’t comply will be cited, according to the statement.
The agency’s other trails will remain open for now, but COSCA emphasized that visitors won’t be able to access Paradise Falls.
Crowding has been an issue at some other newly reopened trails following coronavirus-related-closures, including Eaton Canyon in Altadena.
The popular hiking destination in Los Angeles County was shut down again this past Sunday because too many people were on the trails and too few were adhering to public health guidelines put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19, officials said. The area is scheduled to reopen once more on June 1.