Community Heroes: Kristen Hernandez, co-founder of Trail Mothers

As California starts to see better days in overcoming the pandemic, the Daily Sundial’s “Frontline Heroes” series will transition into “Community Heroes” to honor those who strive to make a positive impact on the world around them.


Courtesy of Kristen Hernandez

Kristen Hernandez, co-founder of Trail Mothers.

Emily Holshouser, Assistant News Editor

This week’s community hero is Kristen Hernandez, the co-founder of Trail Mothers, a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization that helps clean up wild spaces and trails in the San Fernando Valley. Hernandez also works with District 12 City Councilman John Lee, who represents Northridge.

Trail Mothers started with Hernandez’s Instagram, where she would post about hiking with her 9-year-old son, Liam. In 2017, the account began to include other moms and their kids hiking with Hernandez. The group also began to pick up trash and promote environmental sustainability.

“I was getting inspired by a lot of other groups that I was a part of,” Hernandez said. “I told myself I can do this.”

Right as the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Trail Mothers became a nonprofit organization, but the group couldn’t hold events. Like the rest of the world, Hernandez was stuck at home, isolated from the world.

“It made me lose a lot of motivation, to be honest,” Hernandez said.

While Hernandez was rock climbing one day, she decided to begin graffiti removal projects. She set out to find a sustainable company to help.

“I made it my mission to find a company that is biodegradable and safe, and I thought that if I could inspire myself to create an event, it’s going to be removing graffiti,” Hernandez said. “During COVID, that was all I was thinking about: how can I get rid of this, and how are we going to have more events?”

Hernandez began Trail Mothers to fill the gaps in what she believes the California Department of Parks and Recreation is not doing. She began focusing on trash cleanup in Stoney Point Park, a city-owned park in Chatsworth frequented by rock climbers.

“It’s frustrating, because we’re doing all this work, and nothing is happening with parks and rec,” Hernandez said. “Their priorities are elsewhere.”

Lee lists environmentalism as a priority on his website. A majority of his motions center around improving public spaces using trash cleanup and public projects.

Hernandez said that Trail Mothers has become not only a way to improve Los Angeles trails — it’s also built a community.

“The most rewarding thing about running Trail Mothers is that everyone who comes out to our events ends up being our best friends,” Hernandez said. “We’re building communities within communities.”

Lee’s office sponsors all Trail Mothers events, providing the group with trash bags, gloves, marketing materials, email blasts, and other materials. Hernandez helped Lee during his election in 2020.

“He’s very supportive, he’s really happy with what we’re doing,” Hernandez says. “Anytime I have an event, he’s always there to help me with anything that I want.”

Hernandez said that Trail Mothers wants to keep helping people learn more about the world around them and foster a desire to keep it clean.

“We want other people to spend as much time outside as possible, but we want them to be responsible,” Hernandez said.