One of the town’s leading environmentalists, Carol Leacock, will move to Santa Fe, New Mexico at the end of this month, with her dog Lucy, to be closer to her daughter.
Leacock, a long-time resident who lives on Bienveneda, is the town’s official rainmeister and has been a driving force behind the Temescal Canyon Association, serving as president for many years.
The TCA was founded in 1972 when the Presbyterian Synod sought to sell what is now Temescal Gateway Park to a developer who planned to turn it into a driving range.
TCA also joined the fight to erase plans for a cross-mountain “freeway” from Reseda Boulevard to Pacific Palisades, and in the mid-1970s was instrumental in creating and implementing a plan for Topanga State Park.
Along the way, Leacock was active in the successful campaign to save lower Los Leones Canyon from development and to then restore the property to landscaped parkland, while also earning Pacific Palisades Citizen of the Year honors in 1999.
She is responsible for that trail that was praised in a 2012 National Geographic Traveler article (“The World’s Most Scenic Drives”). The story noted that when driving east on Sunset from PCH, “A left on Bienveneda takes you to the Topanga Trailhead and some mighty fine hiking through the Santa Monica Mountains. The Phil Leacock Memorial trail comes with views of Pacific Palisades and the Pacific Ocean.”
This half-mile connector trail links Bienveneda to Temescal Gateway Park and is an easy trail with scenic views.
Leacock said the idea for the trail came from her late husband, Phil, a film director, who passed away in 1990. She asked local trail builder Ron Webster to map out the trail, which he did. Leacock then asked State Parks personnel if TCA could go ahead with it.
“I repeatedly got turned down,” she said, adding that State Parks officials said they couldn’t afford it.
Leacock assured them that TCA would cover the cost. Nothing happened until Susan Ross, a new superintendent for Will Rogers State Historic Park, was installed.
Leacock said Ross attended several TCA board meetings and then Leacock took her to the trailhead on upper Bienveneda, after which Ross gave the go ahead.
Leacock immediately called Webster, who said Sierra Club trail crews were available and “a process that had taken three years was suddenly completed in less than three months!”
About halfway along the trail on the left, set into a rock in a shady area of the trail, is a memorial plaque that reads: “This trail is dedicated to the memory of Phil Leacock, president of the Temescal Canyon Association, who worked so long and hard for its completion.”
In addition to serving as a TCA board member, Leacock led hikes on local trails and helped with trail maintenance. She was president when she married Ted Mackie in 1998, and he agreed to become treasurer. He was also an avid hiking companion.
Both were active participants in the Will Rogers 5/10K race. After Ted died in May 2017, 81-year-old Carol placed third in her 5K age group. A year later, she was sixth.
On the Temescal Canyon Association Facebook page, there’s this message: “There are many members of the Santa Monica Mountains Task Force who cherish Carol’s friendship and will greatly miss having her around. Please join us in wishing Carol (and Lucy) a fond farewell!”
On the TCA website (temcanyon.org), Leacock is listed as the current vice president, the president emeritus and the hike leader.
Carol’s friend, Shirley Haggstrom, sent the following message on Monday to her fellow Historical Society board members: “Today I sent a card to Carol Leacock from those of us on the Board. I wrote how much her work in Pacific Palisades has been appreciated (Los Leones, hikes, trails, TCA) and how that will always be a part of the fabric of our community. And I wished her every happiness in her new home.”