I’m a frequent user of the open space and I guess I’ve visited Midpen preserves close to 1000 times on bike or foot. My daughter is an equestrian who rides at Bear Creek. Over the years I’ve become an enthusiastic trails advocate. I’ve taken many classes in trail design and maintenance, and I’m also a frequent trailwork volunteer.

This is over-simplifying, but Measure AA represented something of a shift in Midpen’s focus, from acquisition and preservation to preservation and access. That’s just a reflection that a lot of these lands are now protected from development, and the best way for people to appreciate, learn about, and value the open space is to experience it themselves.

Measure AA projects potentially increase Midpen’s trail coverage from about 250 miles to over 400 miles. The trails are the main way that a lot of open space users enjoy the preserves, so I think we can agree that they’re a very important part of Midpen’s work.

I attended several recent board meetings and I learned a lot. However I didn’t hear a lot about trails, and I wanted to start using the public comment period to provide some insight on trails and trail advocacy. My thoughts reflect a lot of conversations I’ve had with other trail users. As a mountain biker I made a point to reach out to equestrians and hikers to understand their positions and concerns. All of these groups want great trails. As you know, it can take a long time to create new trails and the actual building of the trail is often the easy part. That’s why we all need to be strong trail advocates and keep moving these projects forward. We need to have vision and perseverance to create a great trail system. What I’d like to do in these public comment periods is to provide some observations on trail topics and try to spread my enthusiasm for trails to the board and others. I want to acknowledge that directors and management have already provided us a forum for dialog with staff on these topics, so my comments here are just informational.

I’m about out of time for tonight, so I’ll just list a few topics that I’d like to address in upcoming comments. I hope that these can be interesting and informative, and occasionally amusing as well. Some of the topics I have in mind are these:

  • The value of narrow or singletrack trails, why we like them, and how they can help manage interactions
  • The drawbacks of fire roads and why we shouldn’t think of them the same way as other trails
  • The current mix of Midpen trails and roads and how many of them are open to various users
  • What I learned from equestrians
  • The role of dual use (both hike/equestrian and hike/bike) trails in a modern multi-use trail system
  • The value of trails that connect the Ridge to the Valley
  • The most famous trail in Los Gatos, and why we’d like it not to be Thanks very much for your good work and I’ll look forward to further bothering you about trails in upcoming meetings.

These comments were provided to the Midpen Board of Directors during the public comment portion of their July 28, 2021 meeting.