Narrow Ridge to Valley Trails

Narrow Ridge to Valley Trails

I’d like to introduce another trail topic to help spread trail advocacy.  I appreciate the board providing a forum to discuss these topics with staff as well

Tonight I’ll speak about trails that connect, more or less, from the Skyline Ridge to Silicon Valley, and specifically those that are purpose-built narrow, sustainable trails.  These have especially high value as they connect from the areas close to where people live up to the spine of the trail system.  Trails of this type provide a great experience for hikers, cyclists and equestrians.  When there are multiple such trails, at Windy Hill or Sanborn Park for example, we can use them to complete loops, and as you know, many trail users prefer those loops over out-and-back routes.

By my count there are about twelve of these trails in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, across County Parks and Midpen preserves.  Some of them include road segments but they’re primarily narrow routes that provide the experiences we expect of good trails.  I believe all of these are open to hikers and equestrians, but only three are open to cyclists.  That’s unfortunate as cyclists in particular value these trails in forming longer loops they can ride from home, or close to home.  One example where most of the current board members have seen this was in the discussion of the Alpine Road project:  Cyclists argued strongly in favor of a fully narrow route up to Page Mill, and are very grateful for the board’s support of that option. 

Last week the board and staff discussed the Purisima-to-the-Sea Trail as well as the multi-modal access project.  It’s a great opportunity to create a high quality ridge-to-valley trail on the coast side of Skyline.  I think everyone was pleased to see the public interest and engagement in that project. 

I’d appreciate if staff and the board could keep this high value option in mind when planning Measure AA and other projects.  Each time a trail will connect up from a more populated area, there’s an opportunity to create a great experience for trail users.  The purpose-built trails can also help to manage speed, as I discussed in my previous topic, and could draw downhill bike traffic off of popular road routes, such as Spring Ridge at Windy Hill – or Alma Trail at Bear Creek for that matter.  Just a quick comment about the newts:  I ride my bike and hike in that area often and the impact to the newts is distressing.  I appreciate Midpen’s attention to this issue and I’m very interested in hearing about possible solutions.  Thanks for the opportunity to speak and to share my enthusiasm for trails and the trail system.  I’ll return with another trail topic soon.

These comments were provided to the Midpen Board of Directors during the public comment portion of their December 1, 2021 meeting.