Sunday, March 07, 2010

Castle Rock Trail Plan Meeting Monday March 8th

A meeting between California State Parks officials and mountain bikers concerning the Castle Rock Trail Plan is scheduled for 7 pm Monday March 8th at the Zayante Fire Station located at: 7700 E Zayante Rd, Felton, CA 95018-8704. No preparation needed. Just show up.

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The Castle Rock Trail Plan and the Big Basin General Plan are VERY positive for mountain biking and - if successful - they will result in the expansion of legal mountain biking trails in these parks. Expanding mountain biking in both of these parks essentially gives us a legal skyline to sea trail in the North part of the County.

However, there is no guarantee of success. There are a lot of groups who are opposed to mountain biking in Santa Cruz County and they are better funded and more organized than us.

We need to have community support for mountain biking in both of these plans. It is important to get these comments into the public record. It can be easy as firing off a quick email, making a phone call or showing up and asking questions. It's a small commitment on your time which can pay off big in the long term.

The meeting in Felton is between the mountain biking community and State Parks planning officials, trail gurus, mountain sector superintendent and perhaps the district superintendent. All the big guns. They will give a presentation on the Castle Rock Trail Plan and will engage us with a discussion.

Castle Rock State Park will never be seen as a "destination" State Park for mountain biking along the lines of Wilder or Coe State Parks. (This is largely because most of the interior of the park is a State Natural Preserve, and also because most - if not all - new trails opened to bikes there will be fireroads, rather than singletrack).

Nonetheless, Castle Rock State Park is very important to us because of its connectivity to Sanborn County Park, MROSD (Saratoga Gap and Long Ridge OSPs), and especially Big Basin State Park. In particular:

1. The Skyline Trail (which runs parallel to Highway 35, on its northern side) passes through not only Castle Rock State Park, but also Sanborn County Park and MROSD Saratoga Gap OSP. This trail has been designated part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, and it's important that it - like most of the rest of the Bay Area Ridge Trail - be opened to bikes.

2. The Saratoga Toll Road is a long, scenic trail that runs from Saratoga Gap down (southwards) to Waterman Gap, roughly parallel to Highway 9. (Although it is fireroad-width, it is actually (IMHO) much more scenic and more pleasant than the corresponding section of the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, which runs very close to Highway 9 in several places.

The Castle Rock Trail Plan allows for (but - because of the anti-bike members of the committee - does not specifically call for) bike access to the Saratoga Toll Road, along with a connecting trail that would connect to the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail in Big Basin (near Highway 236). Bike access to the Saratoga Toll Road (plus connecting trail) would make possible a scenic, off-road route from Saratoga Gap through to Big Basin (and hopefully from there to the ocean eventually).

There is no rational reason - beyond historical exclusion, hiker/equestrian fear and NIMBYism - for the Saratoga Toll Road to be closed to our use. It is very important that we correct this, by making clear to State Parks - at Monday's meeting - that we want and expect access to the Saratoga Toll Road (and Skyline Trail).

I would like to emphasize that this meeting is between State Parks officials and mountain bikers. We represent a significant user group in this process. We don't have to defend ourselves from other user groups in this meeting. This is a great opportunity for mountain bikers to engage these officials on our issues and concerns within State Parks.

The meeting room at the Zayante Fire Station has a capacity for at least 100 so lets try to pack the meeting with mountain bikers!

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