The Bay Area is home to several regional trails, from the Bay Trail near the water’s edge up to the Bay Area Ridge Trail, which traverses the high points of our landscape. The ultimate goal of this latter project is to ring the hills that surround San Francisco Bay with a 500-mile ridgetop trail open to hikers, equestrians, and mountain bicyclists. Early this year, the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council set a goal of dedicating the 300th mile of the Ridge Trail by the end of 2005. Several trails are under construction, and the council will come close to meeting that goal with 296 miles of dedicated multiuse trails set to be open by the end of the year.
On November 5, the Ridge Council will join with Marin County Open Space District and California State Parks to dedicate a 10-mile trail segment from Samuel P. Taylor State Park to Loma Alta Open Space Preserve. Other trails in progress include a 4.5-mile trail in the Crockett Hills in Contra Costa County and a five-mile trail to the summit of Hood Mountain between Santa Rosa and Kenwood.
Of the remaining 200 miles, 150 run through private land, and that means the Trail Council will have to develop new strategies to work with private landowners. The first trail that the council has built on private land was dedicated in late September. Based on a trail easement agreement with the Tuteur Family Trust, the 1.3-mile loop off the Skyline Trail in Napa’s Skyline Wilderness County Park creates a model for private landowners that the council hopes to use again in the future. Trail Council Executive Director Holly Van Houten says that success will require voluntary participation from families like the Tuteurs, and an expansion of a trail trust program that will include the purchase and management of some of the land. For more information go to www.ridgetrail.org.