News


New effort in the works to build trail from Bay to ocean

Trail could connect land from Ravenswood Open Space Preserve in East Palo Alto and Bair Island to Half Moon Bay

A map of the envisioned Bay to Sea Trail, running from Bair Island, and potentially the Ravenswood Open Space Preserve, into the hills near Huddart Park and Purisima Creek Open Space Preserve before heading into Half Moon Bay. (Map information courtesy of Peninsula Open Space Trust.)

Land conservation agencies and local jurisdictions are teaming up behind a bold new plan to build a trail that would allow people to travel by foot, bicycle or horse from the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean.

The Bay to Sea Trail, while still in its conceptual design phase, would, as envisioned now, be a multiuse path that would run from Bair Island in Redwood City to Half Moon Bay, moving past Edgewood County Park, through Huddart County Park and the Phleger Estate, through Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve, onto Burleigh H. Murray Ranch State Park and Johnston Ranch, into Wavecrest Open Space Reserve. Another trail segment on the conceptual map would run from Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve along a path south past Lobitos Creek to Cowell Ranch State Beach.

On the Bay side, it could also include a trail segment that would run from the Ravenswood Open Space Preserve in East Palo Alto through Menlo Park and North Fair Oaks to Redwood City along the Dumbarton rail right-of-way.

It would build off of existing trails as well, such as the Bay Area Ridge Trail, the Bay Trail, and the California Coastal Trail, according to Rachael Faye, public access project manager with the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST).

According to Faye, POST will be operating as the "backbone" of the initiative and act as project manager. That agency has been talking about the idea since as early as 2005, but it wasn't until recently that the organization made the vision a priority.

For the project to come together, though, it will take time – early documents point to a goal of project completion by 2037 – and the support of a number of different agencies, she explained. The agency is collecting letters of intent indicating support for the project from the following agencies: San Mateo County (including the parks and public works departments and the Office of Sustainability), the MidPeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD), the Golden Gate National Recreational Area, the Coastside Land Trust, the Coastal Conservancy, the California Parks Department, and the cities of Redwood City and Half Moon Bay.

"We all share this vision, and we want to contribute to it in the various ways we each can to make it become a reality," Faye said. "It takes a team."

Next, the agencies will assemble a planning coalition and initiate public outreach to work through questions like: What kind of experiences should the trail offer different user groups? Where will the route go? What existing trails should be melded into this path? What new trails will need to be designed and developed?

A Dumbarton trail?

Faye said POST and other coalition agencies hope to see a path that runs along the Dumbarton rail corridor. The rail line now runs through East Palo Alto, the Belle Haven neighborhood of Menlo Park, and North Fair Oaks, areas that currently offer "very little safe active transportation (opportunity)," she said. If a multiuse path were supported there, she said, "It would make a really unique, high-quality recreational experience along that corridor."

The rail corridor is currently being studied by SamTrans and the Plenary Group, supported by Facebook, to determine whether it is feasible to rebuild and reactivate the old transbay rail line.

Faye said the planning coalition is waiting to see what the feasibility study finds, adding, "I hope we can be a voice in the conversation to support active transportation."

Because of the uncertainty of whether a multiuse path along the rail line will be technically feasible, the cities of Menlo Park and East Palo Alto were not asked to participate in the initial planning coalition, she said.

The more straightforward route to start with will be to work with the city of Redwood City to develop a route from Bair Island to Huddart Park, and then farther west through MROSD's Purisima Creek Redwood Open Space Preserve, she said.

The trail type and conditions would likely differ depending on the terrain being traversed, Faye explained. In the more urban areas, it might be as simple as a set of wayfinding signs or a separated bike lane, while in open space areas, it could include new multiuse trail segments.

Specific features of the trail, such as whether dogs would be permitted, or whether there would be overnight camping opportunities for people who wish to travel the whole route from point to point, are still to be determined, she said.

"It would be so great if we could create overnight opportunities along the way," she said. "It's something that's in the back of our minds."

While a minority of people might choose to hike or bike the whole extent of the trail, she explained, more would use it in smaller segments. Even so, it will provide an opportunity to connect communities, enable people to experience the different habitats that make up the Peninsula and connect the north-to-south trails that already exist or are in development.

Ultimately, it could enable one to travel by trail all the way from Redwood City to San Francisco and beyond, she added.

Complementary MROSD projects

MROSD is already working on two trail projects that could be part of the final Bay to Sea Trail, district spokesperson Leigh Ann Gessner said.

One is a trail segment in the Ravenswood Open Space Preserve that crews are expected to begin work on this fall, and the other is the Purisima to the Sea Trail, which would connect the Bay Area Ridge Trail in the Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve to the Coastal Trail along the coast in Half Moon Bay.

The agency just recently acquired the last "puzzle piece" of the land needed to make that trail possible, Gessner said. The next step for that trail segment to become reality is to start the planning process for where the trail would go and begin public outreach, she added.

When MROSD put together a long-term plan in 2014, it was clear to the district that Peninsula residents have a strong desire for a network of trails to connect people to public open spaces, so this project aligns well with that vision, she said.

A connected trail network isn't just good for people, Gessner added. "It benefits wildlife, who also need to be able to move through the landscape safely to access food, water and habitats they need."

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Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Kate Bradshaw writes for The Almanac, the sister publication of PaloAltoOnline.com.

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Comments

12 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 24, 2019 at 9:05 am

Why will this trail take 18 years to complete? Doesn't most of it already exist? What parts are so complicated?


2 people like this
Posted by Felina
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 24, 2019 at 5:41 pm

May the big cats roam the trail!


2 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 24, 2019 at 5:55 pm

Unfortunately the steep ascent would make such a trail inaccessible to most who wish to go to the beach. One idea that should be explored is tunneling to create a relatively flat path. Imagine if you could bike 10 miles on a flat road to reach the beach. Many would choose that option instead of driving. But biking 15-20 miles up 3000 feet isn't an option that will get people out of cars.


7 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 24, 2019 at 7:39 pm

Would be cheaper and less risky to do this in a fitness studio with virtual reality. You could set the degree of difficulty on a cycling machine or treadmill slope and have video projections of pristine scenery. Climate controlled, no poison oak, no mosquitoes or other insects, no sunburn. Take a break anytime to go next door for a latte.


13 people like this
Posted by TomS
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 24, 2019 at 10:30 pm

I hope the last two comments are supposed to be sarcastic...tunneling, virtual reality, ha!


5 people like this
Posted by Publicus
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 24, 2019 at 10:44 pm

Meanwhile I'll be in my Lay-Z-Boy watching Netflix


1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 25, 2019 at 1:04 am

@TomS, we need a set of agreed-upon emojis, safe from misinterpretation.


4 people like this
Posted by AlanS
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 25, 2019 at 11:16 am

I love the idea of this, but 18 years?!? How can it possibly take that long?

I'll be living on Mars before this thing is done.


4 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 25, 2019 at 3:54 pm

Think how long it would take if Palo Alto touched it.


Like this comment
Posted by Not worth doing
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 25, 2019 at 4:00 pm

Not worth doing is a registered user.

Am I the only one who doesn't think this is worth doing? We have so much more important landscaping work to do around the Bay to fortify and expand wetlands and on the coast to prevent erosion. And we need to plant trees all over the peninsula. Let's focus on that instead. It's just as fun and beautiful, and more useful.


5 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2019 at 11:28 am

Posted by Not worth doing, a resident of Palo Verde

>> Am I the only one who doesn't think this is worth doing? We have so much more important landscaping work to do around the Bay to fortify and expand wetlands and on the coast to prevent erosion. And we need to plant trees all over the peninsula. Let's focus on that instead. It's just as fun and beautiful, and more useful.

I'm guessing that you, and some others above, don't realize that this isn't really a "project" from the Silicon Valley engineering viewpoint, but, instead, it is an -agreement- to put together paths and trails, over a long time period, so that they all work together and fit together in the end. Sure, some highly fit 20-somethings will no doubt run the entire thing from one end to the other. For the rest of us, it means that when two walking path segments (which I will probably use some of, since, I like to walk) are put together by two different political jurisdictions, the ends will meet. The result of which is that we avoid having those situations where we, for example, have to walk a mile to get 100 yards around some barrier, all the time thinking, "We didn't someone plan this better?" This is the better plan. The segments will get completed whenever. But, whenever they do get completed, the segments will work together better. OK?


5 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 26, 2019 at 12:23 pm

I agree that we don't have to walk the whole trail to enjoy sections of it. You also don't need to be 20 years old to bicycle the whole distance at once. The distance from Redwood City to Half Moon Bay is only 20 miles or so. I know plenty of 60-year-olds who are already bicycling from Redwood City to Half Moon Bay and back (usually via Kings Mountain Road and Tunitas Creek Road or maybe La Honda Road). Creating a car-free route will encourage even more people to get out and exercise. Now that electric-assist bicycles are becoming more affordable and popular, you don't have to be a super-fit senior citizen attempt this.

Building more trails makes our existing parks more accessible. Another article mentioned that many of our local parks (like Rancho San Antonio Park) are seriously overcrowded. Making other parks easier to visit can reduce that problem.


1 person likes this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2019 at 1:38 pm

Posted by resident, a resident of Mountain View

>> The distance from Redwood City to Half Moon Bay is only 20 miles or so. I know plenty of 60-year-olds who are already bicycling from Redwood City to Half Moon Bay and back (usually via Kings Mountain Road and Tunitas Creek Road or maybe La Honda Road).

Good points regarding distance. It really isn't that far and the projected routes won't be particularly long. Let's get started.


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