Workshop and Meeting Report Open Space Region 3 Update

How Trails Get Developed: The first step in the Road and Trail Management Plan (RTMP) is to designate an initial/ baseline system of roads and trails for all 34 Open Space Preserves. The preserves are broken up into 6 Regions. So far, Region 1 (Mill Valley/Corte Madera) and Region 2 (Fairfax/ San Geronimo Valley) have gone through the process.

As a result, 3.5 miles of newly adopted and designated trails are now open to bikes or will be soon. Region 3 (between Lucas Valley and Indian Valley) is the next opportunity for MCBC and the public to participate in the trail designation process.

Following the initial regional designation process, stakeholders are able to submit proposals for new projects, such as a change in use, adoption of social trails and new trail alignments. MCBC has submitted four proposals to date, including the Bob Middagh Trail change-in-use and a proposal for a new trail in Mill Valley to bypass the steep climb over Corte Madera Ridge.

In August, Open Space held a Workshop for Region 3, which has great potential for developing enhanced recreational trail experiences due to its vast size and proximity to a number of communities, including Marinwood, Ignacio, Hamilton and Indian Valley. The abundance of steep, unsustainable fire roads and social trails in Region 3, provides an ideal opportunity to build a better, more sustainable, trail system with fun purpose-built trails and easier climbs up to Big Rock Ridge. Currently many of the fire roads have grades of 20% to 40%, which is much steeper than the preferred trail grade of 10% to 12%. Trails with lower grades are more accessible, and the chance of injury to riders and hikers is reduced. And the inclusion of grade reversals, berms and technical features make a trail fun regardless of the grade.

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At the August workshop, many local riders were concerned by the abundance of red lines on the map, which represent trail decommissions, and the lack of green lines, which represent new trail opportunities. Part of the challenge for Open Space is that the trail system in Region 3 is very primitive and is mostly made up of steep fire roads and fall-line downhill trails.

MCBC and Open Space believes Region 3 is an opportunity to build a much more functional and diverse trail system, with cross-country loops, road to trail conversions, and better connectivity between Big Rock and Indian Valley.

That was not adequately presented at the August workshop, and many locals became concerned with the blanket decommission of all steep trails on the north side of the ridge. Since the workshop, some have been advocating for the preservation of at least one downhill trail in Region 3. MCBC has been working with them to try and tackle the issue. To better understand what the people who live in Region 3 want, MCBC held a meeting last Thursday hosted by Bicycle Brüstop in Novato.

It was a lively discussion about the future of the region and of mountain biking in Marin. Some were adamant that Open Space should provide downhill/enduro trail opportunities and others felt that there should be more fun long-distance trails that close gaps and improve connectivity. By the end of the evening most people agreed to support cross-country trails and a regional route between Big Rock and Mt. Burdell. We also identified what enduro riders like about downhill trails, which will inform us as we consider how to accommodate this type of facility in Marin.

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We expect to see the final adopted Region 3 trail designation in the next few weeks. It will trigger the ability for stakeholders to start proposing changes in Region 3 and to start working with Open Space to improve the trail system.

Thanks to everyone who’s stayed engaged and to Bicycle Brüstop for hosting last week’s gathering. Watch for another MCBC meeting in North Marin after the New Year to discuss Region 4, which includes Mt. Burdell, Indian Tree, and Rush Creek.

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