A new six-mile trail is open through the southwest portion of the La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve, a 6,100-acre sanctuary on the western slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains that includes grasslands, forests and some cattle ranching.
The trail, free and open to hikers and equestrians, is actually two trails the Herrington Creek Trail and the Folger Ranch Loop Trail. At the trailhead at 900 Sears Ranch Road are a restroom and a 22-space parking lot, said Cydney Bieber of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.
The new trails provide panoramic views of some 3,200 acres heretofore unseen by the public, Ms. Bieber said. The trails are dotted with interpretive signs about nature and local history.
Equestrian access is by permit only with horse-trailer parking at the Event Center about two miles west of the intersection of Sears Ranch Road and state Highway 84. The Folger Ranch trail will be closed after the winter's first heavy rain, Ms. Bieber said.
The preserve is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
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Click here for more about equestrian permits.
The district spent $1.2 million on the new trails, with funding from Measure AA, a $300 million bond measure approved by district voters in 2014. The project included rehabilitating ponds to provide water for cattle and for the breeding of California red-legged frogs, a threatened species. The district also removed invasive plant species and repaired roads to keep sediment out of creeks.
Hikers and equestrians may see cattle grazing at the preserve, an example of ranching traditions co-existing with recreational activities. This is the second open space district area to allow cattle and, since it is a working ranch, visitors must stay on the trails.
The upper portion of the preserve – the Allen Road entrance – has been open to visitors with a permit. Trails through the central area of the preserve are in the district's plans, with a tentative opening in 2020, Ms. Bieber said. The long term plan includes a system of 30 miles of trails, including connections to neighboring preserves.
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