News

Open space district opens new Oljon Trail at El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve

New trail excites mountain bikers, signals completion of 18-year watershed restoration project

Silicon Valley Mountain Bikers President Sean McKenna, right, was one of the first to ride the new 1.3-mile Oljon Trail after the ribbon cutting in El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve on Sept. 6. (Photo courtesy Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.)

With a snip of a pair of comically large scissors, directors and staff at the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District cut a ribbon Sept. 6 to signal the opening of the new Oljon Trail, a new 1.3-mile trail segment in El Corte De Madera Creek Open Space Preserve.

The preserve, which already draws mountain bikers and hikers from the region with its 34 miles of trails and dense redwoods, now offers a new reason for its many visitors to venture onto its lush redwood-sheltered paths.

Chris Barresi, an area superintendent with the district who oversees the rangers of the preserves near Skyline Boulevard, said that the preserve has a unique draw for mountain bikers because of its high concentration of technical trails.

Just after the ribbons were cleared, an eager squad of mountain bikers took off down the well-groomed path, anticipating the hallmarks of a good trail: ups and downs, turns that hug the contours of the mountain, and the swerves and swoops that make riders feel like they're on a roller coaster and obstacle course at the same time.

At least, that's how mountain bikers Jill Henrich of Emerald Hills and Judy Silverman of Sunnyvale, affiliated with the Silicon Valley Mountain Bikers group, described their dream trail before they set off as some of the first riders to experience the new trail.

Early reviews of the trail posted online indicate that it offers a satisfactory, fun, intermediate-level ride.

The trail is named after the native people who first inhabited the area, according to district spokesperson Leigh Ann Gessner.

But the ribbon cutting symbolized something bigger than even a fun new trail to ride: It signaled the district's completion of an 18-year restoration project at the 2,906-acre preserve to protect the San Gregorio watershed.

The preserve is located just off of Skyline Boulevard, situated between the Purisima Creek and La Honda Creek open space preserves.

It's also known by many as "Skeggs," since for many years it was accessed primarily at a parking lot at the north side of the preserve called Skeggs Point.

(The lookout is named after Colonel John Hunt Skeggs, a Caltrans engineer who, during a career with the transportation department between 1919 and 1952, supported the construction of highways 17 and 35, as well as U.S. 101, and an El Camino Real widening project in the area, according to a book about the history of Highway 17.)

According to Gessner, the area had been heavily logged since the 1800s, and many of the old logging roads at El Corte de Madera Creek – which, fittingly, means "cut of wood" in Spanish – were eroding, causing sediment to build up in the creeks.

The area was also used heavily by motorcyclists before the open space district acquired the property in 1988. Many of the trails were overly steep, which, combined with highly erosive soils, increased sediment in the creeks, explained Ana Ruiz, general manager of the district, during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

That sediment had been threatening the habitat of protected fish species that access various creeks in the watershed, such as steelhead trout and coho salmon, and had affected their spawning patterns.

Much of the work on the watershed restoration project involved remediating land that had been environmentally impacted before the district acquired it. The long-term project involved 24 miles of road and trail work, 10 bridges, six puncheons or foot bridges, and 5 miles of decommissioned trails, Ruiz said. Early monitoring signs indicate that sediment is, in fact, being diverted from the waterways, she added.

The project involved partnerships with the National Marine Fisheries Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Regional Water Quality Control Board. The project also received local public support in the form of volunteer hours and dollars.

According to Aleksandra Evert, volunteer program lead with the district, volunteers helped to tamp, or pack down the dirt, as well as remove roots on the trail. They also helped to "duff" the trail – a term used to describe the process of bringing brush and leaf litter back to the trail to make it look more natural and help slow erosion.

The project was supported with funding from Measure AA, a $300 million general obligation bond approved in June 2014 by voters in the district that is used to protect, restore and enhance open spaces, as well as improve public access to such areas.

During the trail's construction, special consideration was given to the mountain bikers who use the trail system to provide them a safer way to get around the park than a common route that requires cyclists to exit the park and loop back via Bear Gulch Road and Skyline Boulevard, which can be, as one cyclist noted, "a little sketch."

"Building high-quality trails is one of the things MidPen does best," Gessner said. "It's an art and a science."

--

Sign up for Almanac Express to get news updates. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or show your support for local journalism by subscribing.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Angela Hey
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Sep 10, 2019 at 10:47 pm

Here's a map - the preserve is roughly opposite the top of Wunderlich for those who wonder where it is.

Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 11, 2019 at 11:00 am

Really great to see MROSD welcoming bicyclists to their preserves, especially since bicycles are mostly banned from San Mateo County Parks trails. Bicyclists are county residents, too.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Legends Pizza Co. replaces Palo Alto Pizza Co.
By Elena Kadvany | 10 comments | 2,647 views

What is a "ton" of carbon dioxide anyway?
By Sherry Listgarten | 14 comments | 2,267 views

HIIT
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 986 views

Living as Roommates? Not Having Much Sex?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 623 views

 

Support local families in need

Your contribution to the Holiday Fund will go directly to nonprofits supporting local families and children in need. Last year, Almanac readers and foundations contributed over $150,000.

DONATE