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Sharing Monterey County Parks and Other Public Lands: Administration, Care, and Use

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  • The post below was first published October 31, 2017.
  • On November 2, 2017, two updates were made:  (1) Link to and comments about the November 1, 2017, Voices of Monterey Bay story by Royal Calkins, “A Toro Timeline.” (2) Info about misleading brochures on the Monterey County Parks website regarding the types of recreational activities allowed in county parks. 
  • The post was republished on April 6, 2018 with a link to an April 5, 2018 story by Jim Johnson in the Monterey County Herald, Toro Park trail conundrum revisited.” It was updated again with a link to an April 19, 2018 story by David Schmalz in the Monterey County Weekly, “Trail Report: While pros dominate at Laguna Seca this weekend, long-term trail projects – and questions – for local cyclists are inching forward.
  • On March 27, 2019, this post was updated with confirmations that the county’s brochures referred to in the post do still include the same misleading information. Links to those brochures are provided below.
Voices of Monterey Bay is a news source launched by veteran local journalists Mary Duan, Joe Livernois, and Julie Reynolds Martinez in October 2017. Royal Calkins, a former editor of the Monterey County Herald, wrote an article published by VOMB on October 31, 2017, “Trail Mix: Parks officials lag in responding to feuding hikers and bikers.”
I encourage readers who bike, hike, or otherwise use Monterey County Parks and other public lands to read the Calkins article. It includes mentions of Santa Cruz County lands too, i.e., Wilder Ranch State Park, Soquel Demonstration State Forest (“Demo”), DeLaveaga, Pogonip, and Nisene Marks.
Lands in Monterey County that Calkins refers to include Garland Ranch Regional Park (pictured above—a park in the Monterey Peninsula Regional Parks District), Jacks Peak, Fort Ord, and Toro Park. On 11/1/17, VOMB published an additional report by Calkins, “A Toro Timeline: A brief history of bike trails in Toro Regional Park.”

Below, my thoughts in response to just 

some of the issues raised in “Trail Mix,”

including tips relevant for mountain bikers and other people who bike.
But first: about Monterey County Parks brochures, regarding the types of activities allowed.
Unfortunately, some of the Monterey County Parks brochures posted on our county’s website as of 11/2/17 [and still the same on 3/27/19] include misleading information. (For any updates or changes to their brochures, check with Monterey County Parks).
  1. The county’s brochures sometimes refer to “riding trails” when they mean equestrian riding trails, not mountain bike riding trails.
  2. The Toro Park brochure posted on the Monterey County Parks website as of 3/27/19 includes a misleading reference to Jacks Peak “riding trails.”
  3. And the Jacks Peak brochure posted on Monterey County Parks website as of 3/27/19 also refers to “riding” trails. (The truth is: At Jacks Peak, bicycling is only allowed on paved roads, not on trails. Bicycling Monterey is infull agreement with that policy for Jacks Peak—an oasis apart—and urges everyone to respect and abide by the existing regulations for Jacks Peak: bike only on paved roads at Jacks Peak, not on trails.) The Jacks Peak brochure text at lower right refers to “8.5 miles of riding and hiking trails.” They actually mean equestrian riding—not bicycle riding, which is only allowed on paved roads at Jacks Peak.
  4. In contrast, the Jacks Peak brochure’s description at its upper left about “Other Monterey County Parks” provides more accurate, specific info about Toro Park by referring to “Equestrian Riding Trails” and “Mountain Biking Trails.” Toro Park’s regulations allow both types of activities at Toro—although, as the VOMB articles by Calkins emphasize, there are unresolved challenges about Toro Park use and activities.
  5. For any updates or changes, go to Monterey County Parks.
You may be aware of similar concerns expressed over the years by Bicycling Monterey’s founder regarding administration, care, and use of Monterey County Parks. For example:
Monterey County residents: Communicate your preferences about administration, care, and use of Monterey County Parks to your district supervisor. For contact info and district maps:

Specific to mountain biking

To my knowledge, the first organized mountain biking group in Monterey County was Monterey Mountain Bike Association (MOMBA), an organization no longer active. Some MOMBA members helped prepare trails (e.g., Couch Canyon and the Goat Trail) for the first Sea Otter Classic, April 6-7, 1991, then known as the Laguna Seca Challenge.

I am not personally a mountain biker, preferring instead to hike in such areas. I bike primarily for transportation.

For the many people who do mountain bike in the Monterey Bay region, I refer them to leadership of Monterey Off Road Cycling Association (MORCA) in Monterey County and Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBOSC) in Santa Cruz County.

No organization’s core values and recommendations will be reflected in the attitudes and actions of all its members. Nonetheless, among MORCA and MBOSC members, there are some excellent role models for how to mountain bike responsibly and more sustainably. Their most dedicated, longtime members—people such as Henrietta Stern of MORCA and Mark Davidson of MBOSC—can answer your questions or refer you to other reliable resources.

Connecting with such leaders provides an opportunity to learn best practices from some of the most responsible individuals among the mountain biking community. While not eliminating impact, best practices reduce impact on wildlife, plants, and other trail users.

For anyone who feels mountain biking isn’t appropriate to be legal on any public lands, I encourage them to work through the appropriate legal channels that address land use issues. You might begin by contacting your county supervisor or organizations such as LandWatch Monterey County.

Henrietta Stern at Sea Otter Classic; see 2017 tales.

Some guidelines for mountain bikers and others

No matter what your own particular bicycle love is…

Whether you dig riding mountain, road, BMX, fixies, cruisers, or whatever, please bike polite and observe federal regulations (e.g., at Fort Ord National Monument), state laws, and local ordinances.
Bicycling Monterey’s Riding Skills, Safety, and CA Bike Laws page covers over 30 topics—including about share-the-trail harmony on the coastal bike /multi-use path and elsewhere. Regarding laws, besides info on California’s state laws, it includes some Monterey County ordinances—and highlights local ordinances on sidewalk riding because of the widespread confusion on that topic.
Bicycling Monterey’s 33-section DIRECTORY: Monterey County Bicycling Resources / Bike Community Leaders includes a wide variety of related information, including links to infrastructure contacts.
Please share the poster below, or others, to help more people find these resources.

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This post was first published on October 31, 2017. On November 2, 2017, it was republished with two updates:  (1) On November 1, 2017, Voices of Monterey Bay published a related report by Calkins, “A Toro Timeline.” (2) The brochures on the Monterey County Parks website currently—as of November 2, 2017 [and still the case on March 27, 2019]—include some misleading information about the types of activities allowed on park trails.

This post was published on 6 April 2018. One or more changes last made to this post on 25 January 2020.

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