Le­gal­iz­ing moun­tain bik­ing in Santa Cruz County

Mountain Bike for Her - - Front Page - By Joh Rath­bun

Like Bri­tish Columbia, Santa Cruz County is a moun­tain bik­ing des­ti­na­tion. But, while Bri­tish Columbia rec­og­nizes moun­tain bik­ing as a valid form of recre­ational tourism, Santa Cruz County falls short. Santa Cruz County has a his­tory of un­met le­git­i­mate trails and bike parks us­age, with the re­sult be­ing a net­work of il­le­gal trails on the back­side of the Uni­ver­sity of Santa Cruz, Cal­i­for­nia (UCSC) and Henry Cow­ell, as well as moun­tain bik­ers poach­ing hikingonly trails in Wilder Ranch State Park, The For­est of Nisene Marks State Park, (Nisene Marks), The Land of Medicine Bud­dha, Santa Cruz City’s Po­go­nip Park, and Delaveaga Park.


The Land of Medicine Bud­dha is a monastery, and there­fore pri­vately owned. Up un­til three years ago, moun­tain bik­ers were al­lowed to ride through, as their prop­erty is ad­ja­cent to Nisene Marks. Un­for­tu­nately, a hand­ful of moun­tain bik­ers disregarded the rules of no night-rid­ing and quiet time con­sis­tently enough to ban all moun­tain bik­ers there for­ever. Nisene Marks’ lower trails are bike­friendly, but the higher ones like Hoffman’s, Wa­ter Tower and West Ridge are il­le­gal. On the other side of the Santa Ros­alita Ridge, though, is the So­quel Demon­stra­tion For­est which is one of the few legal places in the Bay Area that of­fer tech­ni­cal yet legal sin­gle­track. Map of Nisene Marks Rec­om­mended Ride: The lower trails like Aptos Creek trail are legal for moun­tain bik­ing. Santa Cruz City’s Po­go­nip Park has a his­tory of be­ing a hot-bed of heroin dens, with the re­sult­ing il­le­gal fires, toxic haz­ards left as trash, crime, and the city’s re­sources spent, The Moun­tain Bik­ers of Santa Cruz (MboSc), a non-profit that fo­cuses on multi-use trail ad­vo­cacy, ral­lied to get both Cal Fire and the City of Santa Cruz on board in de­vel­op­ing a multi-use

trail through the part of the park known as “Heroin Hill.” The re­sult­ing Emma McCrary Trail (EMT) is a tes­ta­ment to club, as well as to the out­door en­thu­si­asts will­ing to work with oth­ers to rid the park of such ne­far­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties. This is the first trail built in Santa Cruz County since the Uni­ver­sity Con­nec­tor Trail (U-Conn) went in 10 years ago. One can ac­cess that trail via Rin Conn in Po­go­nip, or via high­way 9, but be aware that any trail on UCSC’s prop­erty, and the ad­ja­cent Henry Cow­ell State Park is il­le­gal—and is de­grad­ing sen­si­tive habi­tat. Map of EMT at Po­go­nip Park Rec­om­mended Ride: The Emma McCrary Trail to the U-Conn Trail to Chin­quapin Road through Twin Gates into Wilder State Park. The rerouted Old Boar is some of the only, yet qual­ity sin­gle­track in that park. Santa Cruz City’s Delaveaga Park has about three dif­fer­ent trails of sin­gle­track that one can string to­gether to ac­cess the top of the park--’The Top of the World’-a world-fa­mous disc golf course’s vista of the Pa­cific Ocean. Since one must cross the golf course to loop the run, one is en­cour­aged to do an ‘out and back’ ride. Map of Delaveaga Park Rec­om­mended Ride: Red­wood Lower Loop to Bran­ci­forte Creek Trail to the Corona Trail, which takes you to the Top of the World, and down the Corona Trail to the En­chanted Trail to the Delaveaga Up­per Loop. So­quel Demon­stra­tion For­est is con­sid­ered a work­ing for­est—it’s used recre­ation­ally as well as har­vested for lum­ber—and is the only one with any

el­e­va­tion gain (2200’). With a net­work of tech­ni­cal ter­rain crawl­ing down the Santa Ros­alita ridge to­wards San Jose, “Demo” is where the Santa Cruz Su­per En­duro holds its race and is used all year by Bay Area rid­ers.

Map of Demo

Rec­om­mended ride: Up High­land Way, right at Buz­zard’s La­goon. Fol­low the fire road up ap­prox­i­mately 2 miles to ac­cess the Ridge Trail head. Fol­low Ridge trail to Saw Pit, and then back out and up Hihn’s Mill Road to Demo’s park­ing lot.


With Santa Cruz be­ing just over the hill from the South Bay/Bay Area—and a boom­ing pop­u­la­tion—our sleepy town is a des­ti­na­tion spot for the Val­ley. In­clud­ing the Coastal Red­woods, five dif­fer­ent mi­cro-cli­mates, and ob­scenely gor­geous beaches is the life­style that any out­door en­thu­si­ast craves. Be­cause of th­ese fac­tors, many big-named bike com­pa­nies call Santa Cruz home. The list en­tails: • Santa Cruz Bi­cy­cles • X-Fu­sion • Ibis • Fox Rac­ing Shox • Easton/Bell Sports • Spe­cial­ized (Mor­gan Hill) • Kali Pro­tec­tives (San Jose) Bou­tiques: • Caletti Calfee • Rock Lob­ster • The dude near the pumptrack With MboSC rid­ing their mo­men­tum, and from the sup­port of th­ese bike com­pa­nies,

over 20 years worth of ef­fort are fi­nally cul­mi­nat­ing in the first legal MUT built in 10 years—the EMT. In ad­di­tion to that suc­cess, the past few years have seen an ex­plo­sion of pump tracks in Santa Cruz County.

Aptos Pump track—be­hind Epi­cen­ter Cy­cling—at 8035 So­quel Drive in Aptos. The bike shop worked with MboSC.

Capi­tola Pump track—Ozzie Dog Park Inc is lead­ing the charge for the track on Mac­Gre­gor Drive in Capi­tola. It has not bro­ken ground yet.

Chan­ti­cleer Pump track—Chan­ti­cleer Park Neigh­bors worked with Scott Veach to build the track at 1975 Chan­ti­cleer Av­enue, Santa Cruz.

Fel­ton—Ve­loc­ity Bike Park—the first of its kind in the area—it will in­clude a pump track, dirt jumps, an air bag, and a flow trail. Planned on the Mount Her­mon Chris­tian Con­fer­ence Cen­ter at 37 Con­fer­ence Drive in Mt. Her­mon, funds have al­ready been al­lo­cated for the project and they are in the per­mit phase of de­vel­op­ing the park.

Santa Cruz County Polo Grounds Park (Polo Grounds)—dug and main­tained by lo­cals like the A Team—it’s lo­cated at 2255 Hunt­ing­ton Drive, Aptos.

West Side Pump Track—An­other Bike Shop and Santa Cruz Bi­cy­cles worked to­gether to man­i­fest this track on Ow Prop­erty. Con­ve­niently across from Santa Cruz Bi­cy­cles is at 100 West­ern Drive in Santa Cruz.

Scotts Val­ley Pump track at Sky Park— be­ing built this year with the help of the city of Scotts Val­ley, Cy­cle Sports and MboSC on Kings Vil­lage Road in Scotts Val­ley.

With only a hand­ful of le­git­i­mate sin­gle­track for Santa Cruz County and the South Bay — and with mil­lions of out­doorlov­ing en­thu­si­asts—MboSC has or­ga­nized and be­gan meet­ing that un­met need.

While MboSC has been around for over 10 years, it’s only been in the past five years that they’ve gained the mo­men­tum to cre­ate a moun­tain-bike friendly cul­ture in Santa Cruz County with the suc­cess of the EMT, the Santa Cruz Moun­tain Bike Fes­ti­val, and it’s off-shoot, the Santa Cruz Su­per En­duro. Mark David­son, Pres­i­dent of MboSC, said about the po­ten­tial pump track in Scotts Val­ley,“it has al­ways been a legal/in­sur­ance is­sue that needed to be re­solved and that should hap­pen very soon. We have to wait when PT con­trac­tor is in town and free, rent the equip­ment, and buy the dirt to get this done. Bell Sports and Fox Rac­ing Shox have con­trib­uted fi­nan­cially to this project—thank you— but we are still rais­ing funds. Scotts Val­ley Cy­cle Sport is host­ing a drawing for a bike for dona­tions to the pump track project. You can do­nate on­line or in per­son at Scotts Val­ley Cy­cle sport.” So, while we’ve cre­ated some mo­men­tum, we must con­tinue get­ting trac­tion through fundrais­ers, good­will among dif­fer­ent trail users, and sweat eq­uity. And just like Bri­tish Columbia, we won’t stop, be­cause it don’t stop.

Photo by Clay­ton Ryon

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