New MTB Access in Marin County Proposed

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Ok, so this is BIG news. For those who don’t know, Marin County is basically where mountain biking was invented but for the last decade or so mountain bikers have been kicked off just about every trail in the area. Mount Tamalpais (Mt. Tam) in particular hosted many of the first (informal) mountain bike races and has been off limits to mountain bikes for years.

Now the California State Parks department is proposing opening 4 miles of trail in the foothills of Mt. Tam to mountain bikes and is soliciting public input. That’s where we come in.

Take a minute or two and fill out this comment form letting California State Parks know you support mountain biking in Marin County. Read more details below (from IMBA) so ya know what you’re talking about (also note the part about hiking and equestrian groups vowing to fight the proposal).

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California State Parks has announced a proposal to open singletrack for mountain biking in Marin County, on the shoulders of Mt. Tamalpais. The agency plans to permit bicycle use on the 4-mile Bills Trail segment and is soliciting public commentary on the project.

This landmark opportunity is the direct result of more than three years of partnership building with the parks department by IMBA California, Access4Bikes and the Bicycle Trails Council of Marin. A successful opening of Bill’s Trail will set the stage for bicycle access to several other singletrack trails in Marin, which is widely considered to be one of the birthplaces of modern mountain biking. Despite its historic role, Marin has seen precious few opportunities for mountain biking open to the public in recent years.

Take Action! Tell California State Parks you support their decision to open Bills Trail to bicycles. The commentary period ends on June 26.

Located within the Mt. Tamaplais watershed in Samuel Taylor State Park, Bills Trail winds through native ferns, wildflowers and hazelnut trees. It averages a reasonable 7-percent grade, and its six switchbacks provide riders with multiple views of the surrounding landscapes. While it is expected that bike access on Bills Trail will be limited to alternate days at first, the parks department states that this stipulation will be open to further review.

California State Parks is expected to announce opportunities for bicycling on other nearby routes in upcoming months. The Diaz Ridge Trail, which runs through Mt. Tamalpais State Park and Golden Gate National Recreation Area property, is scheduled to receive a major reroute this summer. This project could produce shared-use singletrack joining State Parks and National Park Service properties.

A small number of local hiking and equestrian groups have vowed to fight against any new access for mountain biking in Marin County, despite plentiful evidence that well-designed trails can be successfully shared by various user groups, and that mountain biking is a sustainable, low-impact form of recreation. “I think that, broadly speaking, the community of trail users in Marin is ready for this,” says IMBA California Policy Advisor Tom Ward. “We have seen great success with our volunteer mountain bike patrol program there. Mountain bikers care deeply about protecting the gorgeous trails and natural areas in Marin, and we will continue working with like-minded groups.”

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