Hiking trail access could widen under new Peninsula parks plan 

Visitors to San Francisco’s Peninsula watershed could gain better access to 14,000 acres of local land under a new Golden Gate National Recreation Area proposal to complete local segments of the Bay Area Ridge Trail and connect it to the California Coastal Trail.

For a map detailing future park additions on the Peninsula, click on the photo to the right.

The plan also proposes to increase access to Alcatraz and Muir Woods.

Released earlier this month, the 20-year plan would connect people with green space and national treasures in the local cluster of national parks — including Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Muir Woods National Monument — if adopted, according to spokeswoman Alexandra Picavet of the GGNRA.

“We want to make sure we can engage the community and other visitors to enjoy the parks,” she said. “From volunteering to education and maintaining trails, we are promoting enjoyment and understanding — even personal health.”

In San Mateo County, connecting people with parks would mean an emphasis on “connectivity, preservation and restoration of the area’s parks and ecosystem,” according to the plan.

The Bay Area Ridge Trail consists of 330 miles of existing pathways open to hikers, cyclists and equestrians around the mountain ridges of San Francisco Bay. There are still 120 miles left to connect and make the trail a complete circle through the Bay Area’s nine counties, including several miles in San Mateo County.

Access to land in the watershed, which is owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, is only available by a docent-led group because of health and safety regulations not expected to change. A visitor center in collaboration with the watershed is also proposed.

Yet, while there are no immediate plans to reduce the restrictions on public access to the watershed, the GGNRA would encourage completion of the proposed trails through the area.

“Within this zone, the park would promote completion of the Bay Area Ridge Trail connection from the Phleger Estate to Highway 92 and a new trail connection between the Bay Area Ridge Trail and the California Coastal Trail on the existing alignment over Whiting Ridge; this would connect Sweeney Ridge with McNee Ranch and Rancho Corral de Tierra,” according to the plan.

To reach their goal, the GGNRA is also in the process of purchasing 4,000 acres of land known as the Rancho Corral de Tierra, located between Moss Beach and the Peninsula watershed land, which would help connect the ridge and coastal trails years down the road.

“We still have a lot of learning to do about that land,” Picavet said of the 4,000-acre purchase. “We are starting the process of knowing what’s there and what needs to be restored.”

The draft document is available for public comment through Nov. 7. A final version is expected to be completed by spring and be presented to the regional director for approval by next fall.

Public comment

Meetings for the GGNRA draft management plan:

When: 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Fort Mason, Building 201, San Francisco

When: 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Ingrid B. Lacey Middle School, Pacifica

When: 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 4
Where: Tamalpais High School, Mill Valley

Source: Golden Gate National Recreation Area

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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