Project: Sugarloaf Mountain Open Space - City of San Mateo
Photo Albums: 1709-09 Sugarloaf Mtn PO Abatement and 1709-16 Sugarloaf Mountain
The Trail Center added to its list of new trail construction projects with the start of work on “Segment 3” at the City of San Mateo’s Sugarloaf Mountain open space, which adjoins Laurelwood Park. Segment 3 refers to a conceptual route from Sugarloaf’s master plan. This route will allow for a connection between the “grand junction” of several fire breaks/roads on the west side of the park and a switchback of the Amphitheatre Trail. This project will replace the lower two-thirds of an illegally built and poorly sited trail and bring the upper third of that trail up to a sustainable standard for grade and drainage.
Trail Center began the process of realizing this trail by collaborating with the city’s Park Planning Administrator Greg Meek to identify viable projects in the master plan in the fall of 2016. In January 2017 volunteers, including Dave Croker, Kathy, Judd and Bill, conducted several scouting trips to evaluate possible corridors, resulting in a flagging of “control points” for a proposed path. Greg Meek then made several visits to walk the path at various points in the spring and early summer to ensure there were no plant species of concern in the corridor.
In September, Kathy, Judd and Dave C. returned to the corridor and were happily surprised to find most of the flags from the winter were still in place. They made a few tweaks and added more intermediate flag to clarify the route.
On September 9, “Poison Oak Team 8,” consisting of Frank F and Frank H, Tom, Tim, Karl, Kathy, Judd, and Dave C (running Shindaiwa gas trimmer) worked to clear the corridor of significant stands of poison oak. Much appreciation goes out to this crew for being willing to take this on. Several of us donned the Tyvek bunny suits. We were able to complete the work by early afternoon. Frank H and Karl get special recognition for carrying the emergency water tank on their backs while following Dave.
On September 16, we hosted a work day for general volunteers. The main goal was to complete the remaining brushing and duffing required for the new corridor and to build a narrow starter tread. We were thankful the temperatures crested in the lower 70s, with the clouds lifting to reveal full sun as the day progressed.
We staged the trailer on the paved trail east of the restrooms in Laurelwood Park. We had a great turnout of around 25 volunteers, including a very game group of teenage boys. We all hiked to the use trail via the Salson Trail.
Dave Taylor’s crew worked on the segment that includes a switchback north of the existing trail. This segment passes through a mixture of meadow and mature oaks. They were able to remove a lot of duff from the future tread area, remove some remnant poison oak, and brush back their upper most segment. The teenagers did a bit of widening of a portion of the use trail that we’ll be incorporating into the final route.
Hank and his team of largely seasoned volunteers worked on the portion between the gully and the use trail. They continued behind Dave T’s crew to work on rough benching of that section, leading up to the first switchback.
Aaron’s crew worked on the south side of the gully, including around the turn with the oak/buckeye intertwined and on the oak and bay-shaded hillside. They completed lots of brushing and duffing. They had the most challenging terrain, as the corridor is on a steep hillside at that point. But the volunteers dug in their heels and completed the initial bench cut.
Finally, Bill’s crew worked duffing and brushing the southernmost segment. This segment has a few short stretches between trees that we’ll have to finesse and possibly supplement with some retaining walls to get a good grade and solid bench, but the crew got a great start. As is our convention, we did not clear the first 50 yards or so of trail from the future trailhead to discourage use before the trail is ready.
We’ll wait until after the winter rains have added more moisture to the soil to work on creating the full width and lateral grade for the tread. Also ahead is reworking the use trail that connects to an Amphitheatre switchback and completing a small switchback where the new route joins the use trail. We’ll also consider a potential structure for crossing the gully, and a design for the trailhead, which crosses a fire road drainage ditch.
Thanks to Larry for bringing snacks and drinks and to Kathy for volunteer coordination and helping Judd get the trailer out the east end of the park. Thanks also to Helen and Karl for contributing photos to the album.