Trail
Head
Trail Center logo
Contents

Bridge Building at Jasper Ridge

Trail Center Announcements

Congratuations to Craig, Tarna and Emma Beckman

Trail Companion News

Trail Center Web Site Moves

A Big Thank You!!

Membership Drive

Donations

Upcoming Trail Builds

They're Baaaack!

President's Column

Steps to Build: A National Trails Day Experience

Pristine Coastal Ranch Secured for Open Space

Trail Center Profile Part Two: Universal Trail Assessment

The Trail Companion

Current issue

Back Issues

Guidelines for Submission


The Trail Companion (ISSN 1528-0241 (print); 1094-222X (online)) is the quarterly newsletter of the Trail Center.

Editor: Scott Heeschen
Staff Writer: Geoffrey Skinner
Resources

Trail Center Info
Calendar & Activity Guide
Trail Building
Volunteer!
Mission
Maps & Publications
Mapping
Newsletter
Who We Are
Services
Membership
Outdoor Recreation Guides
Photo Gallery
Links
Site Map
Credits
Contact Us

Trail Center
3921 E. Bayshore Rd.
Palo Alto, CA 94303
Ph.: (650) 968-7065
info@trailcenter.org

The Trail Companion

July/August 1996

Bridge Building at Jasper Ridge

A brief glimpse of a sharp-shinned hawk, accompanied by the warning call of a warbler...

      The feel of a 16 foot 4 by 8 wooden plank resting on my shoulder as I enjoyed the view of the surrounding meadows of grasses...

      The taste of a berry nearing its peak of ripeness...

      The feel of ice cubes being tossed down my shirt while I tried to answer a volunteer's question...

      Every trail workday has its unique moments, and those were some of the ones I experienced at our latest workday at the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. I was the workday supervisor (or "supe du jour") on June 22, leading a group of four crew leaders who were, in turn, leading a group of about twenty volunteer trail builders.
      The trail work for this day was unusual in that we were beginning work on an eighty foot bridge spanning two channels of a stream. The work required a lot of planning and a lot of lumber. The basic bridge building layout was drawn: piers made of railroad ties would be spaced every eight feet along the crossing; the ties would be laid on solid ground perpendicular to the direction of the trail and held in place with metal pipes pounded through and into the ground beneath them; on top of the wooden ties, in the direction of the trail, we would place two rows of stringers, sixteen foot long four by eights, and three feet apart; and topping the stringers would be three foot planks which would constitute the "tread" of the trail.
      Almost all of the work we did this day was centered around the bridge. One group of workers planned the placement of the piers, another group hauled the material to the worksite, and another group cleared the trail between the bridge site and where the materials were. I helped haul one of the stringers to the bridge site. The task of carrying the 16-foot stringers to the worksite took four people. We made sure we lined up from tallest to shortest otherwise the weight wouldn't be well distributed; when we started up a hill, the front and back person got the brunt of the weight, and when we crested a hill, the people in the middle got most of the burden. There were times when the stringer was inches off my shoulder, and others where it was several inches below my shoulder (ugh!). Also, we had to carry it over a quarter of a mile. We rotated people between planning and hauling to help balance the effort mentally and physically. I was happy just to watch and supervise after helping to carry one stringer.
      As workday supervisor (on the rare occasions it actually happens), I get to experience and see everything that is happening along the trail. The job involves a lot of trail walking to see all the different worksites, and a lot of watching, listening, and talking to make sure that everything is going according to plan. It felt good to have a lot of experienced crew leaders out on this workday because that helped things move along more easily. There's plenty more work to be done on the bridge. We'll be back out at Jasper Ridge on August 24.

Scott Heeschen


Trail Center Announcements

Congratulations to Craig, Tarna and Emma Beckman

      Congratulations to Craig Beckman, board member and newsletter activities editor, and his wife, Tarna, on the birth of their first child, Emma, born on June 27, 1996. She weighed in at seven pounds, six ounces. Coincidentally, Craig's birthday also falls on the same day!


Trail Companion News

      Jennifer Gardin will be going on sabbatical from her Trail Companion Newsletter graphics work to await and prepare for the birth of her child due in August. We, at the Trail Center, wish her well, and we're grateful for all her help. In Jennifer's absence, the graphic work will be carried on by Linda Magyary. Linda, a Sierra Club member, has been a Bay Area resident since 1988 and a freelance graphic designer for six years. Welcome, Linda!


Trail Center Web Site Moves

      Thanks to Walt Schilling of NetMagic, the Trail Center has a new Web address: http://businessweb.com/trailcen/index.htm. Make sure you update your bookmarks! [WARNING! OUTDATED INFO]


A Big Thank You!!

      Our heartfelt thanks go to: Tracy Wright for taking time out of her busy schedule to provide invaluable computer expertise; Jennifer Gardin for her wonderful graphic art work; and to our incredible office volunteers, Carol Adams, Dorothy Bell, Yvonne Duncanson, Ora Drum, Helen Ergil, John Rabe, Linda Rabe and Joyce Todd. We couldn't do it without you!
      A special thanks to the very special folks at the Morgan Center in Los Altos for their many hours spent stuffing, sealing, stamping, and labeling for our 1996 membership drive. You share in our success!
      A hearty thank you goes to Dick Teater who, in response to our Wish List, donated an updated version of Filemaker Pro to the Trail Center office.



Membership Drive

      If any of our current members received Trail Center membership solicitation letters, we apologize. However, if you did receive one, you could be a good friend and pass your copy on to someone who might like to join our organization. Thank you!


Upcoming Trail Builds!

      Volunteers needed, early responses will win a prize!

July 20... Arguello Park, San Carlos
Aug 24... Jasper Ridge, Stanford University

     All of our projects begin at 8:30 am and end at 2:30 pm (summer hours through 9/14/96) Call Sandy at the Trail Center office to respond and for directions.




They're Baaaack!

Welcome back salutations to Tim and Pat Oren! Voilá! Out of nowhere, they mysteriously appeared at a Jasper Ridge trail build! For nearly 10 years, both Tim, who served on the board, and Pat , who worked on the crew leader training and lent extensive help in the office, were active members of the Trail Center until about 2.5 years ago when they "relocated to other parts of the country," as Pat says. Recently, Tim accepted a job in San Francisco and they moved back to the Half Moon Bay area. They've been joining trail projects at Arguello Park and Jasper Ridge since spring. It's wonderful to have their know-how, expertise, and homemade cookies back on the trail!

      The welcome back mat is also extended to Cathy Sewell, a former Trail Center board member, who once again joined our ranks to work on trail projects as a crew leader and trail builder. Her extensive trail building skills, and leadership and people skills are an indispensable asset to the Trail Center.


President's Column

On one Saturday a few weeks ago, I led a group of nine volunteers building a stretch of trail in Arguello Park. The weather was hot, the dirt hard, but all in all we built a good trail. I was proud of the work and of all the volunteers who came out to help... The next day, I was biking up Page Mill towards Moody Road, and a car slowed down beside me. The woman driving asked how to get to Memorial Park. After giving her directions, she drove off, and I reflected, "Nice park. I've helped build trails there"... Later in the bike ride, I was on some fire roads in Stevens Creek and Fremont Older. I was happy to see all the people -- hikers, bikers, equestrians, families -- out taking advantage of the weather and enjoying the trails...
      Just one weekend with several trail related incidents. True, these weren't coincidences -- I chose to go out and reflect on these trails -- they're more like opportunities. The trails are there, all over the Bay Area. I consider myself very fortunate to be living in an area that, although highly developed, has dozens of different parks within a short distance. I've already got an idea for which trails I'll be visiting this weekend. I encourage you to take advantage of the surrounding opportunities also. Enjoy!

Scott Heeschen


Steps to Build: A National Trail Day Experience


      This was my second National Trail Day with the Trail Center. This year's project involved connecting partially built steps to the main road that runs through Arguello Park in San Carlos. The day started well because there were lots of volunteers, including about twenty from Community Impact.
      A month earlier on California Trail Day, Craig Beckman's crew, of which I was a member, began the difficult job of building the steps that this workday had the potential to complete. Since I was the only one who had worked on these stairs before, I was assigned to the "stair crew" with Cathy Sewell as leader.
      Building stairs is something with which the Trail Center has had little experience, but we are always up to taking on new challenges. The City of San Carlos graciously provided railroad ties (with holes drilled in them) and rebar stakes. With materials in hand, the engineering work began. The task required that we rise nearly ten feet with ten or so steps. This would not have been a big problem, but the hillside was rounded, and we could not just build a straight run of stairs. Rock supports along the outside of the steps were needed. Additional rock was also needed for filling in beneath the railroad tie steps. Fortunately there were several large rock outcrops nearby from which flat pieces of rock could be quarried.
      Placement of the railroad ties was critical. Starting at the bottom of the hill, each tie had to be level and even with the top of the tie below it. Each member of our crew took turns driving the rebar stakes through the support rock and into place. Our calculations indicated that we needed to have a 14 inch run on each step. We knew this was correct when the last tie went in at street level. What satisfaction it was to see the job completed. Building the stairs was a lot of work, but it was loads of fun!!
      I want to thank the Trail Center staff, Community Impact and all volunteers for their efforts in organizing the workday and then completing it. A special thank you to Tim for his engineering skills and to Cathy for her effective leadership of our crew.

Darwin Poulos


Pristine Coastal Ranch Secured for Open Space

A 5,638- acre property on the San Mateo County coast may someday be transformed into a public park with trails for hiking and horseback riding.
      The Peninsula Open Space Trust recently negotiated a three-year option to purchase the Cloverdale Coastal Ranch from the Crummer family of Los Angeles for $7 million. The nonprofit, Menlo Park-based conservation group hopes to transfer the property to the state parks department in the future.
      One of the largest parcels ever acquired for conservation in California, the 8.8-square mile property covers nearly 1.5 miles of coastal beaches and tide pools, 1,000 acres of redwood forests, 14 miles of stream corridors, 4,500 acres of grassland, and 250 acres of agricultural land. Bordered by Pigeon Point on the west, Gazos Creek on the south, and Pescadero to the north, the property connects Butano and Cascade Ranch state parks and Año Nuevo State Reserve on the east, creating an unbroken 11-mile stretch of protected land.
      The Cloverdale Coastal Ranch was logged in the late 1800s and has since been used primarily for grazing and agriculture. It was purchased in the 1960s by Roy. E. Crummer, a Southern California businessman. After Mr. Crummer died in 1969, the land passed to his grandchildren who wanted the land preserved. The family spent four years looking for a suitable buyer. Finally, in order to protect it from development, they lowered the price below market value to sell it to the open space trust.
      "We've had our eye on the property since 1980 and weren't able to act until they lowered their price," said John Wade, director of land protection for the trust. In its 19-year history, the trust has saved more than 27,000 acres for open space on the Peninsula, including the Phleger Estate north of Huddart Park and the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve.
      The trust has three years to raise the $7 million for Cloverdale, which will come mostly from private donations. During that time, they will study the land's soils, wildlife and other resources to determine the best way to protect it. "We'll also be planning the types of trails and where to locate them," said Wade.
      "Although it won't be accessible to the public for another three years, you can see a fair amount of the property from Highway 1 and Cloverdale Road," Wade explained.
      Traveling south on Highway 1 about a mile north of Pigeon Point, the land stretches out to the east. The houses that are visible are not part of the property, but rather small parcels called "in-holdings." On the coastal side, south of Pigeon Point Lighthouse, crops such as beans, peas, leeks, Brussels sprouts, and pumpkins are cultivated by two tenant farmers who have lived on the land since the 1950s.
      The 250 coastal acres will remain farmland, but public trails will be provided for beach access.
      "One way to experience the beauty of this area is to drive up Gazos Creek Road and park on one of the many pull-offs along the way," said Audrey Rust, executive director of the trust. "My husband and I take the two dogs and head out there when we want to relax. You can walk for nine miles on the paved road surrounded by redwoods, and the creek is flowing year-round. It's a deeply peaceful place."
      In addition to its scenic beauty and agricultural value, the land supports a variety of wildlife including mountain lions, deer, bobcats, and migrating birds. It also provides habitat for steelhead trout and coho salmon, the threatened red-legged frog, and the endangered San Francisco garter snake.
      The Peninsula Open Space Trust is interested in your comments and suggestions about the Cloverdale property. Contact John Wade at (415) 854-7696.

Anne Bers


Trail Center Profile Part Two: Universal Trail Assessment

     by Ben Pease
      One of the highlights of this spring's Statewide Trails Conference was a Universal Trail Assessment Workshop presented by Beneficial Designs, Inc. (Peter Axelson, the founder of Beneficial Designs, was profiled by Judie Corrales in our June-July issue).
      Since 1991, Beneficial Designs has developed methods of measuring trail characteristics and distilling that data into simple maps, grade profiles, and symbols that can be posted at trailheads or visitor centers. Using this information, trail users of all abilities can make their own decisions as to whether a given trail is navigable based on their own abilities. This might include people using wheelchairs, but also families with small children, people with respiratory limitations, people with walking or endurance limitations, and inexperienced hikers -- many people.
      Also, park agencies can compare their trail databases to the Design Standards for Recreational Trails, guidelines which grew out of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Although these guidelines apply to new trails, they can help parks determine what level of access existing trails provide (a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush), and where small improvements could enhance access.
      Since 1994, Beneficial Designs has taught data collection skills to people and park agencies who wish to have this information for trails in their own area. Our workshop began at the Big Sur Ranger Station with an overview of the trail assessment process. Then we regrouped at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, 15 miles down the coast. The participants divided into several teams of six people; each team got to work with several Beneficial Designs staff over the course of the day.
      Some of the data collection was familiar to me from my work on the Trail Center Map Committee, but this was more detailed. One person measured the trail with a measuring wheel, setting a small flag at each corner or change of gradient. Two people took compass readings between flags, and measured the grade of the trail with clinometers. At each flag, team members measured the cross-slope of the trail with a digital level, and measured the width of the trail. Another person measured the height of rocks and roots protruding into the trail, which could be obstacles to wheelchair use. We also noted whether the surface was paved, hard, firm, or soft underfoot. Where appropriate, we also measured maximum grades and minimum widths which occurred between the flag-to-flag measurements. At first, collecting all this information was slow and confusing, but in time we picked up speed. Ideally, teams include a park agency representative and a wheelchair-user.
      Our team began by measuring a new wheelchair-accessible trail, which crosses under Highway One, then traverses above a rocky cove. At the end of the trail we enjoyed a dramatic view of McWay Falls spilling directly into the crashing surf. The 1/4-mile trail was clearly designed to wheelchair-accessible standards, with a firm gravel surface, toeboards at the downhill edge, even grades not more than eight percent, and a width of at least sixty inches.
      Under the ADA guidelines, this trail would be rated "Easier." "Easier" by itself is a subjective rating, but here it is shorthand for a range of specific measurements. A level trail through deep sand can be as "Difficult" as a firm-surfaced trail which climbs vigorously, or a gentle trail with a severe cross-slope. Some of Beneficial Design's research has been how best to balance all these factors. The specific data, posted on flat sided posts, at the trailhead would tell you all the variables that make up that rating.
      After lunch, our team joined Peter Axelson on a short, steep footpath beside the picnic area. This path weaves between redwood trees as it descends along McWay Creek. The surface was generally firm under the redwood duff, but the grades were often steep: eight to fifteen percent (eight percent is the maximum grade for new wheelchair ramps and accessible paths). The trail would have been difficult in a standard wheelchair - Peter's chair was more stable due to its low center of gravity, long wheelbase, and bicycle brakes. Peter quizzed us on potential obstacles such as rocks, roots, and dips. One obstacle was that the footbridge across the creek ended with a large step. Peter sailed across this drop, landing with a bump and a grin. Shortly, we joined the first trail near its starting point and returned to the picnic area.
      Under the ADA guidelines, this path's grades and widths would be rated "Difficult," but the firm tread (softer than hard or paved) would nudge the path into the "Most Difficult" category. The bridge step might not increase the rating in this instance, but would be mentioned.
      After the data is collected, Beneficial Designs runs it through their computers to generate maps, grade profiles, and other information. Information can be displayed as signs, panels, brochures, and on CD-ROMs or audio tapes, depending on the needs of the agency and the users.
      Phyllis Cangemi, of the organization Whole Access, is wary that some park agencies may use the data only to say "This is how it is," and not make their trails more accessible. In some cases that may happen. But collecting data and evaluating trails versus the ADA standards, will give many agencies, and citizen activists, a firm basis from which to effect improvements.

      The Universal Trail Assessment process could be of great use on the Peninsula, where there are many existing accessible trails but not much objective, detailed data about them.
      For instance, when I updated the Trail Center's Disabilities Access list several years ago, I described a dozen or more trails which the park agencies call accessible but without measurements, I couldn't tell you anything concrete about grades, cross-slopes, widths, surface hardness, and so forth. Then there are miles of bike paths and fire roads, which may be suited for wheelchairs. But can you fit a wheelchair through the entrance? Are there steep grades? Soft spots? Drop-offs?, Without measurements, I couldn't tell you for sure. And what about all those wheelchair-accessible stiles we see at trailheads nowadays? How far can a person using a wheelchair get down a particular fire road? For now you're on your own. But if even the first mile of those roads were measured to be reasonably accessible, that would be a lot of "new" trail. If they were found to be awful and miserable, at least we'd be able to clearly say so, and why. There's lots of room to improve this list, but doing so would require a lot of measurements, and teamwork.
      Universal Trail Assessment could be a good opportunity for Trail Center volunteers to collaborate with local park agencies, Beneficial Designs, and the wider community. This is just a trial balloon -- we have not yet committed to any meetings or training. If you're interested in volunteering for this sort of field work, and the organizing thereof, send us a postcard and let us know. If you want more information on the Universal Trail Assessment process, you can call Beneficial Designs at (831) 425-3819.



     
Trail Center logo
Copyright © Trail Center. All rights reserved.

Please contact the Web Manager for corrections or comments.