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Protection of our Natural Resources-Trails Management

Published on: 6/13/2014 1:16 PM
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Trails Program:


The Santa Clara County Parks’ Trail Program is part of the Department’s Natural Resource Program. Trails construction and providing access to the public into the natural areas of Parks, can have a tremendous impact on natural communities, wildlife and natural processes required for species to survive and thrive. Thus, the Trails Program is managed under the Natural Resource Program, so the Department can best balance resource protection and management goals with appropriate, safe public access. This way we can provide access to the special places of parks, while still protecting them into the future.

The goals and objectives of theTrails Program is to provide standards and guidelines for trail design, maintenance, construction and management so trails are sustainable over the long-term, require low maintenance, allow for safe public access, protect the natural and cultural resources and meet recreational needs of the park user.  The Trails Program is aimed at applying sound trail construction and maintenance principles, combined with resource protection and preservation to meet park mission and goals for the park users to enjoy and be inspired by these Regional park lands.

Trails are park facilities similar to restrooms, campsites, parking lots, and roads. They are developed to provide access to the natural, cultural and scenic resources of a park without damaging those resources, and to enhance the visitor’s enjoyment of those resources.

Share the Trail
If you’re headed out on one of Santa Clara County Parks’ many shared-use trails, it’s important that you understand trail etiquette - and share this understanding with those you enjoy the trails with. Good trail management (layout and design) combined with user education and the understanding of respect for all trail users, means a more enjoyable experience for everyone who uses County Parks’ trails. Not all trails are shared use, but when you head out to enjoy these trails, please practice these principles. If you’re enjoying trails with others (especially first-timers), whether it’s hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding, it’s your responsibility to teach them. Pass it forward, so all can have an enjoyable experience to these special, natural areas.

Follow these simple steps when using shared-use trails:

Shared-trails Photo

Share the Trail: Bicyclists should yield the right of the way to those on horseback.

  1. Respect & expect other users. Anticipate other trail users around corners and blind curves. Respect wildlife - you’re traveling through their home. Respect public & private property. Leave no trace & pack out litter.
  2. Be friendly and courteous. Greet other users with a friendly “Hello!” or “Nice day!”
  3. Yield ToRunners and hikers should yield to equestrians. Bicyclists should yield to everyone. Downhill traffic should yield to uphill traffic. When in doubt, give other users the right of way
  4. Announce yourself when approaching others, especially from behind. It’s often helpful to give other trail users information such as, “Two more behind me.” Use your voice to warn equestrians, not bells or horns, or other devises that may frighten horses. When a horse approaches, move to the safest or most open side of the trail or ask the rider for instructions. If you’re in a group, avoid blocking the trail. Use caution and stay alert, avoid using headphones or earbuds - you may not be able to hear others.
  5. Stay on the trail. Creating your own path or cutting switchbacks creates erosion, damages habitat and natural resources, and may lead others into sensitive areas such as den and nest sites. 
  6. Don’t use the trail when it’s wet! Give the trail a chance to dry and recover after rainstorms. Hoof marks, wheel tracks, and footprints have drastic effects on wet trails, and can begin a process of erosion which is difficult to reverse. Check the Trails Hotline (408-355-2200 7#, and select the park you will be visiting for current trail conditions. You can also call the specific park office and check the park website for current conditions.
  7. Operate within your ability at all times. For example, if you’re new to mountain biking, keep your bike under control. Situations can get out-of-control fast if you’re not attentive!
  8. Be considerate, keep dogs leashed and under control at all times. Other trail users don't know your dog is friendly, and you may not know how other dogs will respond to your dog when they approach on a trail.
  9. Be prepared. Bring water, snacks, maps, a light source, and other equipment you may need. Think ahead and bring the essentials. Cell phones are an excellent idea, but batteries can die and accidents can happen in areas with no cell reception. Know where you’re going, and tell someone else your plan.
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