Big Sur Land Trust Opens New Public Trail in Carmel Valley
“South Bank Trail” offers new recreational opportunity and connection to public lands as part of “Experience Carmel River”
Carmel, CA – Oct 06, 2011
The Big Sur Land Trust announced today the opening of the South Bank Trail, a 1.5 mile long ADA accessible pedestrian and bicycle path located on the south side of the Carmel River between the area near Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley and Palo Corona Regional Park. The Land Trust secured a $1.2 million grant from the California Resources Agency River Parkways Program (Proposition 50) to fund construction of the public trail which will be completed this week. The Land Trust also collaborated with the County of Monterey, which secured a grant to design the trail. The trail features both scenic inland and river views and provides an accessible alternative route to Palo Corona Regional Park. The South Bank Trail is part of a larger community-based vision for integrated planning of trails, parklands, restored natural areas and education sites in the Carmel River region.
“Enhancing access for the enjoyment of our natural environment is a key part of the River Parkways Program. It is gratifying to see public funds invested locally, in worthy projects like this one that have such tangible benefits for all to enjoy,” said John Laird, California Secretary for Natural Resources. “We at the California Natural Resources Agency are proud to support this trail development project which will help California families, youth and seniors get outside and explore the natural world.”
The South Bank Trail begins at the intersection of Rancho San Carlos Road and Valley Greens Drive in Carmel Valley. The trail starts on an existing paved private farm road and heads west, meandering off road onto a newly built GraniteCrete pathway that includes a beautiful view of the Carmel River, native vegetation, and a gentle grade that makes for an easy walk or bike ride. The trail gently climbs onto pasture land where it eventually meets the boundary of Palo Corona Regional Park.
“We see these trail projects as a means to connect generations of local residents and area visitors with the Carmel River and some of our most unique and beautiful landscapes, said Bill Leahy, Executive Director of The Big Sur Land Trust. “We hope these connections will inspire a new story for the river and its future, one that fosters a renaissance of community pride and caring for this special place. The South Bank Trail builds upon our collaboration with the community, local businesses, private landowners and local and state agencies to create a world-class system of trails and protected lands – what we are calling Experience Carmel River – that can be enjoyed and appreciated by all members of our communities for generations to come.”
In 2010 The Big Sur Land Trust purchased a trail easement from Jeff and Paula Taylor who own the Carmel Valley property on which the GraniteCrete portion of the South Bank Trail was constructed. The Land Trust contracted with Enz Construction of Hollister to build the trail working with GraniteCrete, a Carmel Valley company that produces a natural, environmentally-friendly trail material similar in look to decomposed granite. The County of Monterey secured local, state and federal grant funding to design the trail and cover permitting costs. Quail Lodge, Inc. donated an easement on the paved farm road portion of the trail to allow for public access from Rancho San Carlos Road.
“The South Bank Trail is an integral link of the planned network of trails which showcase the amazing natural resources of the Carmel River and can be enjoyed as users travel from Carmel Valley to our spectacular coastline,” said Dave Potter, Monterey County Supervisor. “I applaud all of the partners who collaborated with The Big Sur Land Trust to bring the South Bank Trail to fruition.”
The South Bank Trail is open to everyone for walking and cycling; horses and horseback riding are not permitted. Dogs are allowed on leash and a dog mitt dispenser is provided on the trail so owners may clean up after their pets.
The South Bank Trail project includes a small parking lot constructed on Rancho San Carlos Road. Up to 6 cars can be accommodated and a short path has been built leading from the parking lot to the South Bank trailhead. Other trail amenities include two benches, one situated with a view of the river, the other located at the west end of the trail. The GraniteCrete portion of the trail has been landscaped and seeded with native grasses, and over 100 native willows, sycamores, and cottonwoods will be planted alongside the trail. A new gate entrance on the farm road has been framed with Carmel Stone donated by the Santa Lucia Conservancy.
While no permit is required to use the South Bank Trail, a use permit is required to pass through the trail’s west gate into Palo Corona Regional Park. The public may obtain a permit from the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District (call 831-372-3196, or go to www.mprpd.org). The Park District and Big Sur Land Trust collaborated earlier this year on road and trail improvements at the park, installing over 4 miles of new trails on the front portion of the ranch. The South Bank Trail connects up with that trail system.
“The Interim Access Plan for Palo Corona Regional Park approved by the County of Monterey allows the District to offer additional permits to accommodate public use resulting from the South Bank Trail,” said Jim Sulentich, General Manager of the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District. “Hikers can now request permits to access the Front Ranch of Palo Corona Regional Park from either the South Bank Trail or Main Gate at Highway 1. The District is proud to have been a partner in this project and appreciates the added access permit capacity the South Bank Trail brings to the park while the District works diligently on the park master plan with the County of Monterey and other partners.”
Palo Corona Regional Park is open dawn to dusk; no dogs, horses or bicycles are allowed inside the park. A bike rack is provided at the terminus of the South Bank Trail so that those entering the park can safely leave their bikes behind for later pick up.
Visitors to Palo Corona Regional Park will also be treated to a series of new interpretive panels paid for by the Land Trust as part of the River Parkways Program grant. The Land Trust selected Leslie Stone and Associates to develop the storyboard for the panels and fabricate them. Four panels have been placed in Palo Corona Regional Park, one along the South Bank Trail and five others located in the new 32-acre De Dampierre River Trails Park located near Carmel Valley Village. The interpretive panels include stories about the native peoples who lived along the Carmel River, the generations of farmers who cultivated the river floodplain, and the animals and plants that today depend on the river and associated river lands for their survival.
“These interpretive panels are really works of art,” said Eileen Cross, Carmel River Project Manager for The Big Sur Land Trust. “They showcase the river as a place where people and nature connect.”
Beginning in 2004, The Big Sur Land Trust has been leading efforts with a diverse group of partner agencies, organizations and community members to build a comprehensive and collaborative approach to protecting and restoring the Carmel River and inspiring local community involvement. Based on a Vision Plan completed in 2005, Experience Carmel River is a vibrant, community-based program of public trails, educational sites and restored river front areas to safeguard the Carmel River into the future. Through the efforts of The Big Sur Land Trust and its key partners, a number of the program’s important goals have been reached. For example, the Land Trust has restored and completed trail work at the 32-acre De Dampierre River Trails Park property it acquired in 2006 near Carmel Valley Village and Garland Park and plans to transfer the land to the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District this year. The Land Trust is restoring a 13-acre riverfront property it acquired in 2007 at Schulte Road in Carmel Valley called the Songbird Preserve. In 2009 the Land Trust completed a land acquisition deal just west of Rancho San Carlos Road and Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley that included a conservation easement protecting approximately 10 acres of important Carmel River habitat, and the purchase of a 3-acre property for future use as a river education center. And last fall the Land Trust and agency partners completed the Hatton Trail at the mouth of Carmel Valley parallel to and east of Highway One.
Founded in 1978, the mission of The Big Sur Land Trust is to conserve the significant lands and waters of California’s Central Coast for all generations. In collaboration with partners and the community, the Land Trust has protected more than 30,000 acres of land since its inception. The Land Trust is committed to pursuing land and water conservation work that strengthens and our communities and inspires a stewardship ethic so that Monterey County can maintain its unique and special place in the world. The goal and commitment of the Land Trust is to pursue resource conservation that supports the well-being of land and people and sustains our region’s unique quality of life for us all. For more information visit www.bigsurlandtrust.org
- Contact Info:
- Rachel Saunders
- (831) 625-5523, ext 109