3 Gaps Trail Initiative Update Azalea Hill Approval Confirmed; Work Could Begin this Summer

The Azalea Hill Project was unanimously approved by Marin Municipal Water District’s (MMWD) Board of Directors on May 14 and recently cleared the 30-day appeal period without protest, making the project’s approval official! The victory is a true milestone for MCBC’s Off-Road Program, following years of relationship-building, good planning, community support, and perseverance. And it is the first 3 Gaps Trail Initiative project to move forward!

When work is complete, all trail users will have a safe connection between Bullfrog Fire Road (near the Bon Tempe Dam) and the Azalea Hill parking lot above Meadow Club Golf Course. This new route will provide better connectivity from the Mt. Tam Watershed to Pine Mountain Fire Road, San Geronimo Ridge, and the Carson Falls/Oat Hill area above Kent Lake.

The two-mile trail is completely immersed in nature and will offer spectacular views. We recently visited the site to take a few photos of the future alignment:

How we got here

For decades, there have been efforts to create bike access on Azalea Hill, which is located above Alpine Lake. In 2005, MMWD identified Azalea Hill as an area in need of habitat restoration and trail improvements. In 2011, MCBC initiated walking tours of the area with other stakeholders, including conservation organizations and equestrian clubs, to see if the existing hiking and horse trail could be realigned to also support mountain biking.

After additional walks and stakeholder meetings, and talks with MMWD, consensus formed around an alternate route utilizing Liberty Gulch Road. Much of the road–named for a dairy ranch near Alpine Lake to which it led–still exists and is used by hikers and fishermen, but connections from both ends are narrow and unsustainable.

We want to give a big “Thank You!” to everyone who came out to several meetings and walks as the project evolved, including many student-athletes from the NorCal High School Cycling League who spoke eloquently about the project’s safety and environmental benefits. We would also like to acknowledge MMWD staff and Directors for their dedication throughout the process, as well as Marin Conservation League (MCL) for their support. We look forward to working with MCL and others to make this a win-win project that improves trail access and restores habitat.

Next steps

Now that the project is approved, planning and fundraising work is underway. Work could begin this summer and include trail construction, bridge building, drainage work, and habitat restoration. There will be several opportunities to contribute to this project; watch for MCBC Trail Stewards volunteer days later this summer!

next up: Easy grade trail

MCBC’s 3 Gaps Initiative identified key gaps in Marin’s trail network that force people on bikes to use narrow paved roads with no shoulders and fast moving vehicular traffic. Azalea Hill will be the first to get underway. The next project to likely move forward is the Easy Grade Trail, which would connect Pantoll Station with Mountain Theater and Rock Springs Fire Road. State Parks is hosting a public information session and walk regarding the status of the project at noon on Wednesday, July 17 at the Mountain Theater. All are welcome to join the update and tour. RSVP by emailing Tom Boss at tom@www.marinbike.org.


We’re excited to build on this momentum with several more projects that will increase access and improve trail connectivity, headlined by our campaign to create new gravel and mountain biking opportunities in Pt. Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s public lands and on Big Rock RidgeAre you with us?

MCBC’s work to make bicycling more safe, fun, and accessible relies on your generous giving. Please support the organization making your rides better by joining us today, or making a one-time or recurring gift to MCBC’s Off-Road Program.

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