News Bill’s Trail Opens to All Users – April 24
Bill’s Trail in Samuel P. Taylor State Park will officially reopen as a bike-legal, multi-use trail on Friday, April 24, 2020!
Originally constructed in 1989, the four-mile trail was built to a multi-use standard, but until now, has been hiker only. Bill’s Trail becoming open to bike riding follows years of persistent advocacy and trail work from Marin County Bicycle Coalition, in collaboration with IMBA, Access4Bikes, and California State Parks.
The flowy stretch of singletrack traverses through a wooded canyon on the north side of Mount Barnabe in Samuel P. Taylor State Park, connecting Barnabe Fire Road to Devil’s Gulch Fire Road The trail is cut into the side of the hill and uses a series of switchbacks to maintain a consistent and shallow grade. Visitors will enjoy riding under a canopy of Redwood, Bay, and Oak trees, while enjoying the lush sword ferns and other native plants scattered along the edge of the trail.
The reopening of Bill’s Trail to allow for bikes is a momentous occassion as it is the first time since Marin’s trails were closed to bikes in the 1990s that a change-in-use request has been approved. This is a significant victory for MCBC and bike advocates across the state. Your behavior on the trail will determine its success as well as the success of future change-in-use proposals.
MCBC will continue to work closely with State Parks and other stakeholder groups to ensure a successful reopening of Bill’s Trail for all users, including hikers, walkers, runners, families, equestrians, and off-road cyclists. An official opening ceremony is planned for the summer or fall.
Exploring a New Trail During a Pandemic – Ride, Don’t Drive!
When Bill’s Trail opens on April 24th, the only way to access it will be to ride from your house. There is no parking allowed at Samuel P. Taylor State Park; this includes pull-outs along Sir Francis Drake Blvd. Marin’s Shelter-In-Place order states “individuals may access parks and open space areas that are local to their homes and are easily accessible by foot, bicycle or other non-motorized means, strictly for the purpose of engaging in exercise”.
While we anticipate many people will want to check out Bill’s Trail as soon as it opens, please consider waiting a week or two to reduce the risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus. If you do ride Bill’s Trail in April, please ride solo, wear a mask, and be prepared to pull over to let others pass–especially those on horse or foot.
With the Shelter-In-Place order currently in effect until May 3, all Marin County parks, including visitor amenities, are closed to vehicular traffic. Park rangers, sheriffs and CHP are citing cars parked at or near parks.
If You Go
There are a variety of ways to experience the newest addition to Marin’s bicycle trail network. You can start Bill’s Trail from Devil’s Gulch Fire Road and do an out and back. It is great in either direction. For those looking for a challenging experience, you can ride up Barnabe Fire Road from the Cross Marin Trail and drop onto Bill’s Trail a short distance from the summit.
The process to change Bill’s Trail, named for William “Bill” Lintow, a former park maintenance supervisor, as well as Bill Taylor, a Northern Regional Maintenance Specialist, to a bike-legal trail has been a long and arduous process, spanning fourteen years. A change-in-use request submitted to State Parks in 2006 started the journey and in 2009, State Parks approved the change-in-use and released a Notice of Exemption (NOE), finding that the project as proposed was exempt from CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act). The NOE was challenged by the Marin Conservation League on the merits that State Parks should have conducted a CEQA process. State Parks defended the project and announced a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR), the highest level of CEQA, would be conducted on the change-in-use proposal. They also announced a Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) would be created for a statewide Road and Trail Change-in-Use Evaluation Process. Both documents were released in 2012.
“Tom Ward, the California IMBA rep, was instrumental in navigating choppy waters and advocating in Sacramento to move the project forward. I was contacting him so often for progress updates that he started calling me ‘Mr. Bill’s,’ which I took as a badge of honor” said Tom Boss, MCBC Off-Road and Events Director.
In 2014, construction finally began. MCBC organized many volunteer trail days during the annual construction season, while the bulk of the work was completed by the California Conservation Corps and State Parks trail crews. To protect spotted owls and other endangered species in the park, construction could not start until late August and had to conclude by December. This, combined with the trail’s remote location, made for a slow process. Heavy rain events and wildfires also hindered progress. In March of 2019, State Parks announced construction was complete, which meant that after sitting through one more winter without impact, Bill’s Trail would be opening in Spring 2020.
IMBA – Tom Ward
BTC Marin – Jim Jacobsen, Don Johnson, Marty Peckins, Albert DeLima
Access4Bikes – Alex Burnham, Lisa Luzzi, Al Baumann, Vernon Huffman
California State Parks – Dave Gould, Danita Rodriguez, Victor Bjelajac, Alex Stehl, Karl Knapp, Bree Hardcastle, Cyndy Shafer and Mike Nelson
Forest Knolls Freewheelers – Randy and Barbara Libby, Brent Harris, Chris Ruedy, Jeff and Kathleen Vickers, Nick and Kris Cedar
Bill’s Trail TIMELINE
February 2006: With guidance from the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), and Bicycle Trails Council of Marin (now represented by MCBC), Access4Bikes (A4B) submits a letter to Tina Williams, Superintendent Mt. Tamalpais State Park, requesting the opening of four State Park trails to bikes, including Bill’s Trail.
May 2009: State Parks releases Notice of Exemption (NOE) for the proposed Bill’s Trail Change in Use, which would allow bike acces.
June 2009: Marin Conservation League, with the help of environmental attorneys, challenged the legality of the NOE.
June 2009: State Parks pulled the NOE, placing the change-in-use project on hold.
June 2011: State Parks releases a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Bill’s Trail Change in Use and Improvement Project.
September 2012: State Parks releases a Final Environmental Impact Report:Trail Change in Use and Improvement Project Samuel P. Taylor State Park.
March 2014: Construction begins to prepare the trail for multi-use, including the installation of a dozen rock riprap drainage structures, treadwork, brushing and pinch point installation.
2015-2019: Work continues at a slow pace due to short annual work season (August-December), Northern California wildfire events, and the remoteness of the trail.
March 2019: Construction is completed and a 12-month seasoning period begins.
April 2020: Trail reopens as a multi-use trail.
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