The Santa Cruz City Council has approved a 1.5-mile multi-use trail through Pogonip, the largest park and open space area within the city. The trail will provide another connection between town and the UC Santa Cruz campus.
The four-foot wide path will accommodate cyclists alongside pedestrians, equestrians and dogs. The new trail will reopen a 150-acre swath of Pogonip that has been closed to the public for several years.
First proposed in 2010, the trail plan drew a surprising level of controversy. Mountain bikers wholeheartedly supported it, while some hikers and conservationists expressed concern that further opening of the 640-acre preserve to cyclists might endanger pedestrians and result in more unauthorized trails being blazed.
Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz, a volunteer advocacy group, has pledged $25,000 to help complete and maintain the trail.
Supporters say the trail will help discourage illegal camping in a part of the park that has been overrun by vagrants, trash and drug use. Cyclists emphasize that the increase in recreational traffic would help runners and walkers, and especially women, feel safer through this corridor.