Dear City on a Hill Press,
In regards to the recent feature in City on a Hill, “Photo Essay: Mountain Biking,” I have to say I’m disappointed in your advertising of the trails behind UCSC. For the record, all single-track trails are illegal. Most are on either UCSC ecological preserves — most trails between fire roads — or on Henry Cowell State Park property, the ones that drop down to Highway 9 and are periodically patrolled. None are authorized. In fact, the trail photographed in the story is a trail that has been destroyed in the past by rangers upset at the dangerous, built-up stunts. The only legal trails are the fire roads, and not even all of them. Furthermore, there was no mention of Wilder Ranch, across Empire Grade, or Nisene Marks and the Soquel Demonstration Forest in Aptos, all legal and quality alternatives to riding unauthorized and illegal trails on campus.
This is important because many new mountain bikers or incoming students will have this article as their introduction to mountain biking, a much more complex issue than this story provided, which simply said: “There is a lot of fun riding, and by the way, some is illegal and be careful.” Respect for trails, property, the land, hikers and other mountain bikers, is not discussed aside from saying in passing, “Stay on the right trails.” As someone who grew up riding these trails and learning about them, I’m put off at the idea of riders on them with no proper introduction. I’ve encountered complete idiots with no regard to fellow mountain bikers, the trail or themselves — they were riding Dead Campers, the most treacherous trail on campus, with no helmets — as well as sour hikers who no doubt have grudges against mountain bikers because of unfortunate encounters.
The trails above campus as well as the mountain biking community always welcome new riders. However, they must be respectful and understanding that this is not just a really fun backyard (which it is), but a bunch of tolerated, but illegal, trails.