View of the Pogonip

Vision Statement for the Pogonip

“Pogonip is a place to be appreciated for its natural beauty, habitat value and serenity, in contrast to the built environment. Pogonip should provide the community with education and recreation opportunities that are environmentally and economically sustainable.”

– from the Pogonip Master Plan

The new Pogonip Trail—an Update:


Parks Department staff, along with volunteers from the Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz, have been working since early May to begin construction of the new trail. They are starting from the northern end, heading south from the lower end of the U-CON Trail. The sign shown encourages volunteers. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)


The segment between the Rincon Road and the planned crossing of Redwood Creek is now well-flagged and brushed out. (This image may also be enlarged by clicking on it.) Potential issues needing attention include the following:

  • The current trail alignment adjacent to the Rincon Road could well encourage bikers to join the Rincon Road south of the gate (and then to head south into the rest of the Pogonip…illegally). What is intended is that bikers join the road to the north of the gate, so as to connect either with the U-CON Trail or to head down the road toward Highway 9 or the Rincon Connector Trail. more 

  • The current trail alignment near the lower end of the Haunted Meadow is quite close (about 30 yards) to the Fern Trail, with level and open ground between the two trails. This could well encourage (illegal) bike access to the Fern Trail from the new trail.

The Parks Department has prepared this Informational Report for the City Council meeting of June 12, when the City Council will likely be discussing budget issues. The report mainly relates to current estimates of timeline and costs for construction of the new trail.

A group of six of us met with Mauro Garcia and Meta Rhodeos on May 31 to discuss a number of topics of interest. Here are a few items that summarize the main topics of discussion:

  • A sub-committee of the Parks and Recreation Commission has been designated, consisting of Maria Gaura, Connie Bertuca and Richard Andrews. They will hold their first meeting on Monday, June 4, at 8:30 am, at the Parks & Recreation conference room, 323 Church Street. Observers may attend. Possible agenda items include the consideration of a “user committee” (a “stakeholders advisory committee”), as described in mitigation measure SER-1e in the Pogonip Master Plan.

  • Chief Ranger Heather Reiter is proceeding with working out issues regarding enforcement—an issue we'll be following up on.

  • Some wildlife surveys have been undertaken regarding nesting birds and wood rats. There are six or seven wood rat nests in the area below the clubhouse, and at least one Red-shouldered hawk nest. Trail construction (other than flagging and ground-clearing) will not start until after the young birds have fledged, and the trail will likely be routed to avoid wood rat nests.

  • Weather conditions for trail closure are under consideration. Meta is aware of the policy adopted by the Mid-Peninsula Open Space District near Palo Alto, which may possibly be duplicated here.

  • A visit from a representative from State Fish & Game is planned for June 12 to look at the crossing of Redwood Creek.

  • A geologist (not sure who) will consult regarding grading issues within the next month or so, when sufficient brush clearing has been accomplished so as to provide better access.

Please write to us if you have thoughts or suggestions.  less

A synopsis of City Council actions on March 27

Although the City Council approved the staff recommendation by a vote of 6-1 on a motion by Ryan Coonerty (seconded by Lynn Robinson) to proceed with the proposed trail, the motion was amended to include 8 conditions, put forth by Katherine Beiers prior to the vote.

A copy of the relevant page of the “Action Agenda”, which states the text of the motion (including the 8 conditions) is here. (The Action Agenda is posted before the minutes are approved and will be replaced by the approved minutes. The Action Agenda is an unofficial summary of action taken at the meeting.)

Among the conditions, all of which may be viewed as responding to our concerns, especially significant were these three:

  • Trail signs that include the minimum amount of fines;

  • Provide report on amount of costs prior to construction of trail;

  • Direct Mayor Lane to meet with the appropriate person from the County to start discussions regarding an alternate bike trail along the rail line from the City to an entrance at Pogonip.

Councilmember Beiers, working with Mayor Lane, displayed considerable skill in attaining approval of her 8 conditions as an amendment to the motion—even though she then voted in opposition to the final motion.

Sentinel reporter J.M. Brown was present throughout the hearing, and posted this article, a brief but straightforward piece describing what happened.

It is likely that in the absence of the many who worked to express our many concerns with the proposed new trail on the Pogonip, none of the conditions amended into the City Council's motion of approval would have occurred. Heartfelt thanks are owed to all who not only signed our petition, but also wrote comments and letters to both Parks Commissioners and City Council members.

We will be monitoring the process as it moves forward, continuing our watch on the Pogonip as volunteer stewards of this community treasure. If you'd like to help, please let us know.

Here's a thought:

At the end of the hearing on March 27, Councilmember Coonerty remarked that “EMUT” was the “least attractive acronym” he could imagine as a name for the proposed trail. Should we have a contest to name this new trail? Let us know what you think.


The Pogonip is a treasure

The Pogonip, 640 acres of natural open space and wildlife habitat, is a treasured public common in Santa Cruz, California. With its variety of redwood and oak forests, coastal prairie, many streams flowing from springs down steep rugged slopes toward the San Lorenzo River, with miles of trails and a rich history, the Pogonip is a unique open space, especially since it is immediately adjacent to our urbanized area. At the right is one of its few old-growth redwoods, never cut because it was too gnarled. (If you want to survive, be gnarled.)

Such places are rare, and should be valued and protected by members of our community. more 

Other nearby natural areas, especially Wilder, the upper UCSC campus, and DeLaveaga Park, provide ample opportunities for the mountain biking experience at all levels of technical difficulty. In those places, essentially every path is open to use by mountain bikers, and those that simply want to walk quietly or watch birds or look at wildflowers tend to avoid such places

Leo Marx wrote The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America in 1964. We need to keep listening to his words. We need to protect our gardens—our natural areas where humans can reconnect with other species—without the presence of machines.  less