Keep El Corte de Madera wild!

The fondly remembered Porsche 914. (Photo taken by Randy Miller during Patty Ciesla’s ’hookey ride’, June 6, 1997.)

News Flash: "Faceplant" has been closed; the new bypass is open instead



  1. Retrospective
  2. Current trail status
  3. How you can help
  4. For more information


In hindsight, it was inevitable that El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve would change. This land had once been logged extensively, leaving numerous road cuts that would later form trails. Prior to being acquired in the mid 1980s by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) the land was used by a local off-road motorcycle club ("PITS"), which formed an extensive network of trails. Many of these trails were later used by mountain bikers.

At first, the MROSD treated this preserve with "benign neglect", allowing the numerous singletrack trails in this beautiful area to remain wild. Several of these trails included fallen trees and steep, technically challenging descents. As a result, El Corte de Madera became one of the most popular mountain biking areas on the San Francisco Peninsula.

However in 1996 the MROSD, over the objections of most of the local mountain biking community, adopted (and began implementing) a comprehensive new trail plan. Several singletrack trails have already been closed. Several more will be realigned and/or ’sanitized’ in various ways: to widen them, remove obstacles, and reduce their steepness. Some new trails will also be built - in particular, to replace the "Pipeline" trail (which runs through private property at the northwest corner of the park).

The MROSD’s plan alters El Corte de Madera’s trail system to conform to the same width (4 ft. minimum) and steepness (25% maximum) guidelines that are in effect at its other open space preserves. This is illustrated by the "Manzanita" (aka. "Chinquapin") trail - a realignment of the original "Manzanita trail" - near the center of the park. This demonstration trail is scenic, with some spectacular views, but the (realigned) upper portion of the trail is smooth and wide - reminscent of Saratoga Gap.

Before drafting their plan, the MROSD put together a task force that - to their credit - included representatives from ROMP (the local mountain bike advocacy group). Not all of the final plan was unfavorable to mountain bikers. As a result of input from ROMP, the MROSD agreed to let mountain bikers build the new "Leaf Extension" trail (in the western end of the preserve) by hand, without the use of ’sanitizing’ trail machines. This trail will also be built to a width of 3 feet: 1 foot less than the MROSD’s usual standard for ’multi-use’ trails. (The existing "Leaf" trail will also be preserved at the same width.)

Current trail status (as of 2015.03.05)

Autumn 1997

Summer 1997

Spring 1997

Winter 1996-1997

Autumn 1996

Summer 1996

How you can help

  1. Although the MROSD is now well in the process of implementing their trail plan, you may still write them a letter, letting them know (politely) how you feel about the future of El Corte de Madera Open Space Preserve. The address is:

    Board of Directors
    Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
    330 Distel Circle
    Los Altos
    CA 94022

    Phone: (650)691-1200

    If you send email, add a note near the top of the message asking for it to be forwarded to the board.

  2. If you can, please vote for biker-friendly candidates for the MROSD’s Board of Directors.

For more information

Last modified date: 2015.03.05

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