To address increased popularity of mountain biking, the Park District is exploring additional bike access in Wildcat Canyon Regional Park.
Park District staff has identified a conceptual trail corridor that avoids or minimizes impacts to sensitive plant and animal communities based upon preliminary resource surveys completed in 2022. The results from these studies along with feedback from the community will be used to further develop a trail project that aims to benefit the park experience for everyone.
In 2020, the Northern California chapter of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), approached the Park District to share that the high school and middle school mountain bike teams in the area including Berkeley, El Cerrito, Albany, and Richmond are growing in parallel with the increasing popularity of mountain biking nationwide. This along with the increased park visitation of the past several years is increasing concerns that the existing trail systems provided in Tilden and Wildcat are not adequately accommodating the demand being placed on them.
Currently, mountain bike teams are accumulating about 40,000 riding hours in a season on the same 30 miles of multi-use trails shared by everyone but are only permitted to ride on approximately 1.5 miles of single-track trails in these parks. This is leading to frustration among all trail users and is resulting in the increased use of trails that do not allow mountain bikes as well as the increased use and creation of illegal bootleg trails within these parks.
As a response, staff from the Park District’s Trails Program and Stewardship Department conducted site assessments to identify a trail corridor for bikes that could alleviate the pressure on the current trail system while avoiding or minimizing impacts to sensitive plant and animal communities.
The proposed trail corridor runs through open grassland along a southwest facing ridgeline with views of the San Francisco Bay. It is centrally located within Wildcat Canyon Regional Park, with access from the Alvarado Staging Area via the Wildcat Creek Trail or by way of the Nimitz Trail from the Inspiration Point Staging Area.
The Park District hired Nomad Ecology to conduct a jurisdictional wetland delineation, a special-status plant survey, vegetation mapping, and biological resources report to identify avoidance and mitigation measures. The studies completed to date, have concluded there are no Sensitive Natural Communities or rare plants observed in the study area and no jurisdictional wetlands.
The study notes there is potential for some wildlife species to be present during trail construction, e.g., bumble bees, California red-legged frog, Alameda whipsnake, nesting birds, etc. but that preconstruction surveys and biomonitoring measures during construction can alleviate any potential impacts to these species. The Park District is now poised to commence public engagement and further analyze this project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Project costs have not been finalized. Biological Resource Assessment