North Ridge Trail Improvements!
You may notice something new at the top of the North Ridge Trail! The old trail was realigned to improve user experience, tread, and drainage. Read more about the project below.
The majority of our trail maintenance focuses on keeping vegetation out of trail corridors and maintaining drainage features along the trail. But occasionally, a section of trail with an underlying design issue evolves into a more significant problem spot. This is was the case for the top of the North Ridge Trail as it entered Rotary Meadow.
Steep Segment of North Ridge Trail for proposed realignment
The tread became rutted and rocky and winter rains acted to accentuate the erosion that was occurring. Given the steepness of this section (>20% grade), we were confident that typical tactics of constructing water bars or other drainage features wouldn’t be a sustainable solution. In this case a more substantial change is needed – a realignment was in order.
With steep sections of trail, often we can find an alternative route that extends the length of trail, which has multiple benefits. For a given amount of elevation change, it increases the length of trail and consequently reduces the grade, making for a more manageable trail. In addition, a realigned trail segment allows new contours and drainage features to be introduced, so that water can be dispersed instead of channeled.
This approach is not without challenges. Oftentimes we must balance improvements to our trails with the health of well-established habitat, which was certainly the case for this segment of trail. The Rotary Meadow was first planted 15 years ago and represents the most established habitat cultivated in the Mount Sutro Open Space and is an important resource to maintain. So we were tasked with planning a realignment that minimally impacted the nearby habitat resources, while achieving our goals for the trail route.