Closed trail in Quarry Park

A trail closed sign posted by the Parks Department in Quarry Park. Adam Pardee / Review

The San Mateo County Parks Department and Coastside Mountain Bikers are working together to standardize mountain biking trails in Quarry Park despite philosophies about trail use that are sometimes at odds.

Parks Director Nicholas Calderon said the new standards for mountain biking trails in the park, which are likely to be based on existing international, national or state policies, would provide a framework for evaluating existing and new trails for safety and environmental impacts. Those standards would then inform the county’s decision to modify or even decommission any trails that don’t size up, Calderon said.

The effort comes in response to new, unauthorized trails that have appeared in the park over the past few months. Those ad hoc trails led County Parks to post notices informing users that the trails weren’t up to par with county standards and asking users to stop building new ones, Calderon said.

“We really needed the broader community to understand that those are not our trails, we aren’t authorizing those trails, and we can't guarantee they are safe,” Calderon said.

Ric Barker, executive director for Coastside Mountain Bikers, said the group is working with County Parks and encouraging adoption of international mountain biking standards. The group wants trail ratings and signage and to take an active role in maintaining Quarry Park for recreational bikers. Barker said he doesn’t support decommissioning any trails, and would rather find middle ground in retaining and modifying current trails, most of which he said predate County Parks’ ownership of the land. His hope is that this process will help the parks department evolve its view of mountain biking.

“The sport of mountain biking has evolved,” Barker said. “... The mindset, it needs to come and evolve as well. We’re working with them on that, to find some middle ground in retaining all of these trails.”

Barker said Coastside Mountain Bikers have offered to help build and fund any new signage and modifications to the trails. With generations of mountain bikers who live on the Coastside, the group helped design and fund the incoming pump track and teaches trail ethics and good behavior to its members.

Some of the factors that go into rating and authorizing a trail, Calderon said, include its width, the line of sight, elevation change, any features like jumps and how it transitions into another trail.

“One thing we’re concerned about is when a single track trail intersects another trail or a fire road,” Calderon said. “We never want that to happen. That's a very unsafe condition.”

Barker said he is most concerned with getting users off of wide fire roads, which are dangerous to ride downhill while hikers and other users are moving uphill. While the group’s reach is limited, it is encouraging users to comply with the county’s request to not create new trails in the park and respect the authority of park rangers. Calderon said that as soon as the notices were posted, fewer people have been riding unauthorized trails.

Calderon said he hopes the adoption of the trail standards is the start, and not the end of the conversation. While Quarry Park is the only county park that’s going through this process, Calderon said the process could inform decisions elsewhere in the county. And as Quarry Park changes, Calderon said he hopes to monitor and revise the standards and trails to best meet community needs and safety.

“It's a living process,” Calderon said. 

Staff Photojournalist

Adam Pardee is the staff photographer for the Review, the Tribune and Coastside magazine. He photographs everything from breaking news to feature stories.

(4) comments


I think it’s great that those trails will be made permanent. I hike, run and bike in Quarry Park all the time and see a real need to keep hikers and runners on the fire roads and bikers on separate single track trails. The trails up there were a god- send this past year for so many kids and families who had traditional sports cancelled. Thanks, Ric and Nick!

Cid Young

I do not Mountain Bike in Quarry Park, nor did l participate in building an “Ad Hoc” Pumptrack in the trees at Mirada Surf East or create an unauthorized Skateboard Park ( known as Spoti) in Moss Beach Heights, on the Military Ruins now slated for Mud-Pen’s 71 unit low income affordable housing complex. The problem, as l see it, is that back in 2002, when Rich Gordon was the Supervisor, SMC did a study for the MidCoast Recreational Needs and created a Parks Mitigation Fee to be collected from new residential construction or remodels for a community Center and a local parks for the unincorporated MidCoast area. Despite this fee having been collected all these years, the County has instead spent the money on County Parks, or Visitor Serving features like extending the Coastal Trail in West Miramar, or Appropriating the Mitigation Fund money for improvements and repairs to County-run Parks. There is no budget for a local park or a Community Center to this day, and every time a fun feature is illegally created they swiftly wipe it out. The question remains, why have they turned a blind eye to our Community needs and yet spend money creating more visitor Serving Parks like the Devil’s Slide Trail or the New Tunitas Creek Beach Park. Do they chase the latest shiney object and keep sweeping the needs of our community to the back burner? Do they feel that “pot of money”💰 is their “parks slush fund” to control as they see fit, while ignoring the initial purpose? Some in our Community keep creating their own recreational features for a reason - BECAUSE WE LACK what must communities have. A Parks and Recreation facility as envisioned in 2002 for which funds have been collected for that purpose ever since, but said funds were never applied toward that end result. Meanwhile, the County Parks Department continues to collect and allocate that Mitigation Fee money towards their choice of improvements!


Would be nice also if the Punk with the house up on top of the park didn’t freak out at users accessing the trails up above Quarry Park and beyond also…


Yep. So freaked out he is selling the house. $15million.

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