Safe on the trails
Mountain biker Yung Kim says Coastside trails have seen a bit more action since the shelter-in-place order. August Howell / Review

Leaning on the frame of his green and black Scott mountain bike, Yung Kim looked up from the parking lot at the mountain he’d just descended.

“I really enjoy it,” he said of the activity he takes part in at least twice per week. “It’s beautiful out here.”

Mountain bikers careening down the trails are a common sight in the last few weeks on Montara Mountain. With so much closed and activities limited due to efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus, taking to the trails via bike or by foot seems to be a more common practice these days.

Kim, age 70, said he sometimes rides for two to four hours a day on the trails. On rare occasions, he’ll even put in five hours. After recent rainfall, Kim enjoys getting in hours on the compact dirt.

“It’s really good for strength,” Kim said. “It keeps your body in shape.”

Kim said after the state’s shelter-in-place order there was a slight uptick in the sight of mountain bikes on the mountain. But he believes it remains consistently spread out. Kim is a regular on the mountain. He’s been going often enough that he recognizes certain people. Last week he recognized some familiar faces — people in their late 60s, he said — attacking the summit route.

While the parks themselves are open for responsible use, the parking is closed at state parks across California.

The meandering trails on the mountain are part of McNee Ranch State Park. Both mountain bikers and hikers can choose from the Montara Mountain trail, the Gray Whale Cove trail, and the Old Pedro Mountain Road trail, which connects to Pacifica. Part of the appeal of the dirt and cracked-asphalt roads is the variety and size. Wide trails offer lots of space for riders, and the terrain varies between sections. Toward the summit, bikers deal with steep slopes on loose dirt. Farther down, the winding concrete path lets them build speed.

For those who can handle the technical terrain, the North Peak Access Road provides the toughest challenge. From the Martini Creek entrance on the side of Highway 1, the trail takes riders nearly 4 miles and over 1,800 feet of elevation gain to the summit of the mountain.

J.R. Wesley, of San Mateo, comes to bike the trails roughly once a month, either comfortably riding with friends or going solo.

“It’s open and fairly unrestricted,” he said. “There’s a problem in general of mountain biking getting shut down in places, so it’s nice to have a place that’s still open.”

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