Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - June 3, 2011

Guest Opinion: A clear view of the new trail

Stanford offers its perspective on the new Matadero Creek Trail

by Larry Horton

The clear view from Santa Clara County's new Matadero Creek Trail stands in sharp contrast to the fuzzy and critical depiction of the trail and its location presented in the May 20 Weekly editorial.

The new hiking trail section runs from Page Mill Road and Foothill Expressway over to the pedestrian and bike path along Arastradero Road, and offers expansive views of San Francisco Bay, local foothills, and the Santa Cruz Mountains. One of the first hikers, Monty Gibson, a visiting tennis coach from Texas A&M, described the trail as "absolutely gorgeous."

The location of the trail route is defined by Santa Clara County in the 1995 Countywide Trails Master Plan Update. The plan describes several sub-regional trails, including the "S1 Matadero Creek/Page Mill Trail passing through Palo Alto, Los Altos Hills from the Bay Trail to the Bay Area Ridge Trail." The approximate 1.5-mile section recently opened is part of this larger S1 Trail. Stanford's 2000 General Use Permit and a subsequent, 2006 Santa Clara County/ Stanford Agreement for Trails Easements and Construction, defined the parameters for completing this section on Stanford lands.

Trail routes often pass through more than one city and involve multiple landowners and permitting jurisdictions. The countywide trails master plan identifies the challenges this poses: "Developing the trails network is like putting together a jig-saw puzzle ... it must be accomplished one piece at a time as the opportunities arise."

The editorial raises a question about another trail section that would connect to the Arastradero Preserve and the "jig-saw puzzle" issue applies here as well. The Matadero Creek Trail connects directly to the C2 Adobe Creek Trail, which runs along Arastradero Road and eventually to the Arastradero Preserve. An uncompleted section of the C2 trail, which is in the Town of Los Altos Hills, could be built now to connect to the Arastradero Preserve. Stanford has offered more than $1 million to the Town of Los Altos Hills to improve this one-mile connecting section. This would allow a hiker to use the new Matadero Creek trail, connecting to the Adobe Creek trail, to arrive at the Arastradero Preserve. The town is conducting further environmental review and gathering additional community input and is expected to make its decision in the upcoming months. Stanford is working with Los Altos Hills to support the town's decision on this pathway.

Disappointingly, the Weekly ignores the county's explicit designation of the Matadero Creek Trail route as the trail segment Stanford was required to construct. Other routes were examined, but the trail that just opened is the one the county voted to approve after five years of consideration.

Stanford is very pleased that the Matadero Creek Trail section on its land is open to the public and we believe the trail will become popular with the community.

Larry Horton is Stanford senior associate vice president for public affairs.

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