In 2022, the WoodNext Foundation connected with the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council, looking for ways to help close the remaining gaps in the South Bay region. The funding arrived at a pivotal moment to support a route study, and substantially accelerated our identification of a new trail alignment in one of the most remote and underdeveloped areas of the Ridge Trail. Through the study, we analyzed 46 trail segments between Gilroy and Mt. Umunhum, and successfully identified a more viable route, which will open more miles of Ridge Trail in less time than the prior alignment.
Studying the Route
During the months that followed, Ridge Trail staff
- Met with regional partners, including Santa Clara County Parks, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, and the City of Gilroy to discuss route options, concerns, and feasibility
- Spoke with local trail advocates and experts to better understand the route possibilities
- Conducted site visits to explore different route options and conditions on the ground
- Reviewed almost 50 alternative route sections to determine a viable path for the planned Ridge Trail route to take
- As a result of the route study, the Ridge Trail’s Board of Directors formally approved a new trail alignment from Mt. Madonna to Almaden Quicksilver County Park.
- The new route will cover 31 miles and shift the RT eastward onto a ridgeline overlooking Coyote Valley and Morgan Hill. Moving the route east takes advantage of existing public parklands, ranchlands, and reservoirs.
- The new alignment will result in more immediate trail openings (10+ miles in the next 1-2 years), with more miles to follow in the 5-10 year timeframe.
The routing study and realignment, along with enthusiastic responses from our key partners in the region, has put the Ridge Trail in an excellent position to move forward with our next phases of work, including:
- Formation of a joint working group with regional partners to collaborate on completion of this section, as well as additional trail openings in the region.
- Dedicate 10 miles of new Ridge Trail as part of the new route alignment, expected in the next year.
- Secure funding for land acquisitions and new trail construction.
Explore the planned route from a bird's eye view!