Bike paths on Fort Ord soon to be closed to the public.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Peter Sherrill and Sam Cordero burst down a short single-track trail on Fort Ord. Recent rain has packed the normally sandy soil. The smooth conditions combined with a fogless morning make it a sweet day to ride.
“These are great trails for beginners to cut their teeth on,” Cordero says.
Every week Sherrill, Cordero and other Monterey Off Road Cycling Association members ride this unmarked network of paths called Happy Trails. They are near CSU Monterey Bay, roughly between Watkin Gates and Inter Garrison roads. But the Fort Ord Reuse Authority soon will take control of the trail area and close it to the public.
Authority contractors will remove munitions on the property, part of 3,340 acres the authority will receive under the Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement. The Army will pay the Authority $100 million to finish cleanup.
Stan Cook, authority cooperative agreement manager, says state and federal regulators require barring trail access.
All of Bureau of Land Management’s 7,200 acres on Fort Ord will remain open to the public.
Keith DeFiebre has hosted mountain races in the Happy Trails area for more than 10 years.
“The trails are pretty tame,” DeFiebre says. “What we get is a lot of kids and beginning cyclists.”
On Jan. 6, DeFiebre’s organization, Central Coast Cyclo-Cross, hosted an event where about 125 participants raced through the dirt course and carried their bikes over obstacles. DeFiebre’s biggest event is in March when 300 riders from the NorCal High School Mountain Bike Racing League come to compete.
“The old little Army roads that have grown over are perfect because they are full of dirt and hard pack,” DeFiebre says. “It’s a bikers paradise.”
DeFiebre has worked with the authority, Monterey County and BLM to find an alternate route for his events. The trails are slated to close this spring or summer and will remain so until about 2012. The authority will post closed-trail signs and hope for voluntary compliance.