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Trails at San Vicente Redwoods Hit One-Year Milestone
Wildlife, Properties, Environment, Trails
by Brian Homberger
on January 4, 2024

Happy Birthday SVR Trails! It's officially one year since the eight miles of multi-use trails at San Vicente Redwoods opened to the public! It's been an absolute joy welcoming people to the trails to enjoy this intense and beautiful landscape that is unlike any other. The SVR property is such a biologically rich space with many stories to tell.

I had the privilege of working on this project over the past four years, and it has been quite an eventful journey. We ran into delays because of the pandemic in March 2020 and the CZU Lightning Complex Fire in August 2020. Construction began and was completed in 2022. Then, we had a historic winter of over 90-inches of precipitation just after opening. After all of these "once in a lifetime events," I'm hoping for a very average and uneventful year two.

I'm fortunate to have seen this space regrow and recover from the catastrophic fires in 2020. As someone who was involved in the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire, it has been healing and cathartic to witness the day-by-day recovery of this once charred and burnt landscape and experience the profusion of life and abundance of regrowth. Thousands of acres of ash and moonscape have transformed into a sea of yellow bush poppies. We have seen the growth of the most adorable fox family happily hunting and exploring this changed landscape. We have also seen the remarkable regrowth of redwoods and coast live oaks with vibrant green growth as new branches emerge from their burnt black bark. It has been truly humbling to see life emerge from devastation. This trail system is one of the few places where the public can visit a burn scar and experience the regrowth so closely. It has been a silver lining to the fire.

Pre-opening, while we were working on flagging trail alignment and planning the project, it was often silent and quiet walking through the forest. But now, the silence is punctuated by the laughter of hikers, families, and young ones talking, and I get so many thoughtful questions from the trail users. It has been so good to get to know the regulars and welcome the newcomers. In the outdoor world, it's rare to open a trail system from scratch and start with a blank slate. We are lucky to have such an incredible community and thoughtful trail users. Visitors understand that this trail system is unlike any other and treat it with respect.

We appreciate everyone's understanding of the frequent partial and sometimes complete closures. This property has complexity because of the hands on, proactive management of the non-profit co-management that includes numerous restoration projects, sustainable timber harvests, and post-fire recovery. Since the trail meanders through fire impacted trees, we have a low tolerance for risk during wind events and must close for safety purposes. Also, as part of the fire recovery, we have carried out three major shaded fuel break projects: Empire, Dead Man, and Warenella. These fuel reduction efforts require cutting down dead trees, moving huge logs, prescribed fire, and burn piles, all within the trail corridor. We thank everyone for respecting and understanding the many moving parts that make this property so unique.