Here in California, there are a number of large, undeveloped tracts of land held for the public trust by foundations, non-profit groups and other organizations. One such group is the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District which supervises roughly 15 preserves in some especially beautiful country to the south of San Francisco overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It is a trailrunners dream.
I found trail systems that weave in and out of the Santa Cruz mountains, through dense redwood forests, across open meadows and to lofty peaks high above the Bay Area. I also discovered that along some of these trails is evidence of the logging industry that flourished here during the late 1800's to help build the city of San Francisco. It makes for an interesting twist to my runs when I can guide a person along through some fascinating Bay Area history.
I started by running the trails myself, taking photographs along the way, writing descriptions of each of the trails, and grading each circuit for difficulty with the "five paws" grading system. Arming myself with a Garmin GPS, I was able to create a distance and elevation profile and topographic map of the run. Below are the BayTrailrunners originals!
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