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Air Pirate
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Due to a discussion in another thread regarding the use of a "No Bikes" designated trail at Lake Natoma I decided to investigate further the legality of the trails in the Folsom Lake SRA (includes Lake Natoma).

I wanted to eliminate all the hearsay and get to the facts.

I found the latest approved General Plan for Folsom Lake SRA on the State Parks website. The plan calls for the establishment of a Trail Master Plan (see Volume 1-Chapter 3-Guideline Visit-34), which is what I figured would be the document that designates trail use and limitations.

I sent a query to the general plan project manager, Jim Micheaels.

He replied with a very informative email. He directed me to the already posted trail maps (updated November 2014) and some web pages that will soon contain information on the status of the Folsom Lake SRA Road and Trail Management Plan.

The trail designations are on the updated trail maps as well as in a Superintendent's Order for Folsom Lake SRA, which is the latest Trail Use Policy. He included a copy of this Order with his email.

The maps are better than the ones I have seen in the past, certainly better than the trail map that is included in the park brochure. It shows enough detail to be able to tell which trails are which, and what their designation is. Something that did surprise me was the inclusion of non-designated trails...usually referred to on MTBR as "social" trails. Mr. Micheaels advised these trails are not considered "system trails" and are not maintained by State Parks or currently have any use designation.

Now, the following paragraph is my opinion, not Mr. Micheaels' or State Parks position:

<Opinion> I would consider these trails a "use at your own risk" designation...even though there is no designation I believe a park ranger could cite you for using it if he considers the use to be in violation of other access laws or the use could be determined to be detrimental to the area. The State Park is divided up in areas by Land Use Designation such as " High Intensity Recreation" and "Conservation". Many of the social trails run through designated Conservation area. All a rangers has to do is cite on one of the codes that deals with danger to or destruction of conservation area (per the California Code of Regulations and other State laws.) So let the rider beware, these trails are used at your own risk. </Opinion>

One post in the other thread I mentioned suggested challenging State Parks on access of trails (social or designated) by way of the prescriptive easement law, where continued use of trails or roads across a property by persons for a certain length of time without any legal challenge establishes a public access easement. This only works with privately owned property, not public lands such as State Parks. They can close down and eliminate any and all social trails at their discretion, with no public input or notice required (and when done cite you for going "off trail" if found riding on a closed social trail.)

Looking at the Superintendent's Order - Trail Use Policy I noted the base policy for trail access for Folsom Lake SRA is "Unless designated by the Department, all trails are open to pedestrians and closed to all other uses."

The Superintendent may designate trails for use by bicycles and/or equestrians.

I also noted this statement: "All designated routes must be posted open by the use of a California State Parks approved and produced sign with a bicycle or equestrian symbol."

So what I interpret this to mean is: unless the trail is posted otherwise it must be considered "No Bikes". They do not have to post the trail is restricted to bikes, just post if bikes are allowed.

As a side note, section #3 of the Order states: "Non-motorized, operator propelled devices including, but not limited to, skateboard, tricycles, unicycles, roller blades may only be used on trails open to bicycle use." I interpret this to mean E-bikes are not allowed, as they are motorized. I guess this can be considered Folsom Lake SRA's E-bike Policy.

Hopefully this clears up the hearsay and helps establish an understanding of the actual allowed access of Folsom Lake SRA.

Trail Maps:

Lake Natoma

North Fork American River

South Fork American River

Folsom Lake Main Body

Other Info:


Roads and Trails Management Plans in Progress (soon to be updated with a link to the draft plan).

Change-in-Use process page.

Superintendent's Order - Trail Use Policy

Posted below is the copy of the Order I was emailed. The maps are included as posted as well as the Declaration of Posting required by State law (use the maps found at the links posted above, they are clearer and provide a bit better detail.)

This Order lists the specific trail use designation of the system trails within Folsom Lake SRA.
 

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mtb'er
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AFAIK, the whole process stalled out during the Stakeholder Focus Groups at the end of May 2014. They did the MTB focus group and the equestrian focus group, but no others that I've heard about. The RTMP was supposed to be completed in June of this year. Nothing but crickets from FLSRA. Glad to hear Micheael's is responsive to you. It wouldn't hurt if more people asked for updates every once in a while.

The convoluted "process" for determining if a bicycle can safely be operated on northside Lake Natoma, on Pioneer XP and on Browns/South Side Trail: http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/1324/files/Change In Use.pdf

...when all they need to do is look at Strava data as a sample and compare that to the incident, injury, accident and trauma calls the district office and the local fire departments get.

The RTMP timeline they gave us last May:
Text White Style Line Black-and-white


I have to believe that there will be more access provided to MTB once the RTMP is complete, whenever that may be. However, I believe the trails themselves will need to be brought "up to CA State Park standards", so that could take another decade or two before bicycling on these trails will officially be allowed. So don't hold your breath. And if you find yourself on a trail not designated for bikes, ride at your own risk and be the nicest cyclist in the world via your actions (slow down, yield) and words (Howdy!).

As a community, we do need to team up with the equestrians, runners and hikers and generate the support and funding to build a new trail between Peninsula CG and Cool, so that there will be a multi-use trail around the entire lake. http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/21299/files/Trails_FolsomLake_Alt2.pdf
 

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Air Pirate
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the info Empty.

I was wondering about the possibility of public input for changing trail designations so I sent this to Mr. Micheaels for clarification on the Change-of-use process:

Thank you Jim, this is very informative. I have not looked at the Change-in-use policy but am curious if there is a process to include the public in informing State Parks on needed use designation changes?
He replied with this:

You should review some of the Change in Use (CIU) information. The Department did a Programmatic EIR (which is part of the on-line information) to review and analyze the CIU process. CIU's can be implemented for individual trail segments or if multiple trails - as part of a Road and Trail Management Plan (RTMP) - which is what we are doing at FLSRA. CIUs can be initiated by a request from the public or user groups or State Parks management can initiate a CIU evaluation due to some trail management issue or concern.

As part of the RTMP we have held a number of focus group meetings with different trail user groups and other interests. We will also be hosting 1-2 public workshops regarding the Plan. Out of the focus group meetings we received a number of CIU requests. We are essentially doing the CIU evaluations for nearly all of the trails at FLSRA which are not currently designated multi-use. These evaluations and the recommendations that come out of the evaluations will be part of the RTMP.

The evaluations themselves - you can look at a copy of the evaluation form (somewhere in the PEIR info for which I gave you the link - are done by a State Parks interdisciplinary team.

Again - I hope to have a web page specific to the Folsom Lake SRA RTMP published shortly.

Thanks, jm.
 

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Got a link or copy of the CIU request? I'll hand them out to riders I meet on the trail and in the neighborhood. The north lake is my "I only have 45 min to ride before 'whatever kid practice' ride" at least twice a week. It's senseless that no bikes are allowed on this urban trail right next to the bike path.
 

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I've had a Pliny
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Said Jim Michaels: CIUs can be initiated by a request from the public or user groups or State Parks management can initiate a CIU evaluation due to some trail management issue or concern.

So we should all send CIU requests in for the FLSRA trails and specifically the north-side Lake Natoma trails.

Empy: I see your reference to the CIU Evaluation form. Is there a request form or is an email with "CIU" in the subject considered a CIU request?

BokChoi - big kudos for starting this thread.
 

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I agree. Why are bikes allowed on the south side of the lake with mostly businesses on their border, but the trails next to large neighborhoods with numerous access points are not?

It would be interesting what the ratio of bike riders to horses are along the northside. Assuming that the number of people on strava are the minority of riders, there are easily over a thousand riders that use these trails.
 

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How anyone can say that horsies and bikes can play nice on Sweetwater and not Browns to Falcon Crest, is beyond me.
Not to turn this into bikes vs. horses but at least half the horses I encounter on trails should not be out in public with other people because they are not trained/acclimated enough. I've had more than a couple horses rear up at me and the owner rages at me then when I say "what did I do wrong?" they just say "You scared my horse!"

Oh, by just existing? Maybe your untrained horse is the problem, not me, ever think of that?
 

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I've had a Pliny
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It would be interesting what the ratio of bike riders to horses are along the northside. Assuming that the number of people on strava are the minority of riders, there are easily over a thousand riders that use these trails.
One Strava segment shows just north to south on Shady since mid-2011: 3480 attempts by 580 people. I know it's obvious but that's JUST riders using Strava.
 

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I've had a Pliny
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Additional info:

State Parks presentation on "Designating and Changing Trail Uses in CSP". Explains the change process flow.
Even if the State Parks was moving at an acceptable pace, that looks like five year's worth of work. Bokchoi, have you noticed anywhere that states they need to respond in full to a CIU within a certain amount of time? Or could they drag a CIU out through a decade?
 

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Scofflaw Mountain Biker
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It would be interesting what the ratio of bike riders to horses are along the northside. Assuming that the number of people on strava are the minority of riders, there are easily over a thousand riders that use these trails.
I will count the horses on my next Shady Trail ride and let you know.
.
 

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One Strava segment shows just north to south on Shady since mid-2011: 3480 attempts by 580 people. I know it's obvious but that's JUST riders using Strava.
I wonder if there's some info out there of what percentage of riders use Strava. I'm sure it varies by region, discipline, and rider demographic but everyone I know who rides uses it except 1.
 

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I recall reading about a community that purchased Strava data that about 10% of cyclists use it. But yes, I'd think it varies slightly in regions and disciplines (road vs MTB).
I'm curious what it would be if we narrowed the demographic...

-Those residing in urban/suburban California (I imagine a higher % than something like rural Wyoming)

-Under age 60 (nothing against those 60+ but younger means more tech gadgets/apps)

-Those who trail ride for pleasure (higher % than those who commute out of necessity or ride the bike path a couple times a month for exercise)
 

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On a related note, I'm posting live from middle ridge trail, just came up a slight hill to the view of a horses ass about 40 yards away, bros am I going to be safe?? I stopped and let them gain some ground
 
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