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@ Mission Peak, Cattle + Rain = Unrideable Trails, But We Can Stop It

2956 Views 43 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  cmdrpiffle
The cattle are starting to do a lot of damage on the Bay Area Ridge Trail between Mission Peak and Monument Peak. I counted 37 head of cattle between those two points. Two cows were wandering up the singletrack to the top of Mission Peak! Others were near the Mt. Allison summit. Still others have recently been congregating on the lower levels of Peak Trail.

In addition to the damage they're inflicting on the Bay Area Ridge Trail up near the peak itself, they're starting to damage Peak Trail between Ohlone College and the gravel road, particularly near the cattle gates.

When it rains for several days starting today, the potential will be there for the cattle to really muck up the trails to the point that they'll be unrideable and difficult to hike.

So here's my request. Someone recently reminded me that the EBRPD cattle leases generally permit grazing only for a few months a year, and December is not supposed to be one of them. We ought to be able to get the cattle out of there if that is true of the Mission Peak lease.

So would you mind contacting park staff at 510-544-3246 and/or at [email protected] to ask them to urgently deal with the cattle? Please cc: [email protected] and [email protected].

Please mention:

1. The cattle are starting to damage the aforementioned trails. Soon they will be too chewed up for hikers and cyclists. (Or just mention hikers if you prefer to be politically correct.)

2. You understand that the lease agreement may not allow them year-round.

3. What months does the lease agreement for Mission Peak allow cattle?

4. If they're not allowed there in December, please order them removed immediately, before it rains steadily in the next few days.

5. Even if they are allowed, please get them out of there to the extent possible before they ruin visitors' experience for the next few weeks or months.

Please let this thread know if you hear back.

I would suggest calling over e-mailing. It's harder to ignore a phone call, especially if you ask for a return call. And you might just get a live park employee.

Let's see if we can save Mission Peak for winter riding.

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I too was out there yesterday and observed the same problems. I took some photos of the trail south of the peak that was too mucked up to even walk. I recall at a measure AA meeting that Ayn Wieskamp said the cows would be out of the parks in "just a few more weeks" and this was back in what? September?
As enjoyable as my ride was the cow situation kept nagging at me. Bikers catch so much flak for trail damage yet aside from the cow damage the trails were in really good shape with barely any tire tracks. Nonetheless, you can expect that we'll take the brunt of the blame for problems as the winter weather progresses.
I'll be writing to them today. I prefer to write and ask for a written reply so there is a record of the dialogue. If they choose to ignore my request for information I can refer to my prior correspondence(s).
Excellent, Twindaddy. Thanks!
Interesting topic

Eat mor Steak!......Load up on guns........

For all of the talk about various causes of trail damage/erosion- bikes, horses, hikers, etc....the only place I've really ever seen serious damage is on Mission Peak's various trails. Sometimes so bad that parts aren't rideable.

There's nothing like cresting a hill and having to pass a 1000lb cow standing in the middle of the fire road. Kinda makes me a bit nervous.

Fremont Ca. Dec. 2008-
Today, 'Elsie' decided she'd had enough of those pesky bicycles. Witnesses report several hundred huge, crazed bovines went on a rampage in a popular trail system in the hills above east Fremont. "The carnage was incredible" reported an unnamed survivor of the morning's festivities.

Anyway, appreciate the contact information. I will be writing them. I'll advise if I hear anything back on it.

BTW.....anyone remember in the mid 90's when there were a couple of herds of wild horses up there? The ground would shake when they would come running into an area. That was pretty cool.

.....nothing else constructive to add.

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Thanks, cmdrpiffle, for doing something! FYI, a number of the EBRPD ranchland "parks" have this problem. Garin is largely unrideable all winter if it's rainy because of the cattle. Tilden, Briones, Pleasanton Ridge, Sunol, Ohlone, etc. are heavily affected by cattle. I'm thinking that if enough people will call EBRPD on the reported restrictions in the leases, i.e., that cattle aren't supposed to be around in the rainy season, that maybe things will get a little better.
I just called the number and a live human being answered! Surprising for a Sunday. He agreed that cattle and mud don't mix on the hiking trails and said he would ask someone else to read the grazing agreements and see what they say. Let's hope.
Not in East Bay, but maybe this is useful?

I've heard about some research being done on changing grazing practices to both reduce fuel loads and restore native grasses, which are more drought resistant. Instead of letting the cows wander around large areas, they are confined to smaller parcels, but left there for shorter amounts of time. The goal is to mimic how the land would be grazed if there were wild animals such as elk grazing.

The relevance here is that cattle are kept in the desired areas by temporary sections of electric fence, then moved as management goals for the parcel are met. It does take a little more labor for the rancher to set up the fences and move the cattle, but you end up with healthier grasslands.

If the grazing leases say the cattle should not be there, then by all means, get them out. But even at times and places where grazing is allowed, the above methods could/should be used to exclude them from roads and trails.
Harry, thanks, but I've been told the reason for EBRPD's scorched-earth cattle policy is that the agency uses the cattle for cheap fire control and to placate ranchers so that the ranchers' friends will be willing to sell more land to EBRPD in exchange for cheap long-term grazing rights. The agency, according to this scenario, cares more about acquiring land than making the land it acquires nice for the taxpayers who pay for it, because EBRPD is always after more land and needs to keep the ranchers who own that land content. To repeat, I'm told as much but don't know it for a fact; all I know for a fact is that EBRPD won't budge on the cattle issue and people with a lot of influence have tried and failed. Whatever the cause for EBRPD's policy, the result is unfortunate.
last year I was talking with a park ranger and the cattle issue came up. He said one of the benefits was that the hooved animals are needed for native weeds/grasses because the deer population is not what it once was.

I would guess if EBRPD takes action it will be
mtn bike wet weather closure's similar to the Forest services closures for /ohv's.
I do NOT want to see anymore fences so I can live with the
hoove print mud holes
Response for above 2 posts


You are closer to it and way more involved than I. I just wanted to pass on some info that I hope might be helpful somewhere down the line. My understanding is the grazing does have considerable fire control benefit, and I don't think that can or should be overlooked. It's more a matter of how the grazing is managed. The few articles I've seen on the topic suggest that grazing can be managed in a way that also produces other benefits in terms of habitat / grassland improvements instead of degredation. I seem to recall even MROSD was beginning to experiment with it a little. I'll see if I can dig up some links.


I think the ranger you spoke with was partially correct, although I don't think deer are big grass eaters in any case. As to the fences, maybe it wouldn't make a difference to you, but from what I've heard, they are temporary, used to pen the cows in an area a short time, then move them and the fence to another area.
3034 said:
because the deer population is not what it once was.
All the more reason to whup ass on the Kittys........."load up on guns"......


Commander Piffle
As mentioned above, Garin is another place I used to ride quite often, but gave up on because of the cattle damage.
As also mentioned, I prefer writing a letter as opposed to calling so letter to be sent today.....
Excellent, rzims. Thanks very much for doing that.

Harry, the cattle debate is long-lasting and complicated and I'm familiarizing myself with the arguments on both sides. The idea here, though, is simply to get the cattle out of Mission Peak (Garin too!) in coming days before they ruin the trails.
imtnbke said:
Excellent, rzims. Thanks very much for doing that.

Harry, the cattle debate is long-lasting and complicated and I'm familiarizing myself with the arguments on both sides. The idea here, though, is simply to get the cattle out of Mission Peak (Garin too!) in coming days before they ruin the trails.
Absolutely! Good luck with that.

I recognize the info I posted is more long term. Hope its helpful down the road.

I've emailed Ayn as she's the person in charge of the Mission Peak Ward as well as Shelly Lewis as she's listed on the site as the public information supervisor.
ok, wow - I just got a response from Shelly to my email.....

<<< from Shelly>>> Rich &#8230; I'm on it! I know some of the parks have cattle year round but not sure about Mission Peak. I'll send this to the supervisor and find out for you! - Shelly

From: Rich
Sent: Monday, December 22, 2008 10:47 AM
To: Shelly Lewis
Subject: Mission Peak cattle damage

Dear Ms. Lewis,
As a hiker and a moutain biker, I often spend time in my local parks, Lake Chabot, Garin Park, Coyote Hills and Mission Peak specifically.

For years I've been under the assumption that the cattle and their subsequent damage were just something I would be forced to deal with when I was at either Garin or Mission Peak.

As a result, I've spent less time at those two parks and more time at Chabot even though it is further from my home in South Hayward.

Recently, I was told that the cattle leases were seasonal and that the cattle should not be in the parks year round. Is this correct? If so, what months are the cattle supposed to be allowed in those two parks?

The reason I ask this is that with the recent rains, the trails at Mission Peak are beginning to suffer and will soon be rendered unusable by both cyclists and hikers.

If you could look into this and let me know whether there is a way to move the cattle, esp during the winter months, I would really appreciate it.

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Not to be a jerk, but it sounds like you guys have lost some perspective(either that or I don't know the whole story). We're mountain bikers, aren't the trails supposed to be rough?

If you want smooth roads with no bumps, why not ride road instead?
I agree that the trails are trails and not roads, but if you've ever ridden Garin you'd understand just how bad these trails are. It's beyond rough, they are trashed to the point that even on my full sus bike they suck let alone on my rigid ss.
Let's not forget that when the trails get very wet the cattle churn it into slurry. Not only can you not ride through it but when you try your bike gets sucked to a stop then putting down your foot also becomes a sticky situation.

The post holes are usually then remedied by driving a grader over the entirety some time in the summer creating clods and moon dust that is in a different way unridable.
Cattle + wet weather = get ready to eat a lot of sh.. if you don't have good fenders.
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