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By all accounts, California’s China Camp State Park is a great place for beginners to grasp the basics of mountain biking, without sacrificing any of the experience. The Shoreline Trail’s wide, smooth singletrack gently rises into the famed Marin hills, and provides sweeping views of the San Pablo Bay below.
The trail is one of the few legal stretches of singletrack in Northern California’s Marin County and its historic setting and stunning scenery earned it recognition as one of the best places for beginners to try out the sport in the June 2012 issue of Bicycling Magazine. That story, which I wrote, came with a disclaimer: Due to state budget cuts China Camp is scheduled to close in July.
Parks Under the Ax
Last summer, the California State Park department declared a plan to shutter 70 of its 279 parks. The department, facing a $33 million budget gap over the next two years, deemed the park closures an unfortunate consequence of a state economy in crisis.
In Marin County, four of six parks were slated to close, and in the adjacent Diablo Vista park district, nine of 12 parks were put on notice. Perhaps most troubling to mountain bikers, the Diablo Vista district’s 5,000-acre Annadel State Park and its 45 miles of cherished singletrack also appeared on the state’s closure list.
“The last year has been a bit of an adventure,” says Danita Rodriguez, who oversees both the Marin and Diablo Vista park districts. “We’re trained and experienced at managing open parks, not closing them.”
Fire danger and illegal activities in the closed parks are obvious potential issues. “At first, the State told us they would save enough money closing the parks to pay people to patrol them,” says Greg Fisher, the editor of regional cycling publication Bike Monkey, who is leading the two-wheeled charge to keep Annadel open. “Then, they considered allowing people to use the park’s trails, without continuing to manage them.”