Now here’s how you celebrate the completion of a bike path. On November 6, the Bureau of Land Management and a bunch of other entities will host an “Iconic Bike Ride” from Shasta Dam to the Sundial Bridge on the newly paved Sacramento River Rail Trail. Tour organizers from BLM and other agencies will lead groups and provide education and interpretation of the sights along the way of the approximately 18-mile bike ride.
The BLM and RABA will shuttle people and their bikes from the Turtle Bay parking lot to Shasta Dam beginning at 9 a.m. on November 6. A brief ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled at the trailhead below the dam at about 10 a.m. Then it’ll be time to ride!
“It will be like a little grand opening,” said Bill Kuntz, supervising outdoor recreation planner in the BLM’s Redding office. Tour guides will talk about the dam, the long-gone town of Coram, the old railroad, some hand-built rock walls and bridges that are still in place and, essentially, about how the area has changed over the years, Kuntz said.
It’s been possible to ride this route since BLM connected the Sacramento River Bike Path at Keswick Dam to the rail trail near Iron Mountain Road about three years ago. However, the upper 11-mile trail stretch was a gravel road. Armed with federal economic stimulus money, the BLM paved the lower section over the summer. Crews are finishing the upper four miles nearest the dam this week. In addition, work is wrapping up on paving the Middle Creek Trail from the Sacramento River bike path near the 2-mile marker to Old Shasta.
Like a lot of people, I’m of mixed opinion about paving the rail trail between Keswick and Shasta dams. The gravel road seemed perfectly adequate and provided a sweet surface for running or walking. At the same time, I think the pavement will greatly increase trail usage, especially on the relatively flat seven-mile section between the Keswick boat launch and the campground just below the dam. Plus, the BLM insisted on construction of a continuous gravel shoulder to keep happy those of us wanting a softer surface.
“It’s a great boon for road bike riders. It’s a great trail,” said Earl Talken, past president of the Shasta Wheelman bicycle club. “There are a lot of people that don’t like to get out on the road and compete with cars. This [pavement extension] lets people get in a good long ride off the road.”
I have no qualms about paving the Middle Creek Trail, which, in its previous condition was “a great place to leave behind bicycle parts,” as Kuntz said. The trail follows an old railroad grade for about two miles from the Sacramento River trail to Iron Mountain Road, and then follows an old carriage road about two miles further to the edge of Old Shasta. The lower section has received some usage since the BLM pushed through a connection to the Upper Salt Creek Trail last year. But very few people even know about the existence of the upper section nearest Old Shasta. I have no doubt the fresh asphalt will entice a whole new population of bike riders, walkers and runners to the trail.
“We meet a lot of Old Shasta residents while we work out there who say, ‘Now I will be able to bike to town without having to ride on (Highway) 299,” Kuntz said.
Reservations are required for the Iconic Bike Ride. Call the BLM at 224-2100 to get your spot. If you don’t get in on a group ride, you may still ride (or walk or run) the bike path on your own beginning November 6.
I’ll stick with the trail theme …
• The Dana to downtown extension of the bike path is officially open once again. Caltrans closed the 1.1-mile bike path over the Sacramento shortly after the ribbon cutting to permit crews to finish the project. The path opened again last Friday and provides an excellent vantage point for watching migrating salmon.
• The Rattlesnake Lane access to the Westside trail system is officially closed. The Rattlesnake access trail crosses private property and there is no easement. Thus, the property owner was within his rights to shut down the trail, according to city of Redding officials, who are asking mountain bikers to respect the closure. This is a loss to riders who reach the Westside trails from Placer Road. Although there is something of an alternative off nearby Purple Elm Drive, the best idea may be to wait about a year, by which time I think you’ll see some real improvements in Westside trails connectivity. In the meantime, you may still get to the hilly Westside trails from several spots in the Mary Lake neighborhood, and from Valparaiso Way, off Lower Springs Road.
• Congratulations to everyone who endured difficult conditions at the Whiskeytown Trail Races last Saturday. Despite nonstop rain, gusty wind, a temperature that didn’t top 50 degrees and degrading trail conditions, 123 people completed runs of 50 kilometers (31 miles), 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) or 8.3 miles. Another 78 grade-school and junior-high-school runners competed in the 1.35-mile race. Extra props to Roger Jensen (the yo-yo man), Paul DeRijke of Mt. Shasta and Redding’s Jodi Hoffman, who completed her first race of any distance. These three didn’t win. In fact, they were the last ones to cross the line in the 50K, 30K and 8.3-miler, respectively. But when the conditions are bad, it takes more determination to finish at the tail end than at the front. JoAnn Hall, of Redding, also showed her grit by setting a new course record (1 hour, 41 minutes) for the women’s 60-69 age group in the 8.3-miler, despite seriously bloodying her knee and elbow in a fall.
• Entry forms for the Turkey Trot, Redding’s Thanksgiving morning running and walking event on the Sacramento River bike path, are in circulation, including right here.
Paul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and knows that it isn’t all downhill from Shasta Dam to Sundial Bridge. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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