Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park Updated Family Bike Riding Proposal

At Pedal Forward Bikes & Adventure, two of our guiding principles are to support our community and inspire our customers to take more adventure. We are continually seeking ways to help. Right after we opened our shop in September of 2020, after talking to our customers, we realized that there are no safe and easy places for families and older folks to ride their bikes in Oakhurst. After some research, we determined that the Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park could be the perfect location.

We are continuing to work with the Friends of Ahwahnee Hills Park to develop a plan that will allow bikes in the park while supporting the goals of this beautiful park. We also want to grow financial support through donations to the park and preserve its beauty. We have spent many hours developing a plan and have presented it to the board several times. On October 5, 2021, we introduced the following revised plan based on feedback from the board. We sincerely appreciate all the board’s feedback to develop a plan that will support all the stakeholders, including hikers, horseback riders, and hopefully bikers.

Business Plan for bicycle usage in the Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park – September 2021

Jorge Negrete and Michael Broderick, owners of Pedal Forward Bikes & Adventure located in Oakhurst, California, developed this plan on behalf of local families. Jorge is a board member of Yosemite South Gate Trails Cooperative, a mountain bike enthusiast, and former Environmental Manager at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite. Michael is also a mountain bike enthusiast, tourism expert, and former Director of Sales & Marketing at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite.

Reference:

Families living in our mountain communities need access to safe, family-friendly bicycle trail riding, especially for beginners learning to ride on trails. Currently, there are no designated and conveniently located areas that are safe for families to ride bicycles. Due to the steep and challenging terrain of the mountain area, families cannot ride together in safe, “easy,” “green level” trails. Most of the existing bike trails access points are difficult to locate and entail long drives from Oakhurst/Ahwahnee area. 

Biking is an excellent outdoor activity that enables children to stay healthy, enjoy the outdoors, and develop a passion for an active lifestyle. Currently, there are non-profits in the area that use mountain biking to keep children involved in athletics providing alternatives to video games, social media, and other potentially negative activities. The addition of convenient, safe, and fun trails within the Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park will positively benefit the community and promote the park as a place where families can spend the day together, enjoying the outdoors. Families visiting the area will have another family-friendly recreational activity that will positively impact our local businesses that rely on tourism and potentially increase donations to Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park.

Details of the plan:

A. Use Area 

  1. The topography of the park’s walking trails is ideal for family-friendly riding. The walking trails are as wide as a fire road and provide enough space for bikers and walkers to pass each other safely.  For presentation purposes, we have divided the park into two main areas: the north part of the park and the south part. 
  2. The north part of the park includes the trails around the pond and trails that lead to the viewpoint. This area has a family-friendly trail loop, with only one optional section with a steep climb leading to the viewpoint trail. The loop connects with a trail around the pound that is also suitable for bikes. All of these trails currently have signs that stated “no horses.”
  3. The south part of the park is the area that leads from the interpretive center to the gate by Wasuma school. This area has a walking trail that runs parallel to the highway and currently needs some maintenance. The walking trails in this area only intersect equestrian trails to cross bridges and are wide enough to allow crossing between hikers and bikers.

B. Signage 

  1. The trails will have a sign in the trailheads with the trail’s name, the trail’s distance, and the type of activity. See example below:
  2. Signs for the equestrian trails will be in place and state, “Horses Only, No bikes or Hikers.”  
  3. Educational signs will be placed at the trailheads and around the park to ensure safe interactions between visitors, keep the park clean, and protect the wildlife. See example below:
  4. Signs before every bridge crossing will state, “Hikers & Bikers, Wait for Horses to Cross,” thus giving equestrians the right of way.
  5. The main sign with the park rules outside the interpretive center will need to be modified to include bicycle-approved trails. A new kiosk/map will also be placed next to this park rules sign. Additionally, in coordination with Ahwanee hills park, we recommend that educational signs identifying the plant species and wildlife be placed around the park to support the park’s mission to educate visitors.  
Signage examples
Signage Examples
Educational Signage Example

C.  Security & liability

  1. The first phase of this plan does not expand or modify the current trails; therefore, additional paid security is not included in this plan. However, Pedal Forward Bikes & Adventure will organize a group of local volunteers (Park Ambassadors) who will frequent the park regularly and inform the Friends of Ahwahnee Hills of any negative activity regarding trail modifications and trail usage. Additionally, Pedal Forward Bikes & Adventure will tour the park and report any issues to the board once a month. The community is eager to make this access work and help in any way needed to make riding access available. 
  2. If bicycle access is approved, the number of visitors and supporters of the park will increase along with donations. With these additional financial resources, the board can decide if additional staffing for the park, including security, is worth the investment. 
  3. Under Madera County, non of the board members are liable for accidents or incidents in the park. 

Also, under California Code:

“CA Government Code § 831.4 (2017): 

A public entity, public employee, or a grantor of a public easement to a public entity for any of the following purposes, is not liable for an injury caused by a condition of:

(a) Any unpaved road which provides access to fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, riding, including animal and all types of vehicular riding, water sports, recreational or scenic areas and which is not a (1) city street or highway or (2) county, state or federal highway or (3) public street or highway of a joint highway district, boulevard district, bridge, and highway district or similar district formed for the improvement or building of public streets or highways.

(b) Any trial used for the above purposes.

(c) Any paved trail, walkway, path, or sidewalk on an easement of way which has been granted to a public entity, which easement provides access to any unimproved property, so long as such public entity shall reasonably attempt to provide adequate warnings of the existence of any condition of the paved trail, walkway, path, or sidewalk which constitutes a hazard to health or safety. Warnings required by this subdivision shall only be required where pathways are paved, and such requirement shall not be construed to be a standard of care for any unpaved pathways or roads.

(Amended by Stats. 1979, Ch. 1010.)”

Also under California Code:

“CA Government Code § 831.4 (2017): 

A public entity, public employee, or a grantor of a public easement to a public entity for any of the following purposes, is not liable for an injury caused by a condition of:

(a) Any unpaved road which provides access to fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, riding, including animal and all types of vehicular riding, water sports, recreational or scenic areas and which is not a (1) city street or highway or (2) county, state or federal highway or (3) public street or highway of a joint highway district, boulevard district, bridge and highway district or similar district formed for the improvement or building of public streets or highways.

(b) Any trail used for the above purposes.

(c) Any paved trail, walkway, path, or sidewalk on an easement of way which has been granted to a public entity, which easement provides access to any unimproved property, so long as such public entity shall reasonably attempt to provide adequate warnings of the existence of any condition of the paved trail, walkway, path, or sidewalk which constitutes a hazard to health or safety. Warnings required by this subdivision shall only be required where pathways are paved, and such requirement shall not be construed to be a standard of care for any unpaved pathways or roads.

(Amended by Stats. 1979, Ch. 1010.)”

D. Maintenance of the trails

  1. Pedal forward bikes will organize a group of volunteers that will maintain and clean the trails. These volunteers will report any abnormal activity on the trails, such as modifications on the trails, visitors not following park rules, and the cleanliness of the park’s bike trails. 
  2. Pedal forward Bikes & Adventure will work with Ahwahnee Hills Park to support the financial goals of the park by promoting the park in the shop through social media and by helping to build donations/sponsorship of the park. 

E. Development of the plan:

Phase 1: Bicycle access to existing trails at Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park

Step 1:

Once the board members approve the access, signs will be ordered from locally-owned Fire Signs. Pedal Forward Bikes & Adventure submitted a grant through Visit Yosemite, Madera County, for $1,500. The grant was approved in October! Installation of the signs will be carefully coordinated with Ahwahnee Hills Park.

Step 2:

Pedal Forward Bikes will organize the volunteer group (Park Ambassadors) and perform the first trail clean-up. This group will be in charge of reporting abnormalities in the park as previously outlined.

Step 3:

Grand opening of bicycle access for the public and educating the users on the rules of the park

Step 4:

Hold a meeting with board members, employees, and users for feedback regarding the bike access to Ahwahnee Hills Park.

See map below:

Proposed Trail

Map Legend Below:

Yellow Lines: Hiking and biking trail

Green Line: Pound loop (in progress) access for bikers and hikers

Red Line: Hiker and biking trail connector (steeper than a yellow and green trail)

Dotted Red Line: Horses, hikers, and bikers used (wide trails)

Dotted Yellow Line: Trail that needs maintenance 

Black Half-moon Lines: Bridges

Phase 2: Expansion of trails and usage of 150 acres North West of the park

This expansion will provide usage and control of the 150 acres currently not used by the park. Hikers and bikers can use this area to explore this natural park further. This proposal will only be developed if bicycle trail usage has not negatively impacted the park experience as determined by the Friends of Ahwahnee Hills board. 

Step 1: Scout the 150 Acres property for an expansion of a single-track trail.

Step 2: Present trail expansion map to members of the board and community members.

Step 3: Obtain signage for the new trail.

Step 4: Pedal Forward Bikes & Adventure to organize and build the new trail with volunteers and community members.

Step 5: Open the new trail for the community.

This business plan was developed on behalf of the community by:

Jorge Negrete: Co-Owner – Vice President

Pedal Forward Bikes & Adventure, LLC

Yosemite South Gate Trails Board Member

559 760 6910

jorge@pedalforwardbikes.com

Michael Broderick: Co-owner – President

Pedal Forward Bikes & Adventure, LLC

559 967 8842

mike@pedalforwardbikes.com

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