Enlightened government – Marin Municipal Water District

Pine Mountain Road descent to Kent Lake.

Pine Mountain Road descent to Kent Lake.


Water districts are no friend of cyclists around these parts, except in Marin County. The Marin Municipal Water District takes an enlightened approach to managing its 18,000 acres.

No doubt they realize that trying to keep people out is a lost cause when Marin County residents’ backyards border district land, so they make the best of it.

There’s plenty of bike riding. Not to be missed — Pine Mountain Road and San Geronimo Ridge Road. Of course, there’s also the railroad grade up Mt. Tamalpais. We’re talking Shay locomotives, so the grade can be 8 percent. It’s no wonder the mountain bike got its start here.

San Jose, San Francisco disappoint
The same cannot be said for the San Jose Water or San Francisco water departments. They must own stock in a razor-wire company.

After decades of public pressure, San Francisco finally allows people onto the peninsula watershed overlooking Lower Crystal Springs Reservoir, but it’s docent led. I find this description particularly offensive describing Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail. “Because of environmental restrictions within our fragile ecosystem, groups must be accompanied by a volunteer trail leader.”

Marin County’s watershed isn’t fragile?

San Jose Water Department, in business since 1866 and publicly owned (listed on the NYSE), is even worse. They took over the South Pacific Coast right of way at Aldercroft Heights in 1947 right under the noses of Santa Clara County officials.

The right-of-way runs through a narrow canyon cut by Los Gatos Creek between Aldercroft Heights and Wrights Station Road. It’s one of the more spectacular roads you could ever hope to visit, but today it’s off limits with high fences and frequent guard patrols. Paranoia runs deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

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