6 Reasons to Love the Salinas River Trail
Enjoy the new Salinas River Trail in Paso Robles
By Maria McGuire
Like most people, when I first heard about the idea of developing a trail system along the Salinas River, I thought it was a great idea. Now that the newest section of the trail is complete, namely the portion connecting Niblick and 13th Street, I realize the possibilities are more involved and numerous for this project than I ever imagined.
Little did I realize the plan for the trail system involves more than Paso Robles. The vision is to eventually connect the Salinas River Corridors beginning in Santa Margarita all the way up to San Miguel! There are countless reasons to love the Salinas River Trail. I will highlight a few that I discovered.
1. Everyone Wins!
In 2003 the City of Paso Robles received a grant from National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservations Assistance (RTCA) Program. The grant enabled the City to conduct a public outreach and community visioning effort for the Paso Robles portion of the Salinas River Corridor Master Plan.
Truly a collaborative effort from its inception, the planning and implementation process involved input from many different sources. Individual community members including property owners along the river, came together to discuss the project.
Many organizations, such as the City of Paso Robles, the California Conservation Corp, Chamber of Commerce, Amigos de Anza, US Fish and Wildlife Services, Army Corp of Engineers and Landscape Architect Volunteers, jumped on board to develop a plan.
Involving diverse groups in a shared vision allowed for each party to contribute their particular expertise for the good of the project. As a result, the interests of people from many walks of life were respected. In this case, everyone wins.
2. Economic Expansion
One of the visions for the trail system is to connect with Downtown Paso Robles thereby expanding the possibilities for economic growth in the city. Safer connections between the East and West sides of town mean more frequent use of bicycles and pedestrians, which creates more opportunities to visit downtown. And, the trail encourages a more active and healthy lifestyle. This helps creates an image of Paso as a destination spot offering a variety of activities and areas to explore. Tourists can now wine, dine and go for a hike, ride or run.
3. Environmental Awareness
The Salinas River is truly a natural asset of the northern end of the county that is perhaps at times overlooked. It benefits all residents to understand the ecology of the Salinas River. Sensitivity towards appropriate plantings and usage along the area between river and land can help prolong its vitality. Eventually, an educational element with interpretive centers could be implemented for school and community programs. With the river now more exposed to the trail, individuals can enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty of this neighborhood gem.
￼￼￼￼4. Multi-use Recreation ￼
The greatest benefit of a trail system along the river is all the fun things that one can do on it! Hikers, bicyclists, bird-watchers, runners, walkers, dog walkers and educators all can and do enjoy this trail. Opportunities for future recreation exist as well. Seasonal sports, such as kayaking could be integrated in favorable years. Running events too might find a place on the River Trail.
Those working on the Salinas River Trail plan envisioned a trail system with many connections. The East and West side of Paso would connect on the trail as would the South and Northern ends of the city. The vision for connections goes further with ideas for synthesis between new vs historic elements of the river as well as natural vs man-made materials. Indeed, the effort is for thoughtful balance in this project.
6. But wait there’s more!
A final piece of this project is to connect communities in northern SLO County. SLOCOG (San Luis Obispo Council of Governments) seeks to plan the trail system linking Santa Margarita all the way to San Miguel, with each city responsible for its own section of the trail. Potentially, Atascadero, Templeton, Paso Robles and San Miguel corridors could all be connected through river trails. What a wonderful asset to our county this would be!
You can get involved! The next public workshop for the Northern SLO County Salinas River Trail Master Plan will be on July 15 at the Paso Robles City Hall/Library from 6-9. For more information or to leave comments on the plan, go to http://salinasrivertrail.com/
Heard at the river…
Recently, I spent some time down at the Salinas River Trail asking people what they thought of the new trail. Here are some excerpts:
Madelyn: It’s a great trail for running! I am training for a 10k run on it right now. I like it because there is room for everyone- walkers, runners…I like how it connects the whole area. I also like that I can avoid 13th street on my bike. It’s a great improvement to our community and I use it 2-3 times per week.
Lou: I ride my bike on the trail and mostly use it to avoid traffic. It’s great to avoid the mess on 13th street which is not bike-friendly. It’s nice to take in the view while riding on the trail.
Paula and Ann: We like walking our dogs on the trail. There are always other people walking dogs here. We live in the country and drive in to walk the trail. It would be nice if there were more hiking trails.
Bob: I like this trail a lot! I walk my dog every day and there are always friendly people I meet. It is peaceful and not overly crowded. ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼
Kathy: It is awesome! I live in Pennsylvania and while visiting here, I like to walk to get a good workout. There is room for walkers, bikers and dogs and most people are friendly. ￼