In the 1860s, two Swiss families acquired two former Spanish land grants,
which stretched from Scott Creek in the north to Laguna Creek in the south. They formed the Coast Dairies & Land Company.
By the 1920s, these families had moved back to Switzerland, but they and their heirs continued to lease land to local farmers and dairy operators.
Much of this stretch of coast remained more or less as it had been in the 19th century. Plans to develop this area in the 1960's
were ultimately quashed by Proposition 20 (1972) and the Coastal Act (1976). In 1998, the Trust for Public Lands acquired the land,
and in 2009 completed the transfer of the land to the State of California, to be managed by the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR).
In addition, in October of 2012, the rail corridor which runs directly through this area, was acquired by the
Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission.
Together, this means that the vast majority of land in this area is now publicly owned.
Along the coast, this land has remained primarily in agriculture — and this is appropriate since the historical character
of this area is inextricably interwoven with the area's farms. The farms are also important economically, and of course because they provide
humanity's most valuable resource — food.
But the DPR's focus is public access and recreation. So, while maintaining the agriculture, it should also encourage
compatible uses of coastal trails along the ocean and parallel to the railroad corridor for public recreation and transportation.
The goal of Run by the Sea is to highlight the incredible resource that now lies in the public trust, and to encourage
this and other sustainable recreational uses that allow the broader community to experience the area in harmony with the farms.
The Run By the Sea promotes the development of the coastal rail trail from Davenport to Santa Cruz - so why isn't the run between Davenport and Santa Cruz? Because the government agency that owns it (SCCRTC)
does not yet permit open public use of the rail corridor. They are working hard to make a permanent trail and have produced a Master Plan for the Rail Trail.
In the 3 mile section of the rail trail north of Wilder Ranch, there is a well-maintained farm road parallel to the tracks (as far as Scaroni Rd.) Unfortunately, the current plan may prohibit access here for 20 or more years.
In the meantime, the SCCRTC is planning to post no trespassing signs here (and along the entire rail corridor).
The alternative route is Highway 1, where there have been numerous accidents, including fatalities.
We believe that public safety would be enhanced by opening this trail, and that the safety and recreational benefit to our community outweighs the manageable liability issues.
Here are some images of the farm road/rail trail path from Wilder Ranch to Scaroni Rd.
Here are a few images of rail trails in other parts of the country (some have active train service)
that inspire us to want to see our rail trail in this area opened.
Some runners have asked why we have a beach crossing in the Run by the Sea. That's because it's currently the only legal way to get from Wilder Ranch to the northern bluff trails.
The current Wilder Ranch maps show that you can use the rail connector, but these maps are actually encouraging illegal access!
The farm trails that aren't adjacent to the tracks are open to recreational use (since those belong to CA State Parks).
We thank the SCCRTC for it's incredibly hard work to make the rail trail a possibility.
But it could be 20 or more years before the SCCRTC's vision has funding — and we believe that this section should be open to the public now.
Click here to view our full proposal for the Ohlone Rail Trail. Although the SCCRTC is busy, we did offer to post their reponse to these ideas (requested 6/2/2014). If they provide one, it will be posted here!