Open Space Road and Trail Management

Collaborating on preservation and improvement priorities for open space roads and trails


Road and Trail Management Plan

Developed with substantial feedback from the community, the Road and Trail Management Plan is an inclusive, science-based, comprehensive plan to address the complex challenges of Marin County Open Space District (MCOSD) roads and trails. Plan goals:
  • Establish and maintain a sustainable system of roads and trails that meet design and management standards.
  • Reduce the environmental impact of roads and trails on sensitive resources, habitats, riparian areas, native and special-status plant and animal species.
  • Improve the visitor experience and visitor safety for all users, including hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians.
Learn more about road and trail management.

Road and Trail Designation 

Few Marin County open space roads and trails were formally planned or designed for public access. Most were originally built to be logging and ranch roads, fire and emergency access roads, utility access roads, or informal trails which evolved from repeated social use. After voters passed Measure A in 2012, Marin County Open Space District (MCOSD) began a multi-year process of engaging with the community to designate a road and trail system that could protect natural resources while optimizing visitor recreational experiences. In 2022, MCOSD met the goal of completing a recommended designation for all county preserves. Learn more about road and trail designation.
The chart below shows the progress MCOSD made over the six years toward road and trail designation in open space preserves, with all thirty-four preserves going through the designation process.

Community Engagement

In 2015, the MCOSD began the collaborative public process of formally designating a road and trail system in Marin County open space preserves. This process is taking place on a regional basis over several years. The objective is to identify designated roads and trails and their permitted uses. This also provides a basis for the annual budget review of recommended open space road and trail projects. Get more information about road and trail projects.
Environmental Roundtable meeting at Civic Center.
Hiker, equestrian, and cyclists passing on a fire road.
Group reviewing proposed designation maps.

Case Study: The Plunge

A section of the Old Railroad Grade trail in Loma Alta Preserve was deeply rutted and in poor condition. Traveling through two watercourses with steep banks, it became known as "The Plunge." With community feedback from hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians, as well as environmental organizations, rehabilitation of this area was identified as a priority project. Funds were allocated in the FY 2015-16 budget. A new bridge and habitat restoration resulted in a safer, more sustainable, multiuse trail.  Work was completed in 2017. Learn more about the Old Railroad Grade project.
Senior woman hiking across plunge bridge.

Multiple Benefits

The road and trail designation process improves recreational access and safety while advancing ecosystem preservation. The chart below shows as of September 2022 there is a 10% increase in total designated road and trail miles. As designated and sustainable trail miles increase, unsustainable social trail miles have decreased by 17%.

Road and Trail Volunteers

Volunteer workdays support road and trail projects. Marin residents of all ages and abilities bring smiles and community spirit as they work together on the road and trail projects they believe in. Learn more about volunteer opportunities.
Young volunteer working on a trail.
Volunteers at Marin County Parks tent.
Man holding a weed wrench.
Group of volunteers.
Volunteers working on a trail.
Older man in Parks hat holding a rake.

For more information about Marin County Parks, visit marincountyparks.org.
Link to Marin County Parks website.