Trail taking shape at Montini Preserve

  • Ken Baughman works his way through a rocky area while building the Montini Open space Preserve Trail that he and the company he works for Don Hays Trail Construction is building in the Montini Open Space Preserve in Sonoma on Friday July 12, 2013. (Scott Manchester/For The Press Democrat)

High on an oak-studded hillside overlooking Sonoma, shadows fell Friday across a newly carved rock and dirt path where Don Hays stopped to admire his crews' handiwork.

"See the moss here," the Tahoe City man said, running his hands across large boulders bordering the path. "We're careful not to scrape this away."

Construction of a 1.8-mile trail at the 98-acre Montini Open Space Preserve is the last remaining hurdle before the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District hands over the site to the city. County supervisors authorized the transfer in March.

Montini Ranch Trail


Hays, whose company began work on the trail two weeks ago and is being paid $375,000, said his goal is to make the undulating and winding path appear as if it has been part of the landscape forever.

"I like it when people don't ever think about what they are walking on because they are so involved in the natural world around them," he said.

Using small excavators, machine rollers and their own hands, Hays and his crew of six are carving out a path that winds across and up the grass and tree-covered hillside. Small flags stuck in the ground point the way.

Once opened, the public will be able to hike the easy-to-moderate path and take in gorgeous views of Sonoma. The new route will connect to the city's Overlook Trail, extending the journey.

On Friday, crews worked on a roughly 1,300-foot section of trail leading from Fourth Street West that is supposed to meet federal disability standards for backcountry trails. The section traverses property owned by California State Parks, which has licensed its use by the county.

Hays said the section will have a grade of three to four percent, about half what he said is required by law to meet disability requirements. It will be paved with compacted aggregate, which Hays said is the material used on highways beneath top-layer asphalt.

Torina Duplantier, who lives on Montini Way near the Fourth Street West trailhead, expressed doubt that she'll actually be able to access the site in her wheelchair. But she and her husband, Dave, expressed eagerness to try it out.

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