Six months after the Nuns fire scorched large swaths of Trione-Annadel State Park, about two-thirds of the park remains closed to the hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners who adore its rugged terrain.
The wildfire incinerated directional signs, destroyed foot bridges and sent trees toppling across trails, creating a mountain of work for park trail crews, planners and volunteers laboring to get it reopened.
The loss of access has been tough for some of the park’s biggest fans to accept, said Dan Stamps, president of the Friends of Trione-Annadel State Park.
“I think everybody is frustrated,” Stamps said.
But they also understand that concerns about safety and erosion take precedence over their desire to get back into the more remote areas of the park right away, he said.
The organization, which has raised $40,000 to help the park since it formed last year, has participated in a number of volunteer workdays to get trails open as quickly as possible, Stamps said.
State parks crews have put 1,300 hours into trail projects since the fires and are getting close to being able to reopen most of the closed areas, said Vince Anibale, superintendent of the state parks Bay Area District.
“Staff really wants to get the park opened up, and we’re trying our best to make that happen,” Anibale said this week. “It’s quite extensive what we’ve done so far.”
The relatively dry winter has helped that work progress, he said. If all goes well, most of the areas now off limits will be opened sometime this month, Anibale said.
Three trails, however, likely will need more extensive work before they can fully reopen: the Marsh, South Burma and Ridge trails. Some have bridges that still need to be rebuilt, including permitting issues, he said.
The park was able to reopen a couple trails through the burn area in February, including parts of Two Quarry and Marsh trails. Unsure what trails might reopen when, the organizers of the Annadel Half Marathon had to get approval for a new route back in December, race director Tawnya Nason said.
The April 7 race has a new starting area — the Oak Knolls Picnic Area in Spring Lake Regional Park — and a significantly different route than has been used for six of the past seven years, she said.
Runners still start up Rough Go trail to pick up Cobblestone, but this year will follow Cobblestone all the way back down to Channel Drive. There, runners will run on pavement toward the park entrance, where they’ll hit the Channel trail before heading up Warren Richardson and Steve’s S trails. These connect to Louis, North Burma and Live Oak trails, taking runners past Lake Ilsanjo for the first time before descending to the finish. While the changes have created extra work for race staff and will take some education of runners, Nason is looking forward to the new route.
“Change is good. I think it’s OK to mix things up a little,” she said. “It does highlight a lot of cool terrain in the park that we’ve had in our race before.”
The race, which is sponsored by Fleet Feet and has grown every year since its inception, has always raised money for the park, averaging about $20,000 each year. Keenly aware of how much help the park needs, the race has boosted its fundraising goal to $30,000, she said.