September 4, 2008

New Vistas Open for Hikers

By Anonymous

The commitment of a Lafayette Eagle Scout is opening up new territory for hikers between Lime Ridge Open Space and Mt. Diablo State Park.

On Save Mount Diablo's newly acquired 208-acre Mangini Ranch property, John Wilcox -- along with volunteers from his Scout Troop 243 in Lafayette, family and friends -- recently spent a weekend building a footbridge to improve access to the land that previously only had fire trails.

"I think it was better than I envisioned," said Wilcox, who will start his junior year at Acalanes High in the fall.

Wilcox first visited the site in spring 2007 and began to seriously think about the project that fall. His mother, Karen Vogt- Wilcox, is a structural engineer who designed the plans for the footbridge.

Wilcox raised money throughout the spring, about $1,800, to pay for the cost of building the structure, and he also received discounted materials, Vogt-Wilcox said.

Bridge foundations were poured in early June, and to ensure that construction went smoothly three weeks later, post holes were measured and drilled, and posts cut ahead of time for the two nine- hour workdays.

The Scout had talked with the East Bay Trail Dogs, trained volunteers who assist public agencies in Contra Costa and Alameda counties with the design, construction and maintenance of multi-use trails.

The Trail Dogs began last fall building four new trails on the property, said spokesman Harry Silcocks.

He said the group was asked by Seth Adams, director of land programs with Save Mount Diablo, to build the mile's worth of trails that cross and loop around the property.

"We design a trail from scratch," said Silcocks, who noted that pathways wind through grasslands and tree canopies and offer excellent views. "We enjoy what we're doing. We try to design a trail that is enjoyable to walk."

Mangini Ranch is currently open only for guided tours. The property represents a gap between Lime Ridge Open Space and Mt. Diablo State Park, said Adams, but he noted that there is still a half-mile to close the connection between the properties.

The Mangini land encompasses creeks, two springs, ridges and canyons, woodland and chaparral, has high ridgeline views to Marin, Sonoma and Solano counties, and some rare wildlife, according to the Save Mount Diablo Web site. A dedication ceremony was held in June.NEW VISTAS-- A two-to three-mile hike through the Mangini Ranch property is planned for 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, Aug. 10, led by David Ogden, that will include traversing the new trails and footbridge across Galindo Creek. Participants will meet at Galindo Creek, off Crystyl Ranch Drive south in Concord. Parking is available on the road at the creek intersection with the riding and hiking trail. There will be an opportunity to see rare desert olive scrub, Hospital Canyon larkspur, Jepsons coyote thistle, and possibly burrowing owls. For information, call 925-256-9404 or e-mail [email protected]

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