Manes & Trails: Trails and pathways — they provide critical connections

By Karen Carlson

Trails and pathways are each important to any comprehensive trail plan. To attempt to have one without the other simply does not work, especially in communities like Ramona.

Trail and pathway plans fall under the supervision of the County Parks and Recreation Department, so it made sense for both trails and pathways to remain under the guidance and supervision of that department. Pathways typically received input from the Department of Public Works (DPW), since they deal with roadways and sidewalks and such but were still conditioned on permits and supervised by Parks and Rec. Last year things changed and unincorporated communities such as Ramona will have to see how it all plays out.

Trails are defined as soft-surfaced facilities for single or multiple uses by pedestrians, equestrians, and mountain bicyclists. They are typically away from motor vehicle roads and are primarily recreational in nature but can also serve as an alternative non-motorized transportation route.

The primary purpose of trails is to provide the recreation, transportation, health, and quality of life benefits associated with walking, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding throughout the County’s varied environments. Trails also provide accessibility and connectivity to scenic and recreational areas.

Pathways are non-motorized transportation routes located within a parkway or road right-of-way. A riding and hiking trail in the road right-of-way is considered a pathway. Typical pathway width is 10 feet with decomposed granite or natural tread surface material (not paved).

Pathways are intended to serve both circulation and recreation purposes. They provide a different experience from trails and are not an equivalent substitute, they help make critical connections and are an integral part of a functional trail system.

The Ramona Community Trails Plan provides details and descriptions related to both trails and pathways, maps of each, and a matrix or table as well. It is a well-planned cohesive document that can only prove to serve our community in years to come, and in many ways. To have one without the other would create a bunch of trails and pathways connected to nothing, thus worth nothing.

Ramona has had a Community Trails Plan since the late 1980s and a matrix of such since that time as well. In 2005 the plan was finally recognized and adopted by the county and placed under the Department of Parks and Recreation oversight. Our plan and many other community plans were updated in 2008 and the updates approved by the county.

Last year, about mid-year, the county moved the oversight of Pathways to strictly under the Department of Public Works. No longer does the Parks and Rec Department have much, if any, say related to pathways in our communities. This concerns me as a trails advocate, knowing that the DPW is not familiar with our community or not familiar with our Trails and Pathways Plan, or even worse — unfamiliar with both!

For instance there is supposed to be a pathway along Olive Street to have a connection to the Ramona Community Park and eventually the Santa Maria Creek Greenway project (once completed), and the DPW is putting in concrete sidewalks rather than the pathway that is in the plan. Concrete is not a pathway surface by definition. When I asked them about their plans to continue the pathway efforts out there, prior to them pouring the concrete, I was told that they “decided that since it is mostly commercial in the direct area, concrete would be used” — even to my protest and attempts to educate them about the Trails and Pathways Plan, and even though most of Olive Street is residential — all to no avail. Concrete went in.

Now with the DPW directly heading up pathways, I have to worry and wonder: Will there be any pathways built by definition? Will our Community Trails and Pathways Plan be killed by a governmental agency that seems not to know or care about it or our community?

There is some glimmer of hope with the DPW being interested in upgrading Barnett Ranch Open Space and the facilities within it by applying for a grant for such to go along with the San Vicente Road improvement project. They asked for community support at the Ramona Community Planning Group meeting at the end of 2012, and they seem to be aware of the pathway requirements for that particular project, at least at this time.

I have to admit that I am apprehensive about the change in oversight and how things may play out over the coming years. I will remain steadfast in my support and involvement in providing trails and pathways in and around the community of Ramona.

I will do my best to keep you all updated and hope that you may join me from time to time in supporting our community’s needs and wishes for trails and pathways. You can reach us at

Karen Carlson is a Ramona resident.

Related posts:

  1. Manes & Trails: Funding connections for a Trail to Nowhere
  2. Manes & Trails – A trail to nowhere: Easements and making connections
  3. Manes & Trails: A Trail to Nowhere
  4. Supervisors approved trails plan in June
  5. Manes and Trails: Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trail

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Posted by Staff on Jan 18 2013. Filed under Columnists, Columns, Country Living, Manes and Trails. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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