On Friday, I joined about 50 others in a ribbon-cutting that marked the official opening and dedication of the Three Bridges Oak Preserve. The new trail is the result of about 10 years of work by members of Atascadero Land Preservation Society.
The society was assisted, of course, by the Trust for Public Land, City of Atascadero, the California Natural Resources Agency, and others.
Once all the permits were in place, the hard work of cutting in trails on slightly more than 103 acres involved many volunteers (most society members) and the hard-working members of the California Conservation Corps. At the first kiosk at the trailhead, you see pictures of volunteers cutting in walking trails where none existed before. One picture shows several volunteers hiking up the trail carrying a giant piece of what was to become a bridge.
At last Friday’s ceremony, society president Mike Orvis said that Three Bridges would be there for future generations to enjoy. He gave a brief history of turning the land into this piece of property centered around the three bridges of Highway 41 in Atascadero, along Morro Road.
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In fact, when you begin the hike, you walk next to the original pipes that carry Atascadero Creek water to Atascadero Lake. The original gate valves are still there in a concrete box next to the trail’s edge.
A statement released with Friday’s program says, in part, that the Three Bridges Oak Preserve “preserves in perpetuity the natural resources and watershed qualities of this land as well as the riparian, oak forest, and chaparral ecosystems which are the habitats for local flora and fauna.”
Sunday morning, I met a six-grade teacher on the trail who was already trying to figure out a way to get her students to the site.
Judging from the parking lot, the trail is already popular. I haven’t made the whole loop yet but plan to real soon.
The trailhead is well-marked if you drive up San Gabriel Road from Morro Road.
But right now, you can take a shortcut by going through the dry creek crossing off Morro Road to Carmelita Avenue, which dead-ends into the trailhead parking lot. There is plenty of room for parking, even for trucks pulling horse trailers. The trail is open to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.
The land preservation society should be proud of its accomplishment. The late Marj Mackey, founder of the group, (and the native tree association and Atascadero Historical Society), would be so proud of what has taken place. Marj’s daughter Dean Young was at the ribbon-cutting, wearing one of her mom’s old tree-hugging T-shirts. Marj was also on the city’s first City Council and was the first woman mayor of Atascadero.