Q&A with Janet McBride, Executive Director, Bay Area Ridge Trail Council

Janet McBride Bay Area Ridge Trail Council

Franklin Ridge & the Bay Area Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail was founded in the late 1980’s at the same time as John Muir Land Trust to advance a very bold idea. Its mission is to unite the ridges encircling the Bay Area into one continuous park with a 550-mile trail loop. Each year new sections are added, and today an extraordinary 400 miles of trail are open to the public. The Ridge Trail works with land trusts and others to make this happen. The Campaign to Expand Franklin Ridge will add vital missing sections.


Janet, why does Franklin Ridge matter to the Ridge Trail?

This is a big deal. Wildlife habitat and regional trails need the same thing: connectivity. Connecting the Ridge Trail from Martinez south and then west is a must-have if we are to complete the grand vision of a continuous loop. JMLT’s acquisition of Almond Ranch a few years ago added a crucial missing piece. The Kenneth Gerlack Preserve enhances that connection. Barnett Ranch makes possible what is likely to be our only path across Highway 4. Getting across the highway has been a conundrum, and this helps solve it! I should also point out that this campaign is a “2 trails for 1” opportunity. The Ridge Trail and the equally visionary Carquinez Strait Scenic Loop Trail align here. In fact, so many regional trails come together at Carquinez Strait, that it’s really a “Lots for 1” opportunity! These two acquisitions are just as important as things like the completed bicycle and pedestrian paths across the bridges. By the way, if people haven’t been out to explore that, it’s really impressive.

How does progress on the Ridge Trail come about?

On a Council visit to Almond Ranch are left to right: Executive Director, Janet McBride, board member Charlie Bowen and volunteer Jan Neufeld.

Exactly like this. With inspiration and perspiration. The Council works with partners to fill in missing pieces, and no partners are more important than our Bay Area land trusts and their supporters. Land trusts such as JMLT do the heavy lifting. They negotiate with landowners. Their generous supporters provide the funds needed to buy the land. Then, after acquisition, land trusts steward the land and maintain the trails for the public to enjoy. The Ridge Trail helps any way that we can: as advocates, as fundraising partners, and as messengers to get the word out. At the end of the day, it all happens only if the land trust community succeeds. Our website has information on this, and trail maps, stories, photos, and much more.

Why is this work important?

There is growing recognition that exercise and exposure to nature are essential to human health and well-being. How many metropolitan areas have the potential for a continuous trail loop—a single park—that connects all of our communities together? This is an opportunity for epic adventure near where we live and work. To recreate with friends and to connect to nature. But we can only succeed piece-by-piece. Let’s do these two new acquisitions, and then get on to the next ones. We can do this with the help of JMLT and the JMLT community of supporters.

⇒ Learn more about the Bay Area Ridge Trail