Brian Damschen: Pipeline Trail a ‘Labor of Love’

I appreciate the time and effort put into independently researching your Trail Mix article. Few people have taken the time to get a more in-depth look at the situation surrounding our local trails in Monterey County and especially Toro Park. As a member of the Highway 68 Hillbillies and a Mountain Biker for over 30 years(the last 19 of those in Monterey County), I did feel that the mountain bike perspective on useage in the park could have been a little better represented, but I understand we don’t have as many members of our community who are publicly vocal as those who would prefer to remove bikes from the park altogether.

As a Highway 68 Hillbilly, I did notice some inaccuracies in your reporting that I felt should be corrected. In your article you claimed the Highway 68 Hillbillies are taking credit for converting Marks and Harper canyon trails to biking trails:

“The trail apparently was crafted early this decade by the Highway 68 Hillbillies, who also take credit for converting hiking trails to biking trails in Marks and Harper canyons.”

I would like to clarify that the Pipeline trail in Toro park is the only trail the Highway 68 Hillbillies have worked to create and that this trail was built from scratch in collaboration with the parks department at the time, rather than converting an existing hiking trail. Back then there were no bicycle only trails in Toro Park. The Hillbillies wanted to create something fun and challenging for mountain bikers that would also help alleviate any trail conflicts with hikers and horses that that could arise when mountain bikes are descending a technical trail. The Hillbillies, with help from others on specified trail work days organized by the park department, planned, flagged and cut in this trail from top to bottom. Since it’s construction we have been actively working to maintain this trail with the permission from rangers in Toro Park. It has been a labor of love for the Highway 68 Hillbillies for many years, and hopefully we will be able to continue to maintain this trail in the future. I have attached a picture of two very excited Hillbillies on the day Toro Park employees installed a freshly minted Pipeline Trail sign. Unfortunately that sign has since been repeatedly vandalized by unknown parties. We found it cast down into a nearby canyon several times and returned it to it’s correct location, however the sign was finally stolen.

The Hillbillies have also participated in park sanctioned trail work days. We have worked with park rangers and Toro Park users to help prevent erosion and trim back overgrowth on other trails in the park, however we are not responsible for converting Marks and Harper canyon trails to biking trails.

At the end of the day, we as a group are more than happy to share all sanctioned trails in Toro Park with all user groups- hiker, runner, equestrian, and cyclist alike. Hopefully we can all work together to help reduce trail conflict and maintain the amazing trail system that our county park has to offer. We are always willing to lend a hand to help make everyone’s trail experience a good one.

Brian Damschen


About VOMB

Voices of Monterey Bay is a nonprofit online news source serving California's Central Coast.