A small band of hikers are walking from Oregon to Mexico to raise money and gather support for the proposed California Coastal Trail a 1,134-mile hiking path along the state's...
MONTARA, Calif. A small band of hikers are walking from Oregon to Mexico to raise money and gather support for the proposed California Coastal Trail a 1,134-mile hiking path along the state’s shoreline.
To realize their dream of an unbroken coastal trail that is currently only 60 percent complete, the trail’s advocates will have to win cooperation from private landowners, lumber companies and military bases.
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The core group of 10 hikers, whose median age is 62, started their journey June 3 at Pelican State Beach on the Oregon border. Walking an average of 12 miles a day, they are expected to arrive at the Mexico border on Sept. 22.
“We want the public to know the trail is here and we’re walking it,” said Linda Hanes of Sebastopol, a 63-year-old retired librarian, during a lunch break in the shade of a rocky cliff at Montara Beach, about 20 miles south of San Francisco. “We want to see where the gaps are in the trail.”
Coastwalk, a Sebastopol-based nonprofit group founded 20 years ago to advocate for the trail, organized the event to raise public awareness about coastal preservation and public access. It’s the second time since 1996 that the group has organized a coastal walk.
“Californians love the coast,” said Richard Nichols, Coastwalk’s executive director. “We need to both protect it and have access to it.”
Nichols said the group has raised about $50,000, including participant fees of $3,000 for food, accommodations and other expenses.
On some days, the participants hike on trails and beaches, staying as close to the ocean as possible. But where access is restricted, they walk on roads or navigate gated subdivisions without public access.
They have traversed spectacular scenery in places such as the Klamath River and the Mendocino Headlands. On most nights, hikers meet up with supporters who prepare meals and give talks on the coast’s natural history.
The finished portion of the trail is interrupted by private estates, military bases and freeways.
Trail supporters got a boost in 2001 when the California Assembly authorized the California Coastal Conservancy to work with other agencies to complete the trail.
Coastal officials estimate it could cost as much as $300 million to finish the trail, and its completion could be decades away.