by Randy Vail
On Friday, June 25th at 1:30 pm the Use and Management Committee of the Mid-peninsula Regional Open Space District held a special meeting to decide on the development of trails in the Mindego Hill Open Space.
Originally purchased by POST from long time land owners, the True family, Mindego Hill was subsequently purchased by MROSD with the agreement that they would provide public access to the top of the hill by the summer of 2011.
The committee decided to proceed with the first of two options of a planned trail route to the top of the hill from the gate that connects it to the adjacent Russian Ridge Open Space. Several studies of native wildlife, including the protected San Francisco Garter Snake, are underway before further development will take place. However, it seems likely that the Option 2 trail, which includes an existing road on the property, will eventually be opened, and there is the possibility that the two trails will be connected to create a loop around the hill.
Initially, the trail will be open only to hikers, but in a year or so, pending the outcomes of the various studies, the trail may opened to equestrian users and possibly mountain bikers. The process of creating a trail involves the approval of various agencies and various permits and necessitates many considerations of steepness, views of the hill, lines of sight on the trails, views from the trail, trail routes through various vegetation areas and wildlife habitats, and the potentially conflicting interests of public users.
At the meeting, the possibility of eventually connecting the Mindego trails with the Cuesta La Honda Guild trails was raised. Some of the committee members seemed amenable to the prospect of potentially connecting the Mindego Open Space with the La Honda Open Space. However, discussion, decision, approval, and action are lengthy and involved processes that will take years. In the meantime, initial public access to this beautiful and majestic open space - in our own backyard - is now only one year away.
The following is a brief history of Mindego Hill from http://www.gomindego.org/history.php
"People have lived on Mindego Hill since 500 A.D., beginning with the Ramaytush Costanoans, a group of Native American hunter-gatherers. They thrived in the area until the early 1800s, when immigrants arrived to settle the West.
In 1859, Juan Mendico, a Basque farmer and the first non-native settler, established a homestead and cattle ranch here. Historian Bud Foss, in his 1941 book History of La Honda, describes the California Grizzly Bear that once frequented Mindego Hill, and how in 1885 they got away with seven of Juan’s calves. Interestingly, in the Basque language, Juan Mendico’s name means “John of the Mountain”—a prophetic coincidence, considering the property was eventually named for him as “Mindego” Hill.
In 1954, Admiral Arnold True, a World War II veteran and professor of meteorology, and his wife, Corinne, purchased Mindego Hill, where they continued the ranching traditions of the land. In 1977, their son Chris took over management of the ranch and later began raising Brahman and Angus cattle as well as a cross of the two breeds for rodeo bull-riding. Admiral True passed away in 1979, and Mrs. True passed away in late 2006. The couple always treasured the natural beauty of their land and spoke often of preserving it. In honor of their parents’ wishes, the True family finalized an agreement with POST to protect the land permanently. Thanks to our mutual goal of land conservation, we all have a unique opportunity to save Mindego Hill for generations to come."