Marsh Creek Trail extension in the works

The East Bay Regional Park District is examining plans to extend the Marsh Creek Regional Trail three miles to Round Valley Regional Preserve.

The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) is looking at options to enhance recreational opportunities in East County by extending the popular Marsh Creek Regional Trail.

Passing through Oakley, Brentwood and Contra Costa County, the trail currently runs for 9.2 miles from Big Break Regional Shoreline south to Concord Avenue. The EBRPD plan will extend the trail south from the intersection of Vineyards Parkway and Miwok Avenue to Round Valley Regional Preserve, a distance of about 3 miles. According to Sean Dougan, trails development program manager with EBRPD, Shea Builders will provide a mile-long trail link from Concord Avenue to Miwok Avenue.

“The intent of this project is to identify the preferred route for a regional trail from Vineyards Parkway in Brentwood, through or next to John Marsh State Historic Park and all the way to the Round Valley Regional Preserve to the south,” said Dougan. “That leads into Round Valley, and eventually Morgan Territory if we can connect it.”

EBRPD developed three different trail alignments, and meetings were held in April and August to gather public input on the designs. Paved and unpaved options were developed for the multi-use trail that will accommodate hikes, bikers and equestrians. One of the principal features of the trail will be a safe way to get trail users across busy Marsh Creek Road.

“A real part of this study is how are we going to get across Marsh Creek Road,” said Dougan. “The state park is on the north side, (and) the Round Valley Regional Preserve is on the south. What is being suggested is a tunnel underneath the road. People drive way too fast on that road, so people crossing at grade does not seem like a safe option. Building a bridge over it is far more expensive.”

The trail will run through either the John Marsh State Historic Park property or through Contra Costa County Flood Control District land, and that requires the cooperation of a wide variety of interests. While the state park has not yet opened to the public, there appear to be opportunities that would be mutually beneficial for the trail and park.

“They’re very interested in the fact that we want to build an interpretive stop (in Marsh Creek State Historic Park),” said Rick Lemyre, executive director of the John Marsh Historic Trust.

Lemyre suggested that bringing visitors to the state park property could motivate the state to fully open the park.

“The guys on the ground, the rangers, the maintenance people – they want that park open,” said Lemyre.

While EBRPD is attempting to reach Round Valley, the county is in the early stages of developing a trail from Round Valley west through Morgan Territory and into the City of Clayton. That effort would add a trail segment approximately 13 miles long that hikers and riders could access at the end of the Marsh Creek Regional trail. Jamar Stamps, senior planner with the Contra Costa County Department of Conservation and Development said the project is just beginning to develop base-level maps, and possible routes have yet to be considered.

“Following the finalizing of our base maps, we will begin our public outreach process,” said Stamps. “We intend for that outreach to be very extensive, because the corridor is very large, and there are a lot of interested parties along that corridor – public property owners as well as private property owners.”

Stamps expects the first public meeting to discuss the county’s initiative will occur sometime early next year.

The EBRPD expects to select its trail route by the end of the year. By the mid-2020, the design should be complete and a cost estimate developed.

“We want to identify the preferred route,” said Dougan. “But then they’re also going to do environmental studies on the preferred route that we choose, hopefully adopt that document pursuant to CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) and get a pretty detailed design at the end of it – what we need to do there. It’s a feasibility study, but is a sort of design and environmental (study) as well. It’s a feasibility study plus.”