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Sonoma County Gazette
Bike riding along River Road by the Russian River

Regional Parks to Study Potential for Russian River Bike, Pedestrian Trail

Jan 11, 2018


Responding to community interest and safety concerns, Regional Parks will receive a $620,000 state grant from the California Department of Transportation to evaluate the potential for a trail running parallel to but separate from River Road and Highway 116.

The 19.3-mile study area runs along the river between Forestville and Highway 1 and includes the communities of Mirabel, Hacienda, Odd Fellows Park, Rio Nido, Guerneville, Guernewood Park, Vacation Beach, Northwood, Monte Rio, Villa Grande, Mesa Grande, and Duncans Mills.

The Lower Russian River Trail, from Odd Fellows Park Road to Duncans Mills, is part of a larger trail project. The 2010 County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan identifies a 23-mile Russian River Trail starting in Healdsburg and ending in Duncans Mills. The Project will offer visitors and residents using this trail to experience the scenic views of oak woodland, redwood forest, riparian habitat, river, and provide beach access for recreation.

A multi-use trail would provide a safe walking and cycling alternative for commuters and visitors traveling the corridor, including children and families getting to and from Monte Rio and Guerneville elementary schools. A trail also would add to recreation options in the popular tourism area and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions created by the more than 11,000 daily car trips on the route now.

“The grant is a great first step toward creating a long-awaited path along this beautiful corridor," said Fifth District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins. "A bike and pedestrian path would allow those who live in and love West County to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the lower Russian River while safely commuting to school, work or home.”

State officials notified Regional Parks of the award in December. The study could begin this summer and will include opportunities for residents, business owners and others to offer feedback on the potential linkages. Study findings would guide subsequent steps of trail design, acquisition, planning, environmental review, and fundraising.

Project Description & Goals

The first phase of this project is to study the feasibility of developing an approximately 9-mile paved trail along the lower Russian River corridor, between Odd Fellows Park Road and Duncans Mills. The Lower Russian River Trail starts at the intersection of River Road and Odd Fellows Park Road and continues southwest meandering along the Russian River corridor and State Highway 116 to the end at Moscow Road in Duncans Mills. This trail project is identified as a high priority in the 2010 Sonoma County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.

For the first step, a feasibility study needs to be completed for the trail, which is identified as a top priority in the 2009 Lower Russian River Community-Based Transportation Plan. The scope of the feasibility study will include but not limited to soliciting public input from the community and stakeholders, evaluating existing site conditions and roads, mapping, identifying opportunities and constraints, and recommending a preferred trail route.

Proposed Lower Russian River trai;

Project Goals

  • Develop a fun, safe, and scenic route for bicyclists and pedestrians recreating and travelling along the Russian River corridor between Odd Fellows Park Road (near Rio Nido & Korbel) and Moscow Road in Duncans Mills.
  • Provide bicyclists and pedestrians an alternate route to Highway 116 and River Road.
  • Construct 9 miles of Class 1 bikeway (trail) paralleling the Russian River
  • Connect the trail to communities, existing and future river parks, recreational facilities, and local businesses located between Rio Nido and Duncans Mills.
  • Attract additional tourism for local businesses in the Russian River area
  • Complete high priority project as identified in the Sonoma County Transportation Authority approved 2009 Lower Russian River Community-Based Transportation Plan and the Sonoma County adopted 2010 County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, which also designates Regional Parks as responsible for establishing and maintaining Class I bikeways.

The total estimated cost for the study is $793,500, with additional funding including $120,000 from the Northern Sonoma County Air Pollution Control District, $5,000 from the Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation, $5,000 from the Monte Rio Recreation & Park District, $2,500 from the Russian River Recreation & Parks District, $1,000 from The Wildlands Conservancy, and $10,000 from the Sonoma County Advertising Program and local park mitigation fees.

Similar Bike Trails

In recent years, Regional Parks has been awarded similar grants to study two other major bike and pedestrian trails. One is a proposed trail between Sebastopol and Petaluma. That feasibility study is expected to be completed in March.  The other trail studied is a proposed Sonoma Valley trail connecting Santa Rosa and Sonoma. That feasibility study was completed in 2016 and identified a preferred trail alignment along Highway 12 that could be built in phases as funding becomes available. 



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