2023 End Of Year Letter from our Executive Director

December 25, 2023

I am grateful for this time of year when I get to take a few quiet moments to put pen to paper and reflect on the accomplishments of the past year, our plans for the year ahead, and on the positive impact trails have on our community and ourselves.

I have found that it's too easy to take our world-class access to trails for granted, and I sometimes have to remind myself how fortunate I am to get to enjoy it. Trails are the conduit to the natural world, the pathway to an ever-fleeting sense of wonder and freedom, the basis for an environmental mindset. Trails have helped me maintain peace of mind, stay healthy, and build strong relationships with others. Trails have been a constant source of joy, no matter what each day brings. I'm willing to bet that you've felt some of their magic too. Making sure that you and our entire community can share in this is why we do what we do at SCMTS.

All of these benefits are the results of the hard work of our volunteers, donors, members, staff, and partnering land managers. I’m proud to share all that we’ve done together this year to get more people outside, on trails, and invested in our open spaces.

We were the first responders out on the trails after extreme weather events. Our staff and volunteers provided lightning-fast trail cleanup and restoration during January’s historic storms, and we channeled the power of our community to support the rebuilding of the Flow Trail and reopening of Soquel Demonstration State Forest. Our professional SCMTS Trail Crew put boots on the ground to help rebuild the fire-damaged trails at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. With your support, we’ll keep trails accessible to all despite increasingly extreme weather patterns.

We also maintained over 60 miles of local trail to help folks of all ages, all abilities, and all backgrounds get outside and have fun. Our first-ever National Trails Day event brought together over 600 volunteers at once to create monumental improvements across nineteen local trails in just one morning. Overall, we hosted 914 volunteers in the field to complete 5,254 hours of skilled trail work across the region. We are awed by the power of our ever-growing community of volunteers to make massive contributions to improving access and having a good time in the process.

Finally, we completed another two miles of trail at Cotoni-Coast Dairies to create brand-new access to the beautiful Santa Cruz County coast. We built and opened two new pump tracks in new areas for us; one in Marina and one in Menlo Park. These new tracks will spark a love of the outdoors in local youth, and with each lap, they are helping create strong, healthy, resilient communities.

Next year, we’ll keep our momentum going. We’ll roll out bilingual events so that more people can experience the fun; we’ll finish up the entire nine-mile northern trail network at Cotoni-Coast Dairies so we can all get out there together, and we’ll continue to work on trail restoration in the Big Basin backcountry to help reopen California’s oldest State Park.

If you’ve felt the magic of trails this year, please consider making a donation to our Timeless Trails campaign. All contributions made now until the end of the year will be doubled thanks to a generous donor. It has never been a better time to give.

Thank you and see you on the trails,

Matt De Young

Executive Director

Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Stewardship


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