Eleven public and private groups have formalized a plan to construct a 40-mile, multiuse trail across the Peninsula that connects the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean, but the project won’t be complete for 17 years.

What’s known as the Bay to Sea Trail is slated for completion in 2037, though it will likely be built in phases, some of which could open well before then, said Rachael Faye, public access program manager for nonprofit Peninsula Open Space Trust. POST protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay.

POST is one of the 11 public agencies and nonprofits collaborating on the project along with the California State Coastal Conservancy, MidPeninsula Regional Open Space District, Coastside Land Trust and San Mateo County Parks as well as the cities of Redwood City and Half Moon Bay.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, with its ongoing shelter-in-place mandates, has underscored just how crucial access to nature is for everyone’s physical and mental well-being,” Faye said in a statement. “When completed, the Bay to Sea Trail will provide an extraordinary recreational opportunity in the Bay Area. It will connect communities and transit hubs to provide unprecedented open space access for all.”

Long a dream of many, the idea for a trail connecting the Bay to the ocean has been discussed for decades.

Faye said 17 years is needed for the project because it involves coordination among 11 organizations and there are involved design, land protection as well as community input phases.

“It’s a complex project,” she said. “Even creating a segment of a trail can take years from design to completion and we’re looking at 40 miles of that.”

The path of the trail is not yet finalized, but the trail will connect the existing San Francisco Bay Trail to the California Coastal Trail. Trail heads will likely be at Bair Island and the Ravenswood Open Space Preserve on the Bay side of the county, and south of Half Moon Bay at Wavecrest Open Space Preserve and the southern end of Cowell Ranch State Beach on the ocean side of the county.

“It’ll be like a stitch that connects four north/south regional trails,” Faye said.

“If one wanted to they could start in Redwood City and hike or ride a bike to the Bay Area Ridge Trail and head north to San Francisco.”

The trail is intended for walking, hiking, biking and equestrian use, and it may also include a campground or other overnight accommodations for backpackers, Faye said.

“Connecting the trail I anticipate would be step one, but we’d be looking in our planning efforts to see how a 40-mile trail can be enjoyed in a continuous trip over multiple days,” Faye said.

Faye said it’s too early to estimate the cost of the project, but noted existing trails in the county cost roughly $1 million per mile. The project will ultimately be funded by contributions from the partner organizations as well as grants and donations.

A feasibility study is expected to launch later this year and part of that effort will be to determine the phases of the project, Faye said.

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