For those not acquainted with the geography of Año Nuevo, or those who only visit this park during the breeding season, the trail to North Point is open for visitors to access two overlook viewing spots in the non-breeding season. The trail is usually open from April to November. However, due to seasonal streams and gullies, it is often inaccessible until mid-year when movable platforms can be put into place to bridge the damp terrain.  

In 2019 State Parks asked CSPA to fund the trail bridge project. Placing permanently fixed bridges allows the trail to be open as soon as the breeding season is over.  These fixtures will also help the UCSC researchers navigate through the reserve year-round when tracking, monitoring, and testing the elephant seals for their research. A good project example is the bio-acoustic research at Año Nuevo, as detailed in this linked article.

This project passed a rigorous months-long review process within State Parks, as these bridges are being installed inside a Natural Preserve.  Once the project was approved by State Parks the CSPA Board of Directors committed the funds to purchase and install the bridges.

On this foggy morning, as we awaited the arrival of the bridges, the CSPA Board of Directors were pleased that the project was moving forward even with the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. 

Truck Arrives Photo: CSPA Archives
Move to State Park vehicle Photo: CSPA Archives
Unloaded at closest access to trail Photo: CSPA Archives

Installation was scheduled for mid-August 2020 just a few short weeks after the delivery. However,the project was delayed due to the fires that struck the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Roads and Trails crew worked solidly for over a year to restore parks as much as possible after the fire. Late in 2021, the project restarted. The California Conservation Corps came in to install the bridges. They cleared the installation site, prepared the foundations, and hand-carried the bridges into place. Decking and side rails were then added. Additionally, the paths to the bridges were enhanced with rock and gravel.

Site Clearance Photo: courtesy CA State Parks
Foundation Prepared Photo: courtesy CA State Parks
Trail Rocks Photo: courtesy CA State Parks
Moving down the trail Photo: courtesy CA State Parks
Moving into place Photo: courtesy CA State Parks
Almost there! Photo: courtesy CA State Parks
Adding decking Photo: courtesy CA State Parks
Handrails in place Photo: courtesy CA State Parks
Finished bridge in place Photo: courtesy CA State Parks

Today, two bridges are ready to greet visitors on the North Point trail as of April when the 2021-22 breeding season is over. 

CSPA expresses a huge thank you to our Roads and Trails crew who continue to improve the parks for everyone who visits. And a special thanks to you, our supporters. Without your support these park improvements would not be possible.