It’s official—I’m a Trail Ambassador. It’s a pretty new volunteer position with the city and right now there are less than 20 Trail Ambassadors, but eventually, our city trails will be graced with lots of them. The city is actively recruiting new folks to help, aligned with generally-known trail etiquette concepts, as described on the website here: http://www.mountainview.gov/depts/cs/parks/trails/default.asp
The training was 2 hours and it was inside the Rengstorff House. There were 4 of us and the other 3 were all new to the Mountain View area. What a great way to get to know the community—by volunteering! Kristina Perino, Senior Recreation Coordinator, who works at Rengstorff House, runs the Trail Ambassador program. Connect with her to get started: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The general duties of a Trail Ambassador are to observe conditions of the trail, monitor user behavior and report anything unusual to Shoreline staff. It’s a really friendly, and helpful role that includes educating trail users if they have questions about the history and ecology of Shoreline area and the Stevens Creek Trail, and generally just sending out good vibes to fellow trail users.
It’s helpful to know (or learn) a bit of history about the Shoreline area if you want to be a Trail Ambassador. There are 230 acres of native grassland in the Shoreline area, 215 acres of native wetland and our golf course is another 200 acres. The land was previously used as a city dump, a hog farm and an auto wrecking company. You would never know that by looking at the area today. It is a peaceful, serene destination, even when there’s a concert happening at nearby Shoreline Amphitheater.
The Trail Ambassadors are supposed to “model appropriate trail behavior and etiquette, provide information and assistance to those who need it,” and do our best to maintain safety of everyone on the trail. Really, just be the eyes and ears of the trail and tell the city what we see and if we notice any specific challenges that could be solved by getting someone more official involved. We’re supposed to observe and report trail use patterns and support future trail management decisions.
Mountain View has almost 10.5 miles of trail, and our small portion connects with our neighboring cites. Eventually all 47 Bay Area cities and 7 local bridges will be joined together by 500 miles of trail. It will be possible to walk all the way around the entire bay in the future. Some cities are faster at completing their portion than others, but that’s the goal.
Trail Ambassadors aren’t emergency responders. They’ve been instructed to call 911 for emergencies, or notify the Supervising Ranger or Shoreline office if anything needs attention.
The Ambassadors are asked to help protect the natural habitat of the area and any wildlife that might also be using the trail. If you want to really get to know the wildlife along our trails, you should connect with Loma Prieta chapter of the Sierra Club or/and Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society. I’ve walked Shoreline park with both of this groups and found it really informative and fun.
It should be pretty easy to spot Trail Ambassadors because we’ve been given blue t-shirts that identify us. Kristina, the program organizer has also asked all of us to log our volunteer hours.
I’m looking forward to the annual Trail Ambassador Appreciation party and it will be fun to meet everyone. Whether you just moved here, or you’ve lived here for many years, being a Trail Ambassador is really nice way to get more involved in our community. I love Mountain View.