Dragoon trail plan milestone

Christina O'Haver, The Union Democrat

Sonora took another step toward growing the popular Dragoon Gulch hiking area Thursday.

The City of Sonora Parks, Recreation and Beautification Committee recommended the City Council adopt a plan, at its Feb. 19 meeting, adding 5.5 miles to the 2.5 mile trail. The plan would provide more diverse trails, summit access and at least one additional entrance.

David Campbell, a landscape architect with Stockton-based consulting firm Siegfried Engineering, discussed the plan Thursday.

Campbell said it was developed after the public weighed in on four blueprints.

"This is a happy medium in terms of density," he said. "We get a significant trail experience but we're not ... covering all of the land."

If adopted, the project team will take the plan out into thefield and use GPS technology to ensure it is possible with the typography.

A master plan will then be drafted, presented to city staff and brought before the council.

City officials estimate about 100 people use the trail every day, not including school athletic groups that use it for training.

Siegfried Engineering ranked the most popular activities on the trail based on feedback from the first community meeting. Hiking topped the list, followed by walking, casual biking, jogging and experiencing nature.

Because the community uses the Dragoon Gulch area for a variety of activities, they requested a greater variety of trails.

The plan includes shortcuts, an undulating track for bicyclists and runners and trails for people with limited mobility.

Planners determined a west entrance along Leland Drive isn't yet feasible because it is blocked by private property. A trailhead to the north, along Racetrack Road, is possible.

The plan enables pedestrians to cross from northern Sonora, through Dragoon Gulch, to Sonora High School and downtown.

A picnic area, restrooms and drinking fountains are also possibilities.

The project is partially funded by a federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act grant. The Tuolumne County Public Health Department received a $237,000 "Obamacare" grant for projects intended to promote healthy lifestyles and smoking cessation.

Sonora received $50,000 through a subrecipient agreement with the Tuolumne County Transportation Council to develop the plans.

The money is only earmarked for planning and engineering purposes and is intended to make the city more competitive when seeking construction funding.

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The Union Democrat
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