Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Dec 19th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Shuttle Smith Adventures

news2New bus service caters to bicyclists at Nisene Marks
With the Nov. 2 vote on Proposition 21, The State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act right around the corner, tree huggers throughout California are doing their part to protect the future of Mother Nature.

After working in construction for 29 years, 53-year-old Santa Cruz local Dave Smith recently decided to renew his connection with Nisene Marks State Park. The adventure enthusiast created a part-time job for himself that would allow him to ride his mountain bike five times a week.

On June 5, Shuttle Smith Adventures was born. The daily bus service, driven by Smith, takes nine people and their mountain bikes to the top of Demonstration Forest in Nisene Marks where a 15-mile descent awaits them.

“I’m opening it up to people who don’t have five hours to ride up and back down,” says Smith, who has only biked up to Demonstration Forest three times in his 26 years of living here. “Up there is timber land and they’ve got jumps, single tracks, a fire road, creeks—everything a mountain biker could want.”

Whether customers are interested in a hike, a laid-back pedal or a screaming ride down the 2,500-foot incline, for $15, Smith eliminates the need to waste gas money on the curvy mountain road or waste energy attempting to traverse the terrain uphill.

“I’m a fan,” says Aptos mountain biker Kurt Jensen, who has ridden the shuttle with his friends three times since it opened. “It definitely brings something new to the area that hasn’t been available before.”

The shuttle service may be testament to a recent wave of adventure tourism in this country, but it’s also part of a last-ditch effort to bring more people into state parks.

Since a $14 million cut from the state last year, state parks have had to limit hours, close their gates, neglect maintenance, take down bridges, close bathrooms, cut off access to popular trails that have become unreachable with overgrowth and reduce the number of park rangers and beach lifeguards.

While local agencies are attempting to recover the costs through signature collecting and fundraising, organizations like Friends of Santa Cruz County State Parks hope that Proposition 21 will finally bring some financial stability to the ailing parks.

If Proposition 21 is passed, a fee of $18, tacked on to each California vehicle’s annual registration, will supply the state parks with the funding they need to escape their financial woes. In exchange, each vehicle with California license plates will have day use and parking fees waived. Since it usually costs $10 to $15 to be admitted to local state parks, two trips each year would more than cover these costs, and, as a result, approximately $500 million a year will be made available to state parks.

“Our state parks are chronically underfunded,” says Bonny Hawley, Executive Director for Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. “The more people who visit and pay the day-use fee, such as at Nisene Marks (which is currently $8), the better the parks are able to deliver valuable services.”

With some influence from Third District Supervisor Neal Coonerty, the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to support the proposition on March 16.

“I’m supporting it 150 percent,” says Assemblymember Bill Monning. “It’s essential to the parks and the local economy as it will create a permanent trust fund that will allow the parks to catch up on their capital.”

According to Monning, giving people the opportunity to experience everything the state parks have to offer, like Smith is doing with his business, is the first step.

In Nisene Marks alone, there are 10,000 acres of rugged semi-wilderness, rising from sea level to steep coastal mountains of more than 2,600 feet. Visitors can still find evidence of logging operations, mill sites and trestles within the park, which was donated to the state in 1963 by Salinas’ Marks children and was the epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

With more than 30 miles of trails in Nisene Marks for hikers, joggers and mountain bikers of all levels to enjoy, and an entrance right off Soquel Drive in Aptos, it’s a wonder why more people don’t take advantage of the recreational opportunities in our own backyard.

“Part of sustaining parks is making sure people have access and can derive what the parks are there for,” says Monning. “The more people visit, the more they tell their friends and relatives.”

Smith currently manages about seven shuttle trips per week, bringing an average of 25 people to the top of Nisene Marks, but he hopes that number will increase. In an effort to reach out to tourists, Shuttle Smith Adventures offers pick-up/drop-off airport service, custom routes and assistance with bike repairs and rental.

But for Smith, his business is not just about opening up new opportunities for the mountain biking community. It’s also about reminding everyone of the importance of preserving California’s state parks.

“They’re the jewel of California,” he says.


Shuttle Smith Adventures meets in front of Epicenter Cycling shop at Aptos Station, 8035 Soquel Drive. For more information, call 234-3383 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Comments (2)Add Comment
mountain bikes
written by tony2flats, March 06, 2014
Hating bikes is ignorant.Bikes don't ruin or destroy trails.We KEEP trails broken in at a far greater distance than most hikers hike.If you are hiking outback out of cell range and hurt yourself,wouldnt you rather be found by a biker who can get down the mountain in 20mn instead of hours?
preserving California’s state parks by
written by Al H, June 26, 2011
Shuttles like this are taking bikers to areas that are off limits to bikes this is NOT preserving California’s state parks on the contrary, these shuttle are encouraging bikers to break laws at preserving our parks.

The Sierra Club sued the park because of bike access about 5yrs ago. Its been very quite since the lawsuit was settled out of court.

As a hiker to Niesen Marks I have notice more bikers ride hiking trails only. Eventhough Shuttle Smith does not tell bikers to ride illegal trails, one is left to wonder why someone would ride boring down hill fire roads.

THese shuttle services are NOT preserving the parks.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire