El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve is a mountain biker's playground. All of the preserve's 36 miles of trails are open to cyclists, and it is one of the most popular mountain biking destinations in the San Francisco area. Trails include wide access roads, fast singletrack, and exposed, rocky tooth shakers. Cut into a forested hillside, the preserve's elevation changes make for gear-grinding ascents and fast descents, while the variety of trail choices let mountain bikers choose where on the thrill scale they want to ride. The preserve has many interweaving trails in a fairly compact space, allowing for seemingly infinite permutations but also requiring careful navigation. The preserve is managed by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, which provides an excellent map available for free download.
The preserve is shared with hikers and equestrians, so all users need to be aware and considerate of each other to ensure safety and enjoyment for everyone. Mountain biking tends to rule the day here, but it is certainly not an exclusive use.
The 2,817-acre preserve was created in 1988 on land with a history of redwood logging. The vegetation is typical of second-growth preserves in the Santa Cruz Mountains, with mixed evergreen and redwood forests. The riparian habitat is lush and generally dense, but exposed ridges and outcroppings provide nice views of the Pacific Ocean. Unique sandstone formations can also be found, most notably on the aptly named Tafoni Trail. The Resolution Trail winds through a ravine that is the 1953 crash site of a DC-6 aircraft of the same name. A small monument to those who perished is situated at the beginning of the trail, near an overlook point with a picnic table and views over the ravine and beyond to the ocean.