Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail

Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic
Trail Network (Coastal Rail Trail)


The Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network (Trail Network) is a 50-mile bicycle and pedestrian pathway along the coast of Santa Cruz County, from the San Mateo County line in the north to the Monterey County line at Pajaro. The Trail Network merges plans for a bicycle/pedestrian trail along the rail line – including coastal alignments and neighborhood spurs – into a connected network that will overlap and converge to provide safe and convenient route choices.

The Trail Networks system’s “spine” will be the Coastal Rail Trail, a bicycle and pedestrian trail within the 32-mile Santa Cruz Branch Rail right-of-way, adjacent to the train tracks. The Coastal Rail Trail will serve transportation, recreation and interpretive uses for walkers, joggers, bicyclists, people with mobility impairments, and families. The rail right of way passes within 1 mile of half of the County’s population and will provide access to 44 schools and 92 parks (see map). The Coastal Rail Trail will coexist with existing and potential future train service and abide by conditions set forth as part of the rail purchase.

MBSST Fact Sheet

Status of Current Coastal Rail Trail Projects

Segment 5 – North Coast

The RTC completed the Environmental Impact Report in 2019. Central Federal Lands is scheduled to complete the federal environmental document in 2020, with final design expected in 2021. Pre-construction activities will be complete in Spring 2021 and the project is scheduled to go to construction in 2022 pending funding availability.

Segment 7 – City of Santa Cruz

Phase I is under construction and expected to be completed in late summer 2020. Phase II is environmentally cleared and design is complete. Once funding and a minor section of right-of-way is acquired, Phase II can go to construction.

Segment 8 & 9 – City of Santa Cruz & County of Santa Cruz

The City expects to complete the environmental, design, and right-of-way work by 2022. Construction is dependent on acquiring additional funding. The multi-use path cantilevered off the San Lorenzo River Railroad Trestle was completed in 2019.

Segment 10 & 11 – County of Santa Cruz

The project, with the exception of the Capitola trestle, is in the environmental phase, which is expected to be completed in 2020 to early 2021. The final design phase is expected to begin in fall 2021 to late 2022. The project is expected to go to construction in 2024 pending funding availability.

Segment 12 – RTC

This project is being completed as part of the Highway 1 (State Park Drive to Freedom Boulevard) Auxiliary Lanes and Bus-on-Shoulder project. The environmental phase of this project is expected to begin in 2020 and be completed in 2021. The design phase is expected to begin in 2021. The project is expected to go to construction in 2024 pending availability of funding.

Segment 18 – City of Watsonville

The environmental phase was completed in 2015. Phase I is under construction and expected to be open in fall 2020. Phase II is in the final design phase, which is expected to be completed in 2021. Phase II is expected to go to construction in 2021, depending on approval of CPUC crossing agreements and securing remaining funds needed to fully fund construction.


In NovemMeasure D logober 2016, Santa Cruz County voters approved Measure D – which commits 17% of revenue from the sales tax for trail construction, maintenance and management. Congressman Sam Farr is one of the project’s most passionate champions and secured millions of federal dollars to kickoff construction of this two-county path while he was in Congress. In 2013, the RTC selected specific sections of the trail to receive $5.3 million in federal and state funds.

Funding partnerships with the California Coastal ConservancyLand Trust of Santa Cruz County and Friends of the Rail and Trail will enable the RTC to leverage state and federal grants.

Final Master Plan

RTC Staff and Members of the Public at a meeting

The award winning Final Master Plan establishes the continuous alignment for the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network, including the Coastal Rail Trail spine, and associated spur trails. The Final Master Plan identifies planning issues associated with the trail’s construction and presents design, implementation, long-term operation and maintenance, policies, and options.

The Master Plan was adopted November 7, 2013 with a revision adopted February 6, 2014, after a 3-year-long public and stakeholder engagement process.

Final Environmental Document

A Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was certified on November 7, 2013 and an addendum was considered on February 6, 2014.

 overview map of rail line


The broad vision is for a Trail Network project that will span the coast of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary from the San Mateo/Santa Cruz County line to Pacific Grove, in Monterey County. The RTC is leading the planning effort for project development in Santa Cruz County and the Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) is responsible for Monterey County projects. This approach will ensure that the planned bicycle/pedestrian network will provide connectivity throughout the county and into the Monterey Bay region, and serve as the California Coastal Trail in Santa Cruz County.


  • Rails-with-Trails – examples from other communities and resources

    sample cross section of rail ROW improvements

    Click to enlarge photo

RTC Contact

Grace Blakeslee
Senior Transportation Planner