The All People’s Trail: A Path for All to Tread
Photos by Luke George Photography
Before construction began on the All People’s Trail, the design team took a walk through Patwino Worrtla Kodoi Dihi Open Space Park in the company of many imagined feet, canes, wheelchairs, walkers, and strollers. They were walking through land preserved for everyone; they were designing a path for all to tread.
The path needed to circulate visitors through a route that displays the scope and grandeur of the property, which is located north of Fairfield’s popular Rockville Hills Regional Park. The attractions here run small and large: tiny California buttercups stand before sweeping views of Suisun Valley and the Vaca mountains; mighty oaks host dainty Acorn woodpeckers in their branches.
Barth Campbell, John Anderson, and Hilary Dustin collaborated on a design based upon insights from an All-Access Advisory Committee made up of individuals who could speak from their experience on the need for inclusive infrastructure. Suisun City Councilmember Wanda Williams served on the committee. Before her two sons passed away from muscular dystrophy, they had loved spending time in the outdoors together.
“I am thankful for all the work done to save spaces for all,” Wanda says.
“And even more so for the commitment and dedication to make sure that there is disability inclusion, so that anyone of any ability can enjoy these spaces.”
To serve its purpose, the All People’s Trail must be a destination as well as a route. Some people might begin a long hike from it, and others may only travel a fraction of it before resting at a bench. In the course of a human life, a returning visitor will find different hikes appropriate as their needs and abilities change; this trail was made to reflect and embrace that reality.
Once the path was mapped, it led quickly to other questions.
Is the oak at the switchback for gazing at or sitting under? Should the picnic tables face fields where kids can play or wide-opened vistas? Where is the best place for blind visitors to sit and smell the wildflowers and hear the birdsong? How can summertime visitors take in the sunlight without the sizzle?
And once these decisions are settled, how will the work look in a decade?
An accessible path is only accessible if it endures, so surfacing is key. The path is composed of Park Tread, an ADA-approved permeable surfacing material. A proprietary creation of Barth Campbell’s, Park Tread is sourced from virgin quarry excavations and uses a plant-based binding agent. The hills this path traces slope gently, but Park Tread handles steeper grades than asphalt, as a job at the Zen Center in Muir Woods required. The material resists erosion and has a high albedo—meaning that it reflects sunlight while keeping the air near the surface cool.
“All other surfaces crack or contract in summer or winter,” says Barth. His material passed the snow test in Yosemite National Park. Even sheeting rains won’t wash it out. The tread requires less maintenance than other materials. On an intentionally wide path, consistent surfacing makes a great difference for wheelchairs, unsteady gaits, and people with limited vision.
To provide visitors a safe and comfortable experience, the All People’s Path is off limits to bicyclists and horses, who will use marked bypasses to connect to the twelve miles of newly upgraded trails that snake through the park and into the greater Bay Area Ridge Trail. It will also be closed to the cattle who graze the park.
The All-People’s Trail is part of a systemic effort to bring the park into the future and prepare for a full opening to the public.
A private individual’s $500,000 donation funds a portion of this trail and upgrades to paths throughout the property. A generous 1.25-million-dollar grant from the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation is funding the staging area, trail construction, road rehabilitation, and interpretive signage. A Coastal Conservancy grant funds future staging area amenities, including restrooms with solar-powered lights, entry sign, and pay stations. The next installations likely to appear on the All People’s Trail include 2’x8’ palapa-style shade structures and picnic tables with ride-up access for wheelchairs.
These improvements will make a path worthy of this unique, spectacular space and of the people of Solano County—especially those yet to experience the delights of the park.
This park, whose name means “Southern Rock Home of the Patwin people,” was named by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation to honor the first people who called these lands home. It has been protected so that all people may experience the wonderment of the outdoors, wherever they are on life’s path.
The Solano Land Trust anticipates a full opening of the park by the end of 2022. Until then, look for free guided visits and activities at solanolandtrust.org/events. Regular events include mountain bike rides (first Saturday of each month), nature hikes (second Saturday), and trail crew workdays (final Saturday of each month). Visit the site for details.