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Placer to explore options for expanding Hidden Falls Regional Park, adding parking

August 09, 2016

Options for expanding the well-loved Hidden Falls Regional Park west of Auburn will be explored under a new agreement approved today by the Placer County Board of Supervisors.

The board approved a $233,622 agreement with AECOM Technical Services to conduct an environmental review for a possible expansion of the park, and approved a budget revision in the amount of $250,000 to fund the necessary technical studies, public outreach and environmental documentation.

Thanks to a partnership with the Placer Land Trust, 2,500 acres of open space near the 1,200 acre Hidden Falls Park has been preserved and can accommodate a potential expansion of the trail system from Hidden Falls to the Bear River. This would result in a trail system approximately 60 miles in length, providing hikers, cyclists and equestrians alike with access to more than double the current multi-use trails. The proposed expansion would require two new bridges over Coon Creek and additional parking and staging areas.

Next steps for the potential Hidden Falls expansion will be public outreach and environmental review. Before any physical expansion of the existing trail system is undertaken, the review will analyze existing use patterns and the current parking situation. These evaluations will result in long-term management strategies that improve the current user experience and define future opportunities. Any changes would undergo a thorough public review and comment process.

“The potential for an additional 30 miles of trail to Hidden Falls is an exciting opportunity,” said District 3 Supervisor Jim Holmes. “Our community’s participation with this project is key to its overall success."

County staff also provided board members with an update on ongoing plans to help address increased parking demand.

Since opening in 2013, Hidden Falls has skyrocketed in popularity, with the parking lot often filling to capacity during peak times and visitors being turned away.

The board approved parking restrictions in April to limit congestion on roads approaching the park, a concern of neighboring residents.

Meanwhile, in an effort to help prevent would-be visitors from being turned away, county staff are taking steps to inform the public about parking conditions so people can plan ahead.

A Hidden Falls Park Twitter account was recently established to provide parking updates and other important notices such as trail closures due to weather.

County staff are also in the process of updating an online reservation system, which will give the county the ability to allow access to the park during peak times to people with a valid reservation.

Staff is also exploring the possibility with a consulting team of installing a webcam in the parking lot, offering a live feed of the current parking situation to help visitors make a decision on when to go.

A new configuration is being considered at the park entrance to help move the flow of traffic in one direction to improve circulation and visibility.

For more information about Hidden Falls and other county parks, visit the County website at Placer Parks.

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