Runners, pedestrians, hikers and bicyclists are gearing up for the “Niles Canyon Stroll and Roll” on Sunday, Sept. 22, for which a scenic stretch of Niles Canyon Rd. between Sunol and Fremont will be closed to automobiles to give outdoor lovers exclusive access to the canyon.

The event is being held for the third time in four years to raise awareness about a proposed new trail through the canyon that would expand public access to its forested borders, historic landmarks and sweeping vistas of Alameda Creek.

To make way for the Stroll and Roll, automobiles will be barred from a stretch of Niles Canyon Rd. from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. During the first hour – from 7 to 8 a.m. – the road will be open to bicyclists only to give cyclists a chance to traverse the winding thoroughfare unimpeded by others.

Participants in the event also will have the chance to discuss proposals for a Niles Canyon trail with staff from Alameda County and the East Bay Regional Park District. A project study completed in 2017 suggested that a 10-foot-wide paved pathway running mostly along the north side of Niles Canyon Rd. would be the preferred way to enhance access to the canyon for pedestrians, bicyclists and possibly equestrians. Alameda County Supervisors Scott Haggerty and Richard Valle have been leaders in the push for a Niles Canyon recreation trail.

Proposals for a public trail through Niles Canyon are driven by the canyon’s breathtaking scenery, which is accessible only via Niles Canyon Road, a winding two-lane portion of State Highway 84. Bicyclists have repeatedly called for a trail due to safety concerns related to sharing the narrow roadway (which has no shoulder space in some sections) with automobiles. Recreation enthusiasts point out that hiking access to the canyon is limited, and that a trail would provide a vital link between trail networks in the Tri-Valley and Alameda County’s bay-front corridor.

An in-depth environmental review of the trail proposal is now being planned, with the study expected to begin early next year.

Organizers of this year’s Stroll and Roll said they are preparing for as many as 10,000 people to participate. There will be free parking for participants. On the Sunol side, parking will be provided in the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission lot at 11600 Pleasanton Sunol Rd. On the Fremont side, parking will be provided at the Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area, 2100 Isherwood Way, Fremont.

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