A portion of the Stevens Creek Trail has been temporarily closed after recent storms caused severe bank erosion along Stevens Creek, creating unsafe conditions along the heavily-used trail.
The strong wind and rain caused a large portion of the bank to slough off along the trail side of Stevens Creek last week, leaving only a few feet between the edge of the trail and a steep drop to the roiling waters below. The unsafe conditions prompted city officials to close off a section of the trail spanning from Yuba Drive to just north of the El Camino Real underpass. A detour has been set up to guide trail users onto Yuba Drive and westbound El Camino Real as an alternate route to get around the closure.
This is the first time inclement weather has forced a trail closure along Stevens Creek, said Bruce Hurlburt, the city's parks and open space manager. There is no estimate for when the trail will be reopened to the public.
Engineers from the Santa Clara Valley Water District began inspecting the creek with an eye toward potential repairs on Wednesday. Devin Mody, the district's watersheds operation and maintenance manager, told the Voice that creek repairs can take anywhere from one day to months, and have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The conditions along Stevens Creek, particularly the wet weather and higher water flows, are likely to slow the process down.
Quick fixes typically include adding riprap or boulders to provide resistance along the eroded bank, Mody said, while more significant repairs involve shoring work and "sheet piles" to retain the soil and prevent further erosion.
Hurlburt said the closure is not in an ideal location, and that there aren't a lot of good options for a detour. One option included blocking the trail south of El Camino Real and guiding trail users along eastbound El Camino Real, crossing the busy Grant Road and Highway 237 intersection, but the existing detour appeared to be the safer of the two options.
The hope, Hurlburt said, is that the water district staff soon will be able to give the city an estimate on when the trail can be safely reopened.
"I'm really hopeful that their engineers will be able to shed some light on what we're looking at, because right now it's just not safe and we can't have people out in that area," he said.
According to the National Weather Service, starting Wednesday and, with periods of respite, running through Monday, three weather systems will dump from between 1 inch and 3 inches of rain throughout the Bay Area, with the heaviest downpours expected in the North Bay, according to forecaster Steve Anderson. On Sunday, another round of wet weather is expected to arrive and will taper off Monday afternoon, leading to mostly clear weather into the rest of next week.
Information on the status of the city's trails is available at www.mountainview.gov/trails.