IT’S SATURDAY, SUNNY AND 75 DEGREES. THE FOREST IS A vibrant green and recent rains have made the loamy, redwood soil nothing short of magical. A seemingly endless conga line of riders labors up a dirt road. Before embarking on their descent, nearly every one of them stops to admire a fresh mural painted on a set of trailside water tanks. Displayed across these tanks are the four stages of a monarch’s metamorphosis; from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to a stunning, 6-foot butterfly.

This once-underground trail network in Santa Cruz, California, is in the midst of its own transformation. But unlike the monarch, the future of these trails is uncertain. As COVID-19 persists and the bike boom continues to gain momentum, more riders than ever are discovering the joys of riding singletrack, leaving communities like this one struggling to maintain the balance

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