Saturday, October 27, 2018

Named for mountain biker Dan Olmstead: The Olmstead Loop Trail

Olmstead Loop Trail near the Northside Elementary School
The Olmstead Loop Trail west of the unincorporated community of Cool near Auburn in California was named for Dan Olmstead (1937-1993) in 1993. Before 1993, this multi-use trail was formerly known as the Knickerbocker Trail, since it loops through the Knickerbocker Area and crosses Knickerbocker Creek. This area is part of the Auburn State Recreation Area (ASRA) [1-3].

Olmstead Loop Trail and other ASRA trails open to hikers, equestrians, bicyclists and dog walkers

As a business owner and an outdoor enthusiast, Dan Olmstead envisioned trails as tracks of recreational diversity including hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking within natural landscapes such as the lovely Sierra foothills. The informational kiosk in the parking lot behind Cool's fire station summarizes the life and honors the activities of Olmstead as follows (October 2018):

Dan Olmstead had an avid love and respect for the outdoors. Dan with his wife, Mickey, and son, Andy, owned and operated the Auburn Bike & Hike Shop. As mountain biking became popular throughout the Auburn State Recreation Area, he combined his love of nature with his dream of creating harmony on the trails between hikers, equestrians and the emerging sport of mountain biking.

He participated in a horse pack trip so he could better understand trail use from the equestrian's perspective. He helped to organize work parties to improve trails inviting all groups to participate. He passed away from cancer the day before the first Cool Mountain Bike Race - a race that continues in popularity over 20 years after his death. The race takes place on the Olmstead Loop, the Knickerbocker Area trail, named in his honor.

The 24th Cool Mountain Bike Race took place on the Olmstead Loop in March 2017 [3].

Mile 0 at fire station trailhead
The popular nine-mile Olmstead Loop is open year-round. In his book 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Sacramento, Jordan Summers writes:

The Olmstead Loop Trail is a favorite among mountain bikers for good reason. The trail is named in memory of Dan Olmstead, a local bike-shop owner who promoted the creation of multiuse trails and stressed courtesy among trail users.

According to the “Yield To” signs you will encounter along the trail, mountain bikers should yield to both equestrians and hikers, while the latter are supposed to yield to equestrians. Horses have the right of way—or right of gallop.

Yield Tosign at Cave Valley gate near Northside School

Keywords: history, biographical sketch, recreational activity, cycling, mountain biking, trail courtesy, trail etiquette.

References and more to explore

[1] Olmstead Loop Trail, description and trail map: [accessed Oct. 27, 2018].
[2] Jordan Summers: 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Sacramento. Menasha Ridge Press, Birmingham, AL, 2008.; Hike 34, pp. 182-186.
[3] Michael Kirby: On a roll. Cool Mountain Bike Race draws nearly 150 competitors in its 24th year. Auburn Journal, Monday Mar 20, 2017.

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