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Staying safe in the dirt

Hollister Hills SVRA offers safety clinics for park users

Frank Vest, of Santa Clara, crests a tabletop jump at Hollister Hills SVRA April 25. Vest is a longtime volunteer at the park, and dirt bike hobbyist who always advises safety as a top priority. Photo: Michael Moore

As springtime warms up and the long summer months approach, Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area will be welcoming a growing crowd of dirt bike and all terrain vehicle enthusiasts—with an emphasis on safety. 

From May 14-21, volunteers, staff and other experts will offer the “How to Eat Dirt Safely” guest speaker series at the local park, which is located south of Hollister off Cienega Road. The series features a number of clinics that promote and encourage safety for all park users—including dirt bikers, horseback riders, hikers and cyclists. 

All events are free, and the park’s day use fee is $5. Events include:

– Dirt bike safety clinic at Lodge Campground: 10-11am May 14. Guest speaker Mike Ruhstorfer, owner of Mike-Off Road & Moto Safety School, will offer safety advice on a variety of topics, including motorcycle maintenance, equipment checklists when planning a trail ride, trail etiquette and conservation. The clinic will take place at the park store, located in the Lodge Campground in the park’s Lower Ranch, says a press release from Hollister Hills. 

– Equestrian Safety Clinic at Mudstone Ranch: 10-11am May 15. Guest speaker Beverly Vanderweide from the Henry W. Coe State Park Volunteer Mounted Patrol will teach how to prepare for a horseback trail ride on a multi-use trail, best riding seasons for a horse trail ride, rules and guidelines for equestrians and what riders should bring to care for their horse and keep their animal safe on the trail. The clinic will also offer more information about the California State Parks mounted horse patrol program. 

– 4×4 safety clinic at the Upper Ranch Obstacle Course: 1-2pm May 15: Learn how to prepare for a 4×4 family outing with knowledge about what kind of safety equipment to store in your off-road vehicle, basic trail safety, trail etiquette and conservation. Each participant in this clinic will receive a free spill kit, says the press release. 

Check in at the main park entrance, located at 7800 Cienega Road, to pay the day use fee and receive a gate code for entrance to the park’s Upper Ranch. 

– Hiking safety at Mudstone Ranch: 10-11am May 21: Features hiking safety tips and tricks on a one-mile guided walk, the press release says. Clinic is suitable for those who are new to hiking, want to get comfortable solo hiking or curious about what gear to bring on a hike—and for seasoned hikers who just want to join a group of like-minded people. 

– Mountain biking safety clinic at Mudstone Ranch: 1-2pm May 21. Guest speaker Brian Lucas, owner of Off the Chain, will address mountain biking safety and sharing multi-use trails, according to the press release. Tips on normal bicycle maintenance, different kinds of puncture repair and first aid kits and other items to bring along for a safe and fun ride will be included. 

Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area’s main entrance is located at 7800 Cienega Road.

Hollister Hills SVRA is a popular dirt bike and off-road vehicle destination for hobbyists from all over the Central Coast. The park features more than 6,800 acres and nearly 200 miles of trails, says the California State Parks website

The park also offers a network of designated hiking, bicycling and equestrian trails—as well as campgrounds.