Hike one of Mar Vista’s Nature Trails
Author: Colleen Bagley Haskin
Hiking is a great activity. You can do it anywhere. But why would you want to, when you can do it here, in Mar Vista?!
My motivation to begin creating new trails at Mar Vista was driven by a personal need to enjoy one of the best outdoor activities in Costa Rica. I needed a good hike, safe away from vehicle traffic, where we and the dogs could get our daily exercise close to nature. These trails take full advantage of the beautiful surroundings we have at Mar Vista with jungle, forest, rivers, ocean views, and the wildlife that inhabits our area. For decades I have preferred walking as my first choice for exercise: you can do it just about anywhere, you just need good shoes.
In my twenties I hiked K2 in the Himalayas, the second highest mountain in the world, as part of a team setting up sleepover shelters for hikers in cooperation with the Nepalese government. In my late thirties I backpacked solo through much of western Europe. My husband Bill and I traversed segments of the Milford Trek in New Zealand’s South Island. And together we climbed Ayers Rock in the Red Center of Australia. I have always found a place to go walking whether I lived in a city or the countryside.
These trails are a labor of love
Getting the Trails project started in Mar Vista was easy. The developer was happy that someone would take on the project as a volunteer. Walking trails are a desirable amenity for a community but no one had ever really focused on the possibilities at Mar Vista. With the varied terrain and abundant natural surroundings, there are excellent opportunities to build a trail system here that appeals to all ages and fitness levels.
We have renovated and upgraded two existing trails and added four new trails, for a total of six trails so far, with a total estimated distance of approximately 8 kilometers. This includes five trails inside Mar Vista and a loop in adjacent developer-owned acreage. We began the project on October 31, 2020, with Aaron the builder, two Nicaraguans with machetes, and me.
Since then the team has been mostly just Tonio and myself but Tonio’s brother Winder recently joined the crew full-time which has helped us pick up the pace. My goal is to connect all the communities in Mar Vista with hike-able off-road pathways that offer enough variety so everyone can enjoy outdoor activities in Costa Rica .
Mar Vista offers trails for every skill level
I devised a trail marking system using colors. Blue and Red are the original two shortest trails, now improved, and the easiest and flattest. Green is my favorite and the first all-new trail, it connects from in front of the Miramar gate to the northeast corner of Dos Rios and has 11 river crossings. It is currently is about a kilometer and a half long, and will be about a kilometer longer when we finish adding a new loop higher up the mountain slope.
Black Diamond is currently the longest trail inside Mar Vista and by far the most difficult of all the trails, designed for experienced hikers only. Black Diamond has two waterfall crossings, steep mountain climbs and ravine drops, and views of the ocean. It starts near the Monte Vista entrance, ascends to the top of the mountain ridge on Mar Vista’s east side, and continues to the northeast corner of Dos Rios, at the Green Trail start/finish. Orange Trail is a fun cardio kick straight up the mountain from the Monte Vista entrance to La Jolla East. And Yellow Trail is a rocky loop that starts at the gate on the north side of Miramar mountain and circles outside of Mar Vista and back for a 4+ mile hike.
Mapping the trails has begun but will take a while to complete. And not all the trails are yet formally marked with color-identified posts, as it’s an ongoing evolving project, and a Labor of Love with limited personnel.
With numerous river crossings, we are adding more foot bridges to guarantee trail accessibility in the rainiest months. Waterfalls that are dry much of the year can turn into raging gully washers and we will be installing some cable rails on Black Diamond for greater safety. The safety cable project will take some time as all the gravel, cement and even the water has to be hauled up the steep trail in buckets on the backs of the workers, so your patience is appreciated.
Thank you to our amazing team!
Our trail blazing team of brothers, Tonio and Winder, were sent off on a much-deserved two week vacation in Nicaragua in July with brand new hiking shoes, new socks, and a few hundred bucks to help them enjoy their trip and time visiting family. All that was needed to raise several hundred dollars was to put out a request to help some of our own, and the Mar Vista community responded generously. I love seeing the pride Tonio expresses in the work he and his brother Winder are doing. Tonio and Winder frequently check with me for direction and we often walk the trails together, deciding where a path should lead, whether to add a bridge or steps, where improvements or changes are needed, and brainstorm ideas for new trails.
Mar Vista has trails for one of the most amazing outdoor activities in Costa Rica…Hiking
One of my greatest pleasures is seeing the number of Mar Vista residents who enjoy the trails: we see all ages, a variety of fitness levels, and a surprising number of walkers out and about. And the wildlife is a major attraction. We often observe howler monkey families, coatis, occasional deer, squirrels, a tamandua (anteater), a rare snake, and we recently encountered a family of white-faced capuchin monkeys on the Green Trail.
Walking paths offer an affordable, sustainable, and truly “green” exercise option. Nature trails shine a spotlight on the beauty that surrounds us, and help get people off their seats and outside enjoying the fresh air and sunshine we are blessed with here in Mar Vista.
See you on the Trails!