In trying to describe this week’s trail, any number of words might come to mind. From it’s beginning on Potrero, it appears to be just a concrete path that disappears between two houses. If you follow it you soon discover steps, but the steps soon become a stairway, or even several flights of stairs, until you reach the top of the first segment at Julian Drive. After you cross Julian and prepare to continue on to Madera Circle the word comes to you. The Julian Steps are steep. Overall, the path is only about 800 feet long, but it rises 170 ft over that length for a grade of 21%. And the first segment of stairs uphill from Julian rises 50 ft in the space of 150 ft, for a grade of 33%. And yet the path is well used. By children! Parents and children use the path everyday to reach Madera Elementary School. Now don’t you feel ashamed for complaining about a few stairs. I know I do.
Another word that comes to mind when thinking about the Julian Steps is connectivity. Besides connecting students and parents with their school, this trail is also central to plans for connecting the northern and southern parts of the Hillside Natural Area. At the top, the trail connects to Madera Circle, which also features an entrance to the Madera Open Space, the Madera to Ridge Trail (#20). At its bottom, on Potrero Dr., it is across the street from the entrance to the northern section via #17, the Motorcycle Hill Trail (careful, there is no crosswalk or light). And halfway up the Potrero to Julian leg there is a connection to another trail that leads into Madera, the Madera-Julian trail (#19). With the acquisition of the Madera Open Space, there will be two new ways to get between the disjunct parts of the Hillside Natural Area. Both begin with last week’s trail, the Ridge Trail (#30), and end with this week’s, the Julian Steps.