Quick Take:

The local mountain biking advocacy group has rebranded with a wider focus on trail maintenance for bikers and hikers alike. But expanding trail access for mountain bikers is still a top priority.

Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz is changing its name — but it isn’t having a change of heart.

As of Tuesday, the organization has a new name: the Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Stewardship — a rebrand meant to expand the organization’s focus beyond serving only cyclists, though organizers say mountain bikers will remain a top priority.

“This is a major milestone for trail development in the Santa Cruz Mountains area,” SCMTS Executive Director Matt De Young said in a prepared announcement. “This rebrand is an important first step in realizing the trail future we all want to see locally.”

Since 1997, the not-for-profit has been a political force, social group, and educational resource for local and visiting mountain bikers. Staffers have also developed a robust trail stewardship program, often hired by local parks agencies to improve trails and ensure sustainable maintenance.

“As Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz, we were perceived as a special interest group by local decision makers, which limited the scope of our work tremendously. Under the new SCMTS name, we’ll address trail systems holistically to make great trails more accessible for all uses — mountain biking, hiking, equestrian, and more,” De Young said.

With the rebrand comes changes to educational curriculum to make trail maintenance classes more appealing to non-cyclists, in addition to more volunteer events geared toward first-timers who might be intimidated by Santa Cruz’s tight-knit mountain biking community.

“A big part of this name change is addressing the interests, concerns, and motivations of other trail users,” says SCMTS marketing and communications manager Katy Poniatowski. “But most of all, this change reflects what we already do.”

In October 2020, SCMTS partnered with several local and national biking gear companies to host the Out of the Ashes fundraiser, through which they raised $180,000 to spend on trail repair within the CZU-lightning complex burn scar. That work is slated to begin this month, and is part of a handful of upcoming multi-use trail stewardship projects SCMTS lists on its new website for the coming year.

Although their focus is expanding to include non-cyclist trail users, Poniatowski says they will not be de-escalating any of their mountain biking activities or advocacy.

“Mountain bikers are still the most underrepresented recreational group on the trails,” she notes. “Only 35 of the more than 200 miles of trails in Santa Cruz are legally open to mountain biking — we intend to keep working to expand that number.”