Marco Polo Meadow Launch atop Polo Ridge

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Marco Polo Meadow Launch atop Polo Ridge

Postby sd » Sat Mar 09, 2024 7:37 pm

Sunday 3/10/2024 Volunteer Request for a work party to clear a new launch on Polo Ridge.
10 am (PDT) meet time at Padaro Beach Grill parking to carpool in two or 3 vehicles to the trail head.

Note that the time springs forward tonight, so Sunday’s 10 o’clock is equivalent to today’s 9 o’clock.

We want to get a head count, so we know how much tooling to bring. We need a minimum of 4 Volunteers (including myself) to be in the go mode, but 6 or more would be better. I estimate we can accomplish the objective with 6 people in about 2-1/2 hours of on-site work plus transit time. It takes about 20 minutes each way to hike, plus 10 minutes to drive to the trailhead from Padro.

This is primarily a work outing, however, it would be good to have one or 2 pilots test the new launch, but not too many because we will need bodies to carry most the tooling back down. I normally bring snacks and water, but since we need to hike up, I’ll leave it to the individual volunteers to bring their own snacks and water. I’ve got 8 pairs of work gloves. Recommend long sleeves and boots.

The weather is forecasted to be dry, but the uphill trail is wet with some running water and puddles in places. Mid-day temperatures are in lower 60s under thick high clouds.

We will leave a few tools hidden up top, including a tarp, rake, and mattock. I’ve got 4 EGO 5 Amp-Hour batteries, and a couple smaller 2 AH size. Some are older and iffy. The batteries are a bit heavy, about a pound per AH. They can power the brush cutter, hedge trimmer, and chain saws (we need chain saws to clear the existing debri piles). We also have a couple of loppers and as noted above will also lug up a mattock or 2 (depending on our head count, rakes and a tarp (to transport clippings).

Please check in either through the Telegram Polo Ridge Chat Group
or via DM and I’ll add your name to the volunteer list in the message above.

Volunteer List for Sunday Work Party / 10 am PDT at Padaro Beach Grill parking. To clear a new launch on Polo Ridge. See logistics details in message below.
As of Saturday night the following volunteers have indicated participation:
Tom Truax
Wesley Heustess + Jean
Yaroslav Rastrigin
Johannes Schweiger
Zain Axe
Sandra Acres
Carl Cadenasso
Dave Patterson
Patrick Gaylord

3/5/32024 Polo Ridge Proposal and Notice / Telegram

Updated Polo Ridge Google Earth File showing glides to potential LZs
(2.25 KiB) Downloaded 107 times

We are planning to clean up an existing small clearing on Toro Canyon Ridge Trail for a new hike up PG launch. After scouting trips, the proposed location (see KMZ file attached above) was chosen for a number of reasons:

It is not at the highest point on the trail (about 1,132 Ft MSL), but it is still high (about 1,073 Ft MSL), only 60 feet lower than the high point (the Skyport is about 50 feet lower than the Eliminator).

It is the widest, largest, and flattest area high on the ridge line, arguably a more suitable topography for P2s than the higher options which are narrow, steep, and rocky.

It is the easiest place to clear/clean, requiring the least amount of work and effort.

It is also less visible to prying eyes from the high dollar estates to the west.

A negative is the location adds about 150 yards of hiking beyond the high point, and about 400 yards past the 1st potential option (the bench where the trail reaches the ridgeline). So, another 2 to 5 minutes of hiking depending on which other option you compare it to.

The hike from the trailhead (at the high point of Toro Canyon Park Road / about 880 Ft MSL) to the Ridgeline Bench (about 1,110 Ft MSL) takes about 15 minutes, plus another 5 minutes along the ridgeline trail to the mini meadow. The trail is steeper at the bottom but parallels the ridgeline behind (north of) private property estates near the top, so there is a little mild up-and-down higher up on the trail. The elevation gain from the trailhead to the high point is about 350 feet vertical, but with the up-and-down likely closer to 400 feet of uphill hiking.
and or some drone videos and hike overview at:

The Official Name of the Trail is the “Toro Canyon Ridge Trail”, which appears to be part of and maintained by Toro Canyon Park? Our SBSA community has referred to the ridge as “Polo Ridge” for many years, because it is above the polo fields, and the terms canyon and ridge are somewhat contradictory? Not to be confused wtih another tail associated with Toro Canyon Park (Toro Canyon Park Trail) from the picnic area up to a Gazebo.

We haven’t requested permission. The work is minor small brush and weed clearing plus re-locating debris piles (from prior trail construction and maintenance work?). Not cutting any trees. Not worth a bureaucratic taxing tangle? We will consider the aesthetics and environmental impacts.

The site is not intended to be a go-to spot on most days but could be a valued option in various weather scenarios like low cloudbase and or late afternoon SW or prefrontal SE.

Saturday, 3/9/2024 reply to JLo’s questions listed in his telegram post on Tuesday 3/5.
The parking situation is limited. There are only 2 to 4 spots on the side of the road at the trailhead, which can by muddy after a rain. I think we can do some work to improve parking, but that would be a secondary project after we evaluate the value of the site? Since any work on the side of the road would be quite visible, we may want to coordinate with the park admin? Don’t want to open that can of worms until we are somewhat established?

The updated KMZ (posted above) shows glides to various potential LZs. I suspect most pilots will use the beach, but the beach can be a bit of a reach at over 6 to 1, a half point more than the glide from the Skyport to Upper Parma. There are numerous private property fields near the base of the ridge in the 3.5 to 1 range, and landable crop fields just north of the freeway en route toward Padaro, but likely best to avoid private property if possible.

Not certain of the actual ownership, but google searches indicate it is part of Toro Canyon Park, so I suspect the proposed takeoff is owned by the County?

We don’t expect the site to have a lot of usage, much less than sites like Bates, More Mesa, the VOR etc. It is intended to be an option for less mainstream scenarios like low cloudbase and possibly higher altitude ridge soaring with thermals mixed in. We no longer have the Rock, and the Bypass appears to be out of service for a while? Currently our lowest launch is the Skyport? (other than the coastal sites). It isn’t really a mountain site or a beach cliff site, more like the Avenue? It has been flown a bunch but never launched from? So current experience is limited to days that have been good enough to get there from other launches.
Last edited by sd on Sun Mar 24, 2024 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Marco Polo Volunteer Request

Postby sd » Sun Mar 24, 2024 7:52 am

Marco Polo has yielded impressive potential on weak low cloudbase days (not today). Volunteers from a couple Sunday’s ago (3/10) produced a mostly functional result, but ran out of gas leaving a pesky bulging web to the left that has claimed a few gliders because it tends to cross a tad from the west later in the afternoon so pilots who don’t steer a bit to the right on pullup can end up in the bushes. This past Friday, we had 3 pilots in the brush, and one was a lengthy and challenging extraction.

We can clear the problem today (Sunday 3/24) if we have at least 6 volunteers confirm by 10:30 (on the MP telegram chat) for a noon work party? I’ll post at 11 to the Marco Polo Telegram Chat Group with more detail if we are in the go mode, but likely meeting near Padaro Grill because parking is limited at the trailhead.

If you are not already a member of the Marco Polo Telegram Group, you can join at
but won' be able see the messages posted prior to joining.

Volunteer List for Sunday 3/24
Bernardo Fanti
Cort Flinchbaugh
Grauspm Kemp
Alex Teplitxky
Tom Truax
Grayson Kemp
Dave Patterson
Johannes Schweiger
Sandra Acres
Sunday’s (3/24) turnout was better than initially expected with short notice. I was inclined to wait a week or two before more slugging, but being an unflyable day (for PGs due to excessive wind) on a weekend, and the ground still soft from recent rain, logic overruled my lax inclination and I opted to try and raise a crew on short notice.

Initially, there were just a few of us, so we dialed back our scope of work, but soon enough 10 workers hiked up so we were able exceed our primary objective and leave the meadow in a state that should be good to go (until trimming maintenance next year?). If pilots end up in the brush on aborted pull-ups, then they could likely benefit from more ground handling practice?

We did get rained on for a half hour as a shower moved overhead from the mountains with the blustery wind from the NW, not so hard that we had to abort, but the wet ground did result in dialing the washing machine from medium to heavy to deal with extra soiled attire.

Thank you to the 17 volunteers who toiled on 2 Sundays (3/10 and 3/24). 21 workers total, but 4 showed up for both work parties, so 17 individuals. It takes a village.

An interesting side note: 6 of us opted to duck into Padaro Grill after. I was the only one born in the USA, the others were born in Great Britain, France, Germany, (but an Italian), Austria, and Turkey.
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