Exit light, enter night, if you will -- but don't go entering into James Hetfield's sprawling Marin County property.
The Metallica singer and rhythm guitarist erected a metal fence on his ranch that blocked off a popular trail connecting two nature preserves. So Marin County is now working on a three-mile trail to get around the fence and allow hikers to travel between the areas -- at a startling cost of $650,000.
The story begins in 2008, when Hetfield built the fence to keep out hikers whom he said were damaging his property. The fence blocked off the Luiz Ranch Fire Trail, sparking a controversy, naturally, because hikers could no longer travel between the Terra Linda-Sleepy Hollow Divide and the Loma Alta Open Space preserves.
The only solution was to build another trail around the Hetfield land. And with all the needed environmental reviews, trail design, and state-required reports, the new route didn't come cheap. Most of the $650,000 cost will be put up by Marin County, with help from a $56,000 grant from the North Bay Conservation Corps.
When finished -- likely by September -- the new path will be known as the 680 Trail, so named because it takes hikers to more than 680 feet above sea level. "When it's done it will be beautiful," Chris Bramham, superintendent of the Marin Open Space District, told the Marin Independent Journal. "The views from here are fantastic."
Bramham also says that county officials aren't upset with Hetfield, even though it was his fence that required the trail be built. He's allowed construction crews use of his private road to access the work site, and even paid for road improvements. "We have no problems with him," Bramham told the IJ. And on second thought, Hetfield's generosity seems only proper for the man who penned "Wherever I May Roam."