Metallica 1, Hikers 0

James Hetfield blocks hiker access in Northern California

Sad but true: Metallica frontman and champion growler James Hetfield has incurred the wrath of something worse than Dave Mustaine, Napster, or Metallica's own notorious internal feuds — Bay Area hikers and cyclists. Hetfield erected a ten-foot-tall metal and barbwire-topped fence blocking access to a popular public-use fire trail that runs through his property near San Rafael in Marin County, California.

Hetfield purchased the land back in 1999 with plans to build a ginormous home and recording studio, but so far only the studio has been built. While hikers and bikers have enjoyed access to the trail for decades, Hetfield recently put up the fence to combat vandalism. Contractors working for Hetfield say a previous gate, signs, and other structures near the trail have been damaged.

"It is private property," (David) Warner, who does construction work for the rocker, told the Marin Independent Journal."There was some damage done by certain people. If people were cool, this would not be an issue."

Marin County Parks and Open Space reps hope to resolve the dispute and urge Hetfield to reopen access, but that could be tough, as some trail lovers have decidedly not been "cool." The fence has already been vandalized: Unknown taggers blemished the barrier with "SHAME DISGRACE" spray-painted in large letters.

But perhaps we've got it wrong: Maybe the words were left by ardent fans suggesting a new song title, hoping to break Metallica's 5-year dry spell.

Only time will tell if the hikers shall remain unforgiven. Here's hoping Hetfield eventually discounts the bad apples and upholds justice for all, so that hikers can go wherever they may roam. [raises lighter]

— Ted Alvarez

Heavy Metal Rocker Fences Out Marin Hikers (