Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

US Forest Service approves permit for Timberline MTB Park

Posted by on November 26th, 2012 at 9:25 am

A major new mountain bike park on Mt. Hood is all set to move forward. The United States Forest Service (USFS) has just approved the permit for the Timberline Mountain Bike Park, concluding that the plans are in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and that as proposed would have “no significant impact.”

The new mountain bike park was proposed back in 2010 by RLK & Company, the same company behind the Timberline Lodge Ski Area. To create the new park, RLK has already hired the same consulting firm that developed the world famous Whistler Mountain Bike Park in British Columbia.

As the plans have gone through the environmental assessment process, advocates for and against the idea have worked hard to influence the outcome of this decision. The USFS says they have received nearly 1,200 comments on the project so far. Some say the park would hurt Mt. Hood’s natural areas and ecology, while others say this is a chance to improve recreational opportunities while doing more to care for the land at the same time.

“I believe that mountain biking at Timberline represents yet another new opportunity for play in every season of the year.”
— Christopher Worth, Mt. Hood Forest Supervisor

Environmental advocacy groups, led by BARK in Oregon, are likely to file an appeal.

In his decision dated November 19th, Mt. Hood Forest Supervisor Christopher Worth stated that the plans for a mountain bike park would, “have neither a significant beneficial or adverse impact because the area affected by the bike park and restoration projects is a very small percentage of comparable acres at that elevation on Mt. Hood.” He also pointed out that a mountain bike park is consistent with the Mt. Hood Forest Plan, which calls for, “areas of high quality… recreation opportunities” which include, “hiking, mountain bicycling, and horseback riding.”

Here’s the proposed trail map:

Furthermore, Worth referenced a quote from former president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who dedicated the Lodge in 1937 and made it clear that the area was intended for, “the enjoyment of new opportunities for play in every season of the year.”

“Roosevelt made clear that Timberline would be valued for active recreational use occurring throughout the four seasons,” Worth wrote. “I believe that mountain biking at Timberline represents yet another new opportunity for play in every season of the year.”

This decision is sure to be lauded by mountain biking advocates who worked hard to turn out support for the project. Last we reported, construction would begin as early as this summer. There’s still a chance this decision could be appealed, so we’ll keep you posted on any changes or developments.

For background on this project, visit the official Forest Service project website or check RLK’s commercial site.

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  • Jim Lee November 26, 2012 at 9:30 am

    FDR lives!

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    • Chris I November 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      I would love to see someone photoshop FDR onto a MTB ripping down a steep grade…

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  • gl. November 26, 2012 at 9:43 am


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  • MadKnowledge November 26, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Great news for downhill enthusiasts and good use of an already impacted area. Still waiting for no-car-necessary cross-country and stunt trails in Forest Park…

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    • q`Tzal November 26, 2012 at 9:59 am

      Needs lift service. I recommend the swath of land already cleared for the high voltage power lines. Perhaps the same lines would be a convenient collocated supply of power.
      If a lift ran 24/7 it would open up a more convenient bicycle commuting path for those that currently ride around Forest Park.

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      • Tony Pereira (@pereiracycles) November 26, 2012 at 10:31 am

        You’re joking, right? Please say yes.

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        • q`Tzal November 26, 2012 at 2:39 pm

          Some cyclists are racers.
          Some cyclists are commuters.
          Some cyclists are triathletes.
          Some cyclists are merely cruising.

          Please restrain your disdain (publicly) of those if us in the cycling community who don’t view every ride on a bike as an opportunity to push the limits of the human machine.

          The simple fact of the matter is that looking at ANY map you can see that all non-recreational roads, which should easily be more than 99.999% of all roads worldwide, follow easy routes through the least steep and challenging terrain.

          If there was a more direct and safe route through/over Forest Park in the Germantown Road area it would greatly facilitate east-weather bicycle traffic in the St Johns Bridge area.

          As for joking: I’m certain we can both find things we find reprehensible about each others lifestyles. It doesn’t need to go any further than that.

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          • Case November 26, 2012 at 2:51 pm

            Wow, really? You suggested putting in a continuously operating chairlift through Forest Park for the benefit of bike commuters and this is what you come back with when someone expresses surprise? And then you suggest you can find reprehensible aspects to their lifestyle. I have seen some interesting posts from you on this blog, but this one takes the cake.

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            • q`Tzal November 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm

              What I perceived was a facet of the attitude that is the hatred some have for e-bikes and any mode of transport that conforms to anything less than the Spartan ideal of physical training before all else.
              Perhaps I was wrong; but the sneering derogatory tone taken by some cyclists towards others who chose not to do as they do is insulting to all who have neither the time, money nor inclination to aspire to be paragons of physical virtue. And it is real.
              But I apologize for maybe reading too much in to his reply.

              Besides, a chair lift is excessively ugly and uses up too much room(and likely energy).
              I’d prefer an on demand solution like the Trampe bicycle lift because it is far less visually obtrusive and likely better on all other counts as well.

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              • Matt F November 26, 2012 at 4:38 pm

                geez…a bit defensive, ain’t we?

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              • Scott November 26, 2012 at 5:04 pm

                Do you know that Tony Pereira has designed multiple award winning e-bikes? I don’t think he is going to be the guy giving the attitude you perceive.

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              • q`Tzal November 26, 2012 at 6:09 pm

                Yes, I’ve demonstrated my world class foot-in-mouth disease.

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              • matt November 26, 2012 at 7:22 pm

                If you have an E-bike, why do you need more help getting up the hill? Cant you just twist that throttle and go?

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              • Tony Pereira (@pereiracycles) November 27, 2012 at 9:35 am

                First: I own an e-bike
                Second: The mountain bike community has been trying for years to get the Forest Park powers-that-be to share some of the 60 miles of singletrack for bicycling with almost no success. You propose putting a “lift” through forest park. I express surprise given the context. You are offended. I suggest you step back a bit. Need assistance getting over the hill? Take the MAX.
                And for the record, I am no paragon of fitness.

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              • q`Tzal November 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm

                Yeah, this would be a great place for me to apologize for being a social moron.
                Sorry, “my bad”.

                I think my original point was that there are already places in Forest Park that are denuded of natural charm and environmental benefit (like the big ugly swaths of clear cut land that the high voltage lines cut through) in which some sort of lift would be a negligible intrusion upon the natural environment and which would be a welcome shortcut for those of us that want the easy way out.

                At my last job I could make comparable time going over Saltzman compared to biking to the MAX from PGE park to Beaverton TC. But only if there are no problems. When there are MAX train problems TriMet doesn’t let you know until you’ve: boarded, passed any reasonable bus connections and, for fun, stuck in a tunnel.
                That last job was a stickler on attendance and timeliness so being dependent upon Russian roulette light rail was a problem to be solved.

                Given TriMet’s inability to admit they have problems and my slow grind up Saltzman anything cheap that would get me up that hill faster seems like a good idea to me.

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  • Frank Selker November 26, 2012 at 9:58 am

    It’s great news for MTB’ers and for rationality.

    I just hope that rationality eventually makes it to Portland.

    To date Nick Fish’s actions still suggest he represents Forest Park Neighbors and the City Club, rather than Portlanders as a whole. For example, Fish appointed to his Parks Budget Committee the City Club fellow who oppposed opening cycling trails and said “cyclists have too much clout in city hall.” It is a subtle but real form of discrimination to effectively limit park use by those who don’t happen to live in the fancy neighborhoods next to it.

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  • Jim Lee November 26, 2012 at 9:58 am


    It costs $500 a year to ride at Whistler; the place is highly commercialized.

    Area operators, Mount Hood Meadows for example, charge people to ski on its nordic trails, even though they do not use the lifts and the trails are on public land.

    Following this model, one would expect MTB at Timberline will not be free.

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    • davemess November 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      I imagine it would be same as other lift-served areas, You pay for a lift ticket. You can ride the trails for free if you want to climb up the service road (this is also the same for skiing at the resorts: You want to skin up you can ski down for free).

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    • Chris I November 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm

      Trails don’t build themselves.

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      • davemess November 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm

        True, but the small percentage of people who will actually bike up a service road at a lift-served area, is almost negligible. Won’t make much of a dent into the bottom line of a bike park.
        (The times I would do it, the park either wasn’t open, or I was there for a cross country race).

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  • Seth Daniels November 26, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Why would anyone expect this service to be free? I am in complete support of this effort.

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  • Tony Pereira (@pereiracycles) November 26, 2012 at 10:33 am

    This is great news! If you don’t understand the business model, check out the Whistler web site. This will be a great addition to the area and a nice boost to the bike industry in the greater area.

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  • Burk November 26, 2012 at 10:58 am

    YES! If this is anything like the trails up at Whistler then go ahead and TAKE my money!

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  • Bjorn November 26, 2012 at 11:00 am

    The Sierra club and BARK seem committed to eliminating Mountain Biking from Oregon and Washington public lands, I think there is little chance that this won’t be appealed unfortunately.

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    • rwl1776 November 26, 2012 at 1:10 pm

      Don’t forget OregonWild! THEY were the ones that pushed Earl Blumenauer to unleash the Mt Hood Legacy Act in 2004, the one that eliminated over 55% of the singletrack that HAD been open to MTBers for 20 years. We lost access to ride 120 miles of the 210 we all had the ability to ride AND maintain. Watch out for the well greased lobby machine of OregonWild!

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  • shetha November 26, 2012 at 11:39 am

    If you’re a cheapskate can you just ride the roads up instead of the lifts? If not, it’s tempting to cut my drive in half and go to Sandy Ridge, again.

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    • MadKnowledge November 26, 2012 at 1:24 pm

      Sandy Ridge and the Timberline park will offer two very different experiences in general. There aren’t really any roads to ride to the top of the lifts at T-line.

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  • gl. November 26, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    this is great news. when will there be a bike friendly bus or transportation option for bicycles without cars?

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  • Ron November 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm


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    • matt November 26, 2012 at 7:24 pm


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  • Michael/ Chicago, IL. November 26, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Just recieved word from my son whom works for the DNR, this may be happening. Each and every day I pray that the DNR,and what we call the Forest Preserves Districts in Il. can all work together to provide a place where all can enjoy more of Mother Nature. Give me another reason to head west to visit the kid!

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  • q`Tzal November 26, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Downhilling sounds like it would be fun here.
    What happens when your tire hits one of those slugs that is as big as a large banana? I don’t know if they are called “banana slugs” but their size and coloration like rotting bananas named them for me.

    I’ve seen lots of these seasonally ascending Saltzman Rd and they seem well camouflaged. It occurs to me that they might be hazardous to a downhiller’s life.

    Or are they just disgustingly large slugs?

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    • q`Tzal November 26, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      This was supposed to be a reply to MadKnowledge about Forest Park.

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    • Charley November 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      I’ve accidentally run over those slugs on bike before- it just sticks to your wheel. No danger.

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  • Ryno Dan November 26, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Niche sport for dedicated gas burners with $4000 toys. This “sport” has little to do with cycling. Give the mountain a break. This facility should be at Ski Bowl. I look forward to the appeal.

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    • ao November 26, 2012 at 2:55 pm

      you could pedal up west leg road or pedal up the tline to town trail

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    • Bjorn November 26, 2012 at 3:12 pm

      Why would we want to expand cycling at an area owned by a guy who hits cyclists with his car while drunk and leaves them to die in the street.

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    • Frank Selker November 26, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      Your are right about gas burning, just like nearly every other regional pass time, from fishing to skiing to camping and hiking. It’s an excellent reason we should put trails in Forest Park for bikes.

      By the way, I don’t hold the cost of sporting toys nor whether it is or isn’t “cycling” against anyone and their chosen way to enjoy themselves.

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  • Nate November 26, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    To each their own I guess…
    One of my biggest (only?) beefs about biking in Oregon is the deep lack of quality mountain biking. I understand there are a handful of these “parks” around, but very little in the way of quality singletrack for us cross-country folk.

    Coming from Flagstaff where nearly every trail was accessible to mountain bikes – with no issues I ever heard of – it is tough for me to understand the animosity exhibited toward bikers. That horses are allowed on many trails where bikes are banned is ever stranger; the pockmarks caused by horses, not to mention piles of steaming dung, ruin trails for everyone BUT the equestrians.

    As someone else mentioned, biking should be the equivalent to x-c skiing – free to anyone with a bike and the legs/lungs to get up the hill. We are a capitalist society I suppose, so since my activity of choice doesn’t make anyone any money, it doesn’t have the same support.

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    • Bjorn November 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm

      Seriously why can’t we mandate horse diapers. I don’t care how you want to enjoy the trail as long as you don’t take a dump in the middle of it.


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    • Matt F November 26, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      agree 1000%

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    • davemess November 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm

      I’ve felt the same way since moving here from CO. It’s a manufactured problem that OR (specifically Portland) continues to perpetuate.

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      • nrs127 November 27, 2012 at 4:37 pm

        Same here. And I lived and rode in GA for 10 years before OR. Even GA has more access to singletrack and less anomosity towards mtbs… Crazy.

        This is great news. I’m generally for pedalling cross country style, but in this case I’ll give the gravity a go!

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    • KTW November 26, 2012 at 8:38 pm

      No XC riding? I’m betting you haven’t been looking very hard

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  • jered November 26, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Why would we want to expand cycling at an area owned by a guy who hits cyclists with his car while drunk and leaves them to die in the street.
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    That was the the skibowl owenr I believe that hit the cyclist.

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    • Bjorn November 26, 2012 at 9:29 pm

      I was specifically responding to Ryno Dan’s comment that the facility should be built at ski bowl. You are correct that Ski Bowl owner Kirk Hanna is the one who hit a cyclist and drove off, later buying his way out of jail time. I have not been back to Ski Bowl since, the year before I had a season pass.

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  • Barney November 26, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    This is all good news. MTB riders are among the most responsible public land users out there! They will ride and maintain what they use, usually asking for nothing but access. Once a sustainable trail is in place, erosion issues disappear and off trail use vanishes as demonstrated so often throughout Arizona, California, Idaho and Utah!

    Most of the haters cannot accept the good stewardship displayed in a well managed MTB park because it runs counter to their arguments.

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  • Ryno Dan November 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Why do you refer to those who oppose this idea as “haters” ?
    Since this will be a fee-park, there will be absolutely no volunteer maintenance (if the park materializes). This is not an instance of “responsible land use”.

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  • Jim Lee November 26, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Here is a bit of backstory of recreational developments on Mount Hood.

    A guy named Bill Bates was a family friend back in the 1950s. Also he was in charge of recreation policy for Region 6 of the Forest Service at that time.

    Timberline Lodge had been exploited and neglected since its building in 1937, so Bill worked hard to find competent and responsible management. Dick Kohnstamm came forward, and his family, doing-business as RLK, to this day operates, develops, and cares for our beloved building and surrounding developments. It is very hard to fault them in any way.

    Bill also saw to development of Mount Hood Meadows, insisting upon unprecedented environmental considerations in designing and building ski runs, to the point of requiring much construction of lifts by helicopter, so minimizing use of heavy equipment that would degrade the fragile alpine and sub-alpine ecosystems. Revolutionary in that time, but standard practice today.

    Bill Bates was an extraordinarily dedicated and competent Federal Civil Servant. He was an outdoorsman in the old sense: camper; fisherman; hunter. Also a superb photographer of nature–and my mother, sisters, and I at Christmas 1952. Myrta, his spouse, was the most fantastic cook. He got me summer jobs in the Forest Service that paid for college.

    So I ask, “Does RLK’s proposal pass the ‘Bill Bates’ test?”

    Bill was not an alpine skier, but–look at all those runs and lifts on Mount Hood! I am not a mountain biker, but can see competent and responsible development for legitimate public recreation in the proposal.

    So, yeah, I am pretty sure Bill would approve.

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  • Brian November 27, 2012 at 8:42 am

    As a cyclist who rides up trails, down trails, over roads, etc I couldn’t be happier that this is happening. I look forward to taking my dollars up to Mt. Hood frequently for many years to come, and my three year old will be right beside me. As a teacher working in one of the worst funded public education systems in the country, I am happy about the revenue (including tourist) this will generate. I hope that more and more areas of our state embrace what Oakridge and Bend has done, and replace lost logging dollars with recreation dollars.

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  • Tony Pereira (@pereiracycles) November 27, 2012 at 9:38 am

    If you’re a cheapskate can you just ride the roads up instead of the lifts? If not, it’s tempting to cut my drive in half and go to Sandy Ridge, again.
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    It’s likely that any bike suitable for riding up to the top of these trails will not be suitable for riding down them.

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    • shetha November 27, 2012 at 10:22 am

      Got it. I guess me and my hairdtail will stay away, then. Can’t afford a new bike AND a lift ticket. Not yet, anyway… y’all have fun 🙂

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    • Gabriel Amadeus November 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      Oh come on Tony, that sounds like a challenge!

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    • davemess November 28, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      Have you been on green trails at lift-served bike parks, they’re usually pretty smooth, flowy with awesome berms. I’ve ridden a few parks on my Cross Country rig and had tons of fun. A DH-specific bike is not required.

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