The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Off-road advocates propose biking trails at River View Natural Area

Posted by on January 13th, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Northwest Trail Alliance proposal for new trails at River View Natural Area.
(Click for larger view)

If everything turns out like the Northwest Trail Alliance hopes, the River View Natural Area in southwest Portland will someday be home to six biking trails and a “skills area” built specifically for off-road riding.

“Implemented correctly, we are confident that this project can serve as a model and can be replicated in other parts of the City and region.”
β€” NW Trail Alliance

Nearly three years after the City of Portland purchased the 146 acre parcel between River View Cemetery and Lewis and Clark College (just south of the Sellwood Bridge), Portland Parks & Recreation is beginning to prepare a concept management plan. That plan will define the ecological resources, trail network, and access points for what is sure to become a popular recreation destination.

NWTA’s proposal includes a range of trails that would serve beginner, intermediate, and advanced riders. They are also proposing a “flow” trail (which is characterized by high-speed banked turns and rolling features) and a bike skills area up near the flatter portion of the parcel adjacent to SW Palatine Hill Road.

On their website, NWTA says River View, “Presents a unique opportunity to provide a range of diverse experiences for mountain bikers in the urban core which is currently lacking, and implement policies outlined in Portland’s Bicycle Master Plan and broader planning goals.” Another NWTA goal with this proposal is to make sure River View aligns with the group’s “Ride to Where You Ride” motto β€” which is a push to create urgency around the idea that Portland residents shouldn’t have to drive to access good mountain biking opportunities.

The NWTA has been actively volunteering to restore and rehabilitate the River View site since 2011 and member Brian Baumann sits on the project’s advisory committee.

Riding and working at Riverview property-6

Bike advocates at a volunteer event at River View
in August 2012.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

In addition to the trail network, NWTA has announced a policy position on how the trails should be managed. Given the nature of the trail designs and the compact layout of the parcel, the NWTA feels, “it may be prudent to separate uses on certain trails.” This means they’ll push for some trails to be open to bicycling only.

In order to show their commitment to this plan, NWTA is offering to build the proposed skills park area and three of the bike trails (numbers 4, 5, and 7) in addition to providing planning assistance, technical resources and trail-building equipment.

“Implemented correctly,” states the NWTA on their website, “we are confident that this project can serve as a model and can be replicated in other parts of the City and region.”

Going public with a detailed trail proposal and identifying their expectations of success for this project is a bold move by the NWTA. Portland Parks has made no promises about the amount of bicycle access they’d like to see on this land. It’s also worth noting that the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services is also a partner on the development of River View because the parcel is home to several creeks that flow into the Willamette River. While, “Designing a trail system that is compatible with protection of the natural resources,” is stated as one of four official goals of the forthcoming management plan, there is sure to be some debate over how bike-specific trails can co-exist with ecological preservation.

Stay tuned.

Learn more at and read our past coverage of this topic.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you β€” Jonathan

  • spencer January 13, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    It MUST be pointed out that a trail does not = run-off, a poorly contructed one may affect drainage. That is why its so important to have a group like NWTA volunteering, planning, constructing, and supervising the construction and end use of these trails. It must be added also that some trails will also be exclusive. This is to minimize user conflict.

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  • jonno January 13, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Are the trails not marked uni-directional going to be bi-directional? Just trying to get a sense of what the climbing situation will be like. Regardless, as a long-term roadie and commuter recently turned on to mountain biking, this looks very exciting!

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  • Brian January 13, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    @ Jonno. According to the proposal, “yes.” The only mtb-specific, uni-directional trail would be #4, though it might make sense to have signage that the flow trail be recommended downward. I like the idea of having a challenging, and interesting, climb trail (in addition to an easier way up) Some of us like to climb, and by that I don’t mean climbing a gravel road. I enjoy climbing roots, rocks, etc.

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    • davemess January 13, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      Amen! Uphill mountain biking!!!!

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    • jonno January 13, 2014 at 1:53 pm

      This is what I was getting at. I’d like to have both an easy climb and a challenging climb route option if possible. A choppy, grade-reversed, across-the-grade trail like the ones at Rocky Point would be cool too instead of just up vs. down. And I would hope the flow trail would be downhill-only.

      And are there actually trails there now such that one can go and explore?

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      • Brian January 13, 2014 at 2:03 pm

        Yep, it is open to bikes. One of the trails up there is the best in the Metro area, in my opinion. It would be #4 on the map above.

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        • davemess January 13, 2014 at 3:28 pm

          I really like the newer section at the bottom, adding the switch backs is great and makes the trail much more sustainable. I know some liked the steep slippery drainage ditch there before, but now it feels more like a real trail.

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      • spencer January 13, 2014 at 3:05 pm

        #4 is open, and an excellent downhill, there are numerous up tracks, the trail just south of # 4 is the best up trail.
        as for Rocky point, ride the North side of the road if you want XC trails

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    • fivefrud January 13, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      oddly enough, the only real climable singletrack at riverview as it is now currently (that goes all the way to the top from the bottom), is where they have trail #4 slated as uni-directional. overall the trail plan looks killer to me.

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      • davemess January 13, 2014 at 3:27 pm

        That’s not necessarily true. There is the steep trail on the Southern end (similar to #1, technically it doesn’t go all the way and you have to jog through L&C), and a couple of options on the North end (both that are better than #4).

        I actually really like calling these trails by numbers! Makes it much easier.

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        • fivefrud January 13, 2014 at 3:30 pm

          Exactly. It only goes about 1/2 the way up to the top.

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  • davemess January 13, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    #6!!!! This one is huge for me, being able to bike on a trail from the Sellwood bridge would be awesome!

    Brian, aren’t most of these trails already there? I’m assuming that some of the current trails will be reworked? And some will be decommissioned?

    Thanks for your hard work!

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  • Brian January 13, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    The Natural Area is being viewed as a “blank slate.” There are some trails there that could be reworked, but all of this remains to be seen as the Public Advisory Committee has yet to see the first trail concept plan. The next PAC meeting, which is open to the public to attend, is set for Jan 24th. The PAC is charged with making recommendations to Parks. Ultimately, Parks will make the final decision.

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    • davemess January 13, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      Now I’m confused, isn’t the above picture the trail concept plan?

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      • Brian January 13, 2014 at 4:57 pm

        It’s the NWTA proposal; what we would like to see happen there. The concept plan is being developed by Virgil Agrimis.

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      • Brian January 15, 2014 at 10:02 am

        Just wanted to check back with you to see if that clarification was helpful.

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        • davemess January 15, 2014 at 12:51 pm

          Yes, thanks!

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  • Jeff January 13, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Oh, man, this would be great. I have long bemoaned not being able to ride to trailheads in Portland. This would really “green up” the local MTB scene. No excuses to put your bike on top of your car anymore!

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    • TJ January 13, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Local trails are rad and certainly appreciated, but zero shame in loading your bike and your friends’ bikes on the Wagon Queen Family Truckster and enjoying the front and back countries the PAC NW is blessed with. Mountain biking is more than thrills. It is also seasonal foliage, wild and scenic rivers, beers with a view, camping, friends, etc. My truck takes me to some pretty radical places. Places that inspire me to protect the beauty that looms from a distance daily. I have a lot of excuses, but I hear ya πŸ˜‰

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      • davemess January 13, 2014 at 5:34 pm

        I think most of us just want to be able to make that choice. It’s pretty one sided right now.

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  • Granpa January 13, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    I see that trails are situated to avoid watercourses. Those would be the most sensitive areas and keeping bikes out of creeks demonstrates good stewardship. Lets see where this goes.

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    • Psyfalcon January 13, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      Bridges are fun though. You need the money to construct one large enough to avoid the most sensitive slopes of course.

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  • Fred January 13, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    I’m hopefull that this plan can go forward. This area is a great resource for recreation and enjoyment of nature in the city. Nice work Brian!

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  • Aaron January 13, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    It would be so nice if this happened. Come on Portland Parks, throw us a bone.

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  • John January 14, 2014 at 8:36 am

    I have been riding that forest since the mid 1990’s. So many secret “illegal” skills areas (some with some pretty damn hairy jumps) have come and gone. Its about time there is some legitimate trails to hoon on. However I do not miss the deep ruts and Indiana-Jones style cob webs of the old trails….

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  • Brian January 14, 2014 at 8:41 am

    One small clarification, Brian Baumann is the NWTA rep for the Riverview PAC and not the Executive Director for NWTA.

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  • Debbie January 14, 2014 at 9:58 am

    I’ve always been wishing that we’d have something similar to how Seatlle has Duthie Hill πŸ™‚ Sometimes we don’t have 4-5 hrs in a a day – to drive an hour plus away to ride and drive another hour plus back.

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  • matt January 14, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Why so many fall line trails? Can’t we get some good bench cut that follows the contours better? i see they’re avoiding drainage areas, but we all know a well constructed trail can easily traverse drainages with little to no impact. If they try to say that’s fish habitat I’ll eat my shorts…

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    • Brian January 14, 2014 at 10:49 am

      Good point, Matt. The lines are very rough drafts, and some contour would hopefully be built into the final plan. Another issue is having trails intersect in such a small place. This is an issue that can be overcome, but just something to think about. Thanks.

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    • davemess January 14, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      There is at least one of these types of trails there now.

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    • Paul Souders January 14, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      I’m not terribly skilled and all these trails are within my abilities in dry weather. (In the winter: less so…). I think fall-line trails make the best use of a small area.

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      • davemess January 14, 2014 at 10:08 pm

        But they shorten the ride, and it’s tough to make a true beginners trail using them. Also tough to make an easier uphill trail.

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  • John B. January 14, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    MTB trails are long overdue in this city and it’s great to see NWTA involvement at Riverview. This is a great option for my two boys, ages 7 and 5, as well as their parents, to enjoy some two-wheeled activity away from traffic. We are just one of many families who will enjoy seeing this built and reap the benefits of safe and fun physical activity. We can’t wait to volunteer to help out!

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    • Paul Souders January 14, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      I have the same feeling. This is almost literally out my back door and will be great for my kids when they’re a little older. Ride to the ride!

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  • Tori B January 14, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    This is such a great opportunity for the city and the state to secure their platinum status with the League of American Bicyclists (which is currently at risk due to a lack of off-road opportunities in Portland). I dream of a day I can ride to a nearby trail and spend hours playing in the dirt– without having to drive! Not to mention the experts at the Northwest Tail Alliance have so much science and practical knowledge behind them that I’m confident this project would be managed in a way to keep Riverview’s beautiful and diverse ecosystem by designing sustainable trails and continuing user education to keep this gem thriving.

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  • Jill January 14, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    This trail is practically in my backyard, and I love having a way to get a quick ride in before having to do “honey do’s” I agree there should be more pedal friendly climbing opportunities (I walk a lot of it.) Keep me posted on work parties. I would love to see this develop.

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    • Brian January 14, 2014 at 2:09 pm

      Hi Jill,
      One way to stay “in the know” is to sign up for the Northwest Trail Alliance e-newsletter. It is full of great info. You can sign up on the front page at:

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  • Emily January 14, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    What a great opportunity for individuals and families to enjoy a part of Portland’s parks on two wheels! I work and live in the SW Portland and would be so excited to be able to bike in an area close to work. It could also be seen as a bike “commuter path” for folks traveling from SE Portland to Lewis and Clark College or SW businesses.

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  • Whitekitten January 14, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    As a hiker who lives in Portland, I enjoy access to over 152 miles of trails within city limits. There are 70 miles of trails open to hikers in Forest Park alone. In contrast, offroad cyclists have access to only a few miles of singletrack trails in town, and a pitiful .3 miles of singletrack trails in Forest Park.

    Portland is proud to be world renown for its bike friendly nature, however it strangely does not seem to welcome the idea of singletrack cycling in nature. Offroad cyclists want the same thing as hikers do: to enjoy a blissful and calorie burning activity amidst a gorgeous, sustainable and heathy forest. Hikers prefer walking on a narrow trail instead of a wide gravel road for the same reasons why offroad cyclists prefer to ride a narrow singletrack trail over, say, Lief Erickson “trail”.

    A primary concern that I share with many of my urban hiking friends is trail user conflict. When I am hiking and trail running, I do not have to want to worry about having to avoid cyclists or cyclists having to avoid me. Conflict is mitigated with user specific trails. Hikers have nearly 150 miles of trail in town to call their own. If I’m in the Riverview area, I have 8 miles of hiker-only trails in Tryon Creek Park, which is located only a half mile to the south. Let’s not forget Marquam Park about a mile to the north and Oaks Bottom Park a half mile to the east, all of which have trails open exclusively for hikers. Can cyclists get a few miles of bicycle specific trails in Riverview? It doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

    Offroad cyclists are massively underserved and rapidly growing demographic, PP&R knows it, and it needs to do something about it. Now PP&R has the opportunity to give Portland offroad cyclists a chance to prove themselves.

    Bicycle friendly urban singletrack is not a radical idea. Many, many cities have outstanding success stories that we can learn from. Let’s give offroad cyclists at least a few more miles to enjoy their activities with their families and friends. Enough with the NIMBYism and anti-offroad cycling fear mongering. Let’s give offroad cyclists a chance.

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    • Eric January 17, 2014 at 7:26 pm

      Thank you for your supportive comment. Remember, when multi use trails are shared properly, bikers yield to and get out of the way of hikers. Teaching proper etiquette is key.

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  • Jaime Reed January 14, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I for one can’t wait to get out there with some fellow NWTA ladies and do some trail work! It’ll also be great for metro-area riders to have more trail riding areas within riding distance.

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  • Stacy January 14, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Single track in the metro area?! Am I dreaming?? If so don’t wake me! Great opportunity for the Portland area.

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  • Nate spencer January 14, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Only look towards our fellow North Americans up north in Canada to appreciate what a benifit increasing availability of outdoor activities are for societal improvement. They have the worlds best facilities and we all travel there to do what we love, spend money happily, stay healthy, and engage in life. Is this even debatable?

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  • charlie January 15, 2014 at 8:34 am

    This is a fantastic proposal and is certainly very promising! I think there has been a continuous lack of Mountain bike trails within the city limits and this is the beginning of something great. My hopes that of course all beginner and intermediate needs of cyclists are met most importantly, but I would love to see some kind of opportunity for advanced riders here as well. Props to Brian, Charlie, and company for all their hard work on this project.

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  • David January 15, 2014 at 11:59 am

    I think this is an excellent opportunity for NWTA to prove how a sustainable beginner/intermediate MTb trail system within the city limits can be built and managed with competence and integrity. It will be great to access a trail system by bike and not have to drive anywhere to go mtbing. Hopefully down the road a more advanced trail can be proposed and built. For the passionate advanced skilled riders. It is these riders who are the most passionate about mtbing and will have the knowledge, expertise and willingness to manage the entire trail system. I applaud all those involved with this endeavor and it has been a long time coming. Once an advanced trail is built then it will also give the opportunity for beginners/kids to progress their skills and become more proficient mtbers. Let’s hope this proposal passes and we can get started creating a excellent new opportunity for two wheel recreation within the city limits!

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  • Jon January 15, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    What a great opportunity for all local outdoor enthusiasts. I really appreciate the possibility of trails 3, 4 and skill area 7. Well signed, unidirectional, mountain bike-specific trails are the best way to reduce user conflict and keep everyone happy. I enjoy hiking and riding, but I strongly prefer bike specific trails for any sort of higher speed riding while shared use trails on the beginner & climbing trails are a great way to introduce mountain biking to hikers without the risk of high speed interactions.

    The possibility of sanctioned intermediate/advanced trails within the city limits would be a HUGE improvement to the local under served off-road cycling community. This opportunity would bring in a whole group of volunteer labor that doesn’t show up to the gravel sidewalk type trail work days, but is willing to drive an hour to help build advanced trails outside Portland city limits.

    Being able to ride to a trail like Sandy Ridge’s Two Turntables with features like tabletops (safe for beginners, fun for advanced riders) would really accelerate everyone’s skill progression, but particularly for children and those without access to other forms of transportation who can’t get to areas like Sandy Ridge. Many users don’t currently have any opportunity to ride this kind of skill improving trail without someone to drive them. The advanced trails are a critical aspect of this proposal, as that is currently the least served of the off-road cycling demographic and I’m thrilled by the possibility of this being included in the proposal.

    Keep up the great work NWTA!

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  • DK January 15, 2014 at 2:37 pm


    It is nice to see the work NWTA has put into our community finally has the potential to realize some tangible returns.

    Attn Local Politicians: We, the voting, tax-paying public, would like you to “Fast Track” these efforts. Let’s make wasted time a thing of the past and embrace our singletrack loving brethren with the community love and singletrack facilities they deserve. Your influence and actions toward this end are appreciated and will be remembered during the course of your next campaign.

    Let’s partner and win-win this thing!


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  • davemess January 15, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    The advanced trails are a critical aspect of this proposal, as that is currently the least served of the off-road cycling demographic and I’m thrilled by the possibility of this being included in the proposal.
    Keep up the great work NWTA!
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    I agree that it is important to have advanced trails, but have question this quote. The vast majority of purpose built trails in the general Portland area (Sandy, Black Rock, etc.) have been focused on All Mountain/DH riding. Even the trails that currently and previously existed at this very site were for the most part advanced trails. I don’t think we need to fight amongst each other, but I”m just confused as to where you think there are abundant XC trails around Portland.

    I have to say that this proposal is great (combined with other currently planned around the city). We seem to be hitting a lot of town with Powell Butte, Gateway Green, and this proposal. One quadrant seems to still be lack, which one could it be and where could we build mountain bike trails there???????

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    • Brian January 16, 2014 at 6:37 am

      I can’t speak for Jon, but I have ridden all of the trails within the Portland area and I would consider them all “beginner” from a technical standpoint. They may involve some climbing that is beyond beginner category, but they lack anything technical. When I started riding here 15+ years ago, and was new to mountain biking, there were a couple of challenging elements at Powell Butte that I loved (and feared). I thought about them when I wasn’t riding, and they kept me excited to ride there. I had to work up the courage and skills to be able to ride them, and in doing so I became a steward of the trails there. I started to attend work parties, and then those challenging sections were removed and sanitized. I could say the exact same thing for the trail we used to ride at Oaks Bottom.
      There simply is zero challenge in Portland once one’s skills have progressed beyond Beginner, except some sections within Riverview that may not exist in the future. This is why I, personally, feel it is critical to include (and hopefully improve and increase) intermediate/advanced trails at Riverview.

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    • DK January 16, 2014 at 7:17 am

      With all due respect…Sandy Ridge nor BlackRock should draw comparison as they require a car ride to get to the trailhead.

      Let’s limit the comparisons to areas available to ride within the metro area, for an apples to apples look at the situation.

      Portland is blessed with great topology to accommodate all types of riding. Trails built for ALL skill levels are needed and there’s plenty of suitable space to make that happen, given community and political will.

      So let’s just keep at it and make this thing happen. Advanced trails for me, please, but would also like beginner trails to take my girl and kids…

      Let’s do this


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      • davemess January 17, 2014 at 1:05 pm

        You would classify all the trails at Riverview (past and present) as beginner (except for a few sections)? Even dry I would say most of them are intermediate at best. Add some mud and they all are tougher (if only for the slope angle alone).

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      • davemess January 17, 2014 at 1:10 pm

        DK, I will make myself a little more clear, in that I think ALL types of mountain biking are least served in Portland (Sadly, I only included Sandy and Black Rock as really those ARE the only purpuse built trails around, and they’ve been geared towards gravity riding (This certainly proves that we need more trails period)). I guess I was just commenting on the fact that most of the people who I’ve met in town who classify themselves at “mountain bikers” have been DH or All Mountain focused. The main shop in town that MTBers will recommend is FatTireFarm, which definitely seems to sway towards DH and All Mountain.
        In my experience in town the last 4 years, people think mountain biking and they think of gravity riding (which is different from where I used to live in CO).

        Again though, I don’t want to fight amongst are selves. Just found it odd that Jon (whether on purpose or not) made it sound like other types of mountain bikers were much better served.

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  • Eric January 17, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Please build a well graded up trail. Can’t wait to run laps in this zone. Super excited.

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  • Bryan January 17, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Living in the woodstock area, this is just a short bike ride to get to for some good dirt riding in Portland. i have ridden the trails there and they could use some TLC from good trailbuilders which NWTA has lots of. add in some volunteers and there is a recipe for a positive step forward for mountain bike single track in Portland…Stoked! well done Brian. so impressed with you and the rest of the hard working NWTA crew.

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  • Joe R January 20, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Just say the word… I’d love to get NWTA’s Single Track ST240 and Ditch Witch SK755 on the ground at Riverview to build some trail!

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  • Jon February 19, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    I don’t think I did, nor was I trying to say that any genre of natural surface mountain bike user has copious trails within Portland city limits. I think all MTB users are currently under served. I personally have worked on all sorts of trails and I will continue to do so. The NWTA Riverview proposal includes trails for all, I think this is great and I’ll gladly work on any of them.

    That said, I stand by my previous statement that “advanced trails are a critical aspect of this proposal, as that is currently the least served of the off-road cycling demographic”. Forest Park, Powell Butte and Mt. Tabor are all official XC trail options within the city limits while there are ZERO official AM or DH trails in Portland.

    The reasons areas like Sandy, Blackrock and Cold Creek get so much attention and use is that they provide interest and challenge beyond anything available within the city. Enough interest that people will drive for an hour to get there and even pay for the privilege (cold creek, DNR pass). Bike technology, bike sales and riding styles are all trending towards AM/Trail type of bikes and Portlanders need somewhere that they can ride to where they ride these types of bikes to their potential.

    Hopefully Fat Tire Farm, Bike Gallery, River City, Universal Cycles and the 60 or so other bike shops in Portland can continue to increase their sales if kids without cars have somewhere to use their new 5″ AM/Trail bike.

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