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

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.”
— 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 — 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.

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.

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