Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Advocates line up to support singletrack in Metro parcels north of Forest Park

Posted by on November 16th, 2015 at 3:13 pm


Detail of Metro trail proposal shown back in May.

If all goes according to their plans, Metro could build about a dozen miles of new biking trails in the North Tualatin Mountains Natural Area, a 1,300 acre section of hills just north of Forest Park. The agency will unveil their recommendation for where trails should be built and who should be allowed to use them at a meeting tomorrow night (11/17).

If the trails in this plan get built, they will represent the most comprehensive network of singletrack (made for cycling) in the history of Portland.

Metro used a voter-approved levy to purchase four parcels off NW McNamee and Skyline Roads and has spent the last year in a planning process to decide how to manage public access. The stakes are high because the new trails will be built a mere 12 miles from north Portland — far closer than any other similar riding opportunities in the region. The land is currently undeveloped with only rudimentary dirt roads running through it.

Back in May we reported that Metro had proposed, for the first time ever, a plan that included off-road singletrack trails built specifically for cycling (what they called “bike-optimized”). This came after Metro heard loud and clear at a meeting last December that many Portlanders are tired of driving 45-60 minutes just to enjoy quality mountain biking.

Not surprisingly, off-road cycling advocates are lining up to support the plan and build the trails.

Andy Jansky with the Northwest Trail Alliance has seen the plans and told us this morning that, “This is going to be a place to go for a ride, get out in nature and get some exercise.” He added that, unlike the miniscule amounts of singletrack in Forest Park (1/3 of a mile) and Powell Butte, there will be enough new trails in Tualatin Mountains to “go for a reasonable ride.”

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Jansky says Metro wants to built 6-8 miles of singletrack in one of the parcels and 3-4 in the other and it’ll be easy (and fun) to ride between the two. (Of the other two parcels, one will be set aside solely for conservation and the other will have hiking trails but no bicycle access.)

There has not been a very vocal opposition to these plans yet; but we’ve gotten word that some neighbors are now organizing a protest. At first their concerns were that bicycling would be incompatible with wildlife (herds of elk have been seen in the park), but now the opposition says that the 2013 Metro levy prohibits cycling trails in natural areas (it doesn’t) and they’re worried the new trails will attract too much traffic to the area.

The sign below was recently spotted by a reader at the entrace to one of the parcels:


In the wake of controversial decisions by the City of Portland to blatantly ignore much-needed improvements to bicycle access in Forest Park and the River View Natural Area, Metro has decided on a different route: Their plan will represent one of the most significant steps forward for off-road singletrack trails in the history of Portland.

Metro says they’ve arrived at this trail plan proposal after listening to, “a rich and respectful conversation.” They’ve also made it clear from the get-go that any trail access decisions would be made with ecological preservation as a top priority.

Jansky with the NW Trail Alliance says having people show up to the meeting and support this trail proposal is absolutely critical. The NWTA strongly supported the passage of the 2013 natural area levy with precisely this type of plan in mind and now he says it’s time to support Metro for making it a reality.

Tonight’s meeting is the final chance for public input. Once the plan is completed and approved, Metro will move into the design phase and decide the exact trail alignments. Construction could begin in 2016 with trails opening by 2017.

    North Tualatins Natural Area Final Community Meeting
    November 17th, 2015
    6:30 pm at Skyline Elementary School (11536 NW Skyline Blvd)
    Facebook event page

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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  • Mick O November 16, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Can we read the text of the levy anywhere?

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  • Adam Herstein
    Adam Herstein November 16, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Great news! The neighbors concerned about increased traffic should be pushing for cycle tracks on 30, so people will be able to ride their bikes to the mountain biking destination instead of driving.

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    • Charley November 16, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      Nailed it!

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    • Brian November 17, 2015 at 8:13 am

      Better yet, a trail through Forest Park to avoid that highway altogether. Dirt>Pavement

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      • Bradwagon April 14, 2016 at 3:37 pm

        Uh no thanks. Leif Erikson should not be paved, even if it was it is 11 miles long and only gets you to Germantown. Extending it would be completely unrealistic also. The top of Newberry is 12 miles from waterfront park for reference. You really think mountain bikers are going to tacking on 25 miles or more of pavement riding to get to and from their single tracks? No. This will be a drive in destination mountain biking area.

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  • Charley November 16, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    I can’t make the meeting, but I heartily support Metro’s current plan. It’s great to see some leadership on this recreational issue from Metro.

    For those with concerns, keep in mind that the more people we can convince to get outside, the more voters we’ll have in favor of natural area bonds. More broadly, the more people who get outside, the more environmentalists we’ll have to tackle big issues like climate change and rampant development. A personal connection with our wild places is the most powerful way to activate citizens into working for a better environmental future. Let’s get kids outside on bikes!!!!

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  • bjorn November 16, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    This isn’t a destination mountain bike park as proposed, no one is going to be flying to portland to ride 10 miles of decent trails. The whole point is that we don’t want to have to go on vacation in order to go for a bike ride, this is a trail system primarily for people who live near it. The attempt by whoever made the flyer to cast the possibility of a linear park that allows cycling to be included in the overall plan as building of a destination mountain bike park is just as false as the notion that the levy prohibits mountain biking as a use and we need to challenge the validity of such a statement.

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    • davemess November 17, 2015 at 7:07 am

      I live in outer, Southern SE, and I don’t even know if I would go to this all that much. If I want to drive 45 minutes, I could get to Sandy in almost a similar amount of time.

      But making multiple locations around town that people can bike to and ride is very important.

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  • UncleMuscles November 16, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    People often misunderstand the phrase “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. It really means that those with incomplete knowledge of a situation can make it worse. It doesn’t mean that the guy (or girl) who looked up an administrative code for 5 minutes should assume they understand anything about the situation. The latter applies in the case of our nimby sign posters here.

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  • spencer November 16, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    see you all Tuesday night! be heard

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  • Brian November 17, 2015 at 6:32 am

    It is important that we not allow a vocal minority to thwart the process and continue to dictate the anti-mtb narrative here in the Portland area. We must voice our opinions. Though this may not be a mtb “destination,” it does provide a significant increase in local singletrack. Lastly, I am hopeful that the trails that are created will have some variety in terms of technical challenge. This is something that has sorely been missing in our area for a long time.

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  • Jeff November 17, 2015 at 7:22 am

    Is that sign a criminal act?



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    • oliver November 17, 2015 at 8:45 am

      certainly appears that way.

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  • snowden November 17, 2015 at 7:28 am

    The information on the sign is inaccurate on two counts. Biking can be compatible with habitat protection. And not only does the levy not prohibit mountain biking, it specifically mentions the possibility of creating biking opportunities on these specific parcels. More sensationalism and false claims from the anti/NIMBY crowd.

    Metro is on solid ground here and has been much more progressive than PP&R and the City of Portland in general relative to this form of recreation. As part of the Portland Off-Road master plan effort, I hope there is a discussion of linking these trails to a north/south route through Forest Park, one that is much more accessible than the existing gravel roads, which are very steep. This could also be linked to a trail that runs along the N. Portland bluffs, creating part of a larger loop. Ride to Ride folks.

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  • MNBikeLuv November 17, 2015 at 8:16 am

    This could also be linked to a trail that runs along the N. Portland bluffs, creating part of a larger loop. Ride to Ride folks.

    This is what is happening in Duluth, MN right now. Duluth had 4 parks in town that each had their own multi-use MTB trails. Starting in 2013, construction started on the Duluth Traverse, which is a single trail that connects all these parks (and Spirit Mt.) into a single system of trails.

    You can read more about here: http://gearjunkie.com/featured/duluth-mountain-biking-trails

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    • Brian November 17, 2015 at 9:50 am

      That looks fantastic. Our sections of trails could be connected via neighborhood greenways and MUPs, along with smaller greenspaces with trails and neighborhood parks with pump tracks/skills parks. I am hopeful that our City will finally start to “think big” with what we can do moving forward for off-road cycling.

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    • Tad November 17, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      I got spoiled by exactly this type of park situation in Knoxville, TN. The Ijams Urban Wilderness (http://ijams.org/knoxvilles-urban-wilderness/) is only around 10 mins ride from downtown Knoxville, and has a 13-mile loop of interconnected singletrack which is among the best I’ve ridden. The company I worked for sent people to the trail regularly on volunteer days to build berms, bridges, etc, and the parking lot is filled with 20-30 cars every worknight of folks there going for afternoon MTB rides.

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  • Eric November 17, 2015 at 8:43 am

    I’m cautiously optimistic. I’ve only lived in Portland 10 years, but it seems like these usually end up with Lucy holding a football can Charlie Brown trying to kick it. My fingers are firmly crossed.

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  • Josh Chernoff November 17, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    I’m a nature conservationist first and foremost and it is this fact why I personally bike. Increasing human activity in a forest does little to help conserve it IMO and that is why I’m in opposition of this track. How about instead of trying to turn of plot of forest into a playground we make existing playgrounds better. I for one love Powell butte and I know for a fact that are plenty other places to MT bike in our area.

    I’d expect this same sentiment from my fellow cyclists. I personally would rather see that money go towards parks that desperately need to be cleaned of trash and homeless camps. I’m not anti MT biking I’m just a strong believer in keeping some sanctity to our land.

    We don’t need more bike infrastructure in our forests, we need better urban infrastructure to protect our forests.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 17, 2015 at 12:22 pm


      I hear you concerns. I would say that it’s a delicate balance. But consider this: By passing a levy, Metro now has funding to do a ton of conservation in these forests that would have otherwise never happened. (And it’s not like these are pristine forests to begin with. They’ve been logged and neglected for many years.) And in order for Metro to get those levy dollars, they agreed to allow public access into these parcels.

      With public access comes more use and more use can degrade the land. But well-managed use can have very little impact on the land. And getting the public more invested not only allows professional ecologists and conservations to do their work, it also brings in more volunteers and people who will fight to protect this land from abuse and mismanagement in the future.

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      • Josh Chernoff November 17, 2015 at 2:58 pm

        The fundamental difference between you and me is that I don’t believe that a forest has to be a commodity for consumption or that it can only exist for my or anyone else’s benefit for it to be respected and maintained. Putting a playground in this forest is not respecting it by means of creating special interest to maintain it. You said so your self “its delicate” and with anything that is delicate the more you handle it the more you put it at risk. I’m not in favor of placing our forests at risk for the benefit of anyone ever period. We don’t belong in that forest. If we must venture into it we should do as much to have as little presence in there as possible that includes restricting activities such as biking, camping, horseback riding ect. Its not a playground its a forest nothing more and it should be respected as such. I personally don’t need to go into that place to understand or respect it, there are plenty of other parks for that.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 17, 2015 at 4:10 pm

          I hear you Josh. I think we have more shared values around this than you might think. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

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    • Brian November 17, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      I, too, am a conservationist and therefore believe that humans need to be in the wild, using it wisely. If building and sharing trails in a neglected space means that more people will be in the wild and hopefully also becoming conservationists like you and I, then it is a tax levy and time well spent.

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    • TheRealisticOne November 17, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      Josh, as a conservationist, you have to acknowledge the benefit of improved and controlled access to some of these remote areas that are not well monitored right now. There are plenty of examples where appropriate and controlled trail building has improved the natural environment. It’s one thing if you simply take a lead from “the Sierra Club” and blindly deny access based upon flawed studies that have been countered time and again, but if so, just say it.

      Secondly, you must be implying that there will be trail improvements in Forest Park ? Most of us that have been around for a while know that this is and always will be a battle, and sadly, due to groups like “Sierra Club” and Portland city counselors with their “faceless” supporters, likely won’t happen. People will continue to explore wilderness regardless of efforts to stop them. Controlled and monitored access is the best way to help maintain the natural environment.

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      • davemess November 17, 2015 at 6:10 pm

        Are we calling a parcel of land within 10-15 miles of Portland “remote”?

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      • bjorn November 19, 2015 at 4:33 am

        Forest park is not wilderness!

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    • Alex November 17, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      > I for one love Powell butte and I know for a fact that are plenty other places to MT bike in our area.

      Really? Where? A place I can bike to and not use my car? And I will go on record that I am not a huge fan of Powell Butte and don’t really consider it mountain biking.

      > I’d expect this same sentiment from my fellow cyclists. I personally would rather see that money go towards parks that desperately need to be cleaned of trash and homeless camps.

      You do find a similar sentiment of environmentalism from many cyclists, but they don’t necessarily agree with you that mountain biking is doing any more damage to the land than hiking and you really haven’t cited anything to go along with that notion. Horses do more damage (by their own admission) and are allowed in Wilderness Areas, but bikes aren’t. I think it is more politics and less science that goes with your thoughts – both for cycling and dealing with poverty in this country/city.

      > I’m not anti MT biking I’m just a strong believer in keeping some sanctity to our land.

      Then I suggest you look up the impact studies on mountain biking. You will find that pretty much all the science equates it to the impact of hiking. I don’t get how mountain biking somehow violates the land, but bringing non-native species that are known spreaders of invasive species is ok.

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    • wsbob November 17, 2015 at 6:42 pm

      Josh…thanks for your thoughts expressed here. Big difference in terms of dedicated purpose, between these relatively newly acquired lands of North Tualitan Mtn, and Forest Park.

      Approaching a century ago, the assemblage of Forest Park’s present acreage was started, for the purpose of providing Portland residents with a wild and natural place away from the commotion of the city: a nature park, meaning it’s free of vehicular use, including bikes, except on the few of what essentially are roads in the park.

      North Tualitan, on the other hand, is a recent acquisition, by a regional wide governmental agency rather than a single city. This land doesn’t carry with it the designated purpose that guides Forest Park’s continued level of protection against activities not compatible with the park’s function as primarily a nature park.

      So the way for North Tualitan to be used for mountain biking is fairly clear. Acquisition of the land was on a Metro election ballot. People region wide, voted for it. Can’t remember for certain, but I do think I remember voting for it, and reading that mountain biking would be among activities the land would be used for. Use of this land for mountain biking could be ok. The idea that trails built on it will be used by mountain bikers having the objective of ‘accessing nature’, rather than technical riding type mountain biking, is debatable.

      The metro area should have more natural areas on which mountain biking is an allowed activity, and Metro is the type of agency by which more land ought to be acquired to provide for it. Yet natural and otherwise open land can get eaten up fast by economic growth and development. There’s lessons of this to be seen on the south face of the Tualatin Mtn, and Chehalem Mtn to the south. And of course, in the lowlands between as well.

      To be used in part for mountain biking, it’s possible that people interested in more mountain bike opportunities closer to the city, could help to acquire some of this yet undeveloped land.

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      • Dan A November 18, 2015 at 7:16 am

        “Approaching a century ago, the assemblage of Forest Park’s present acreage was started, for the purpose of providing Portland residents with a wild and natural place away from the commotion of the city: a nature park, meaning it’s free of vehicular use, including bikes, except on the few of what essentially are roads in the park.”


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        • Zimmerman November 18, 2015 at 10:02 am

          He always cites himself as a source. I think it’s some kind of physical manifestation through written repetition wishfulness.

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          • Alex November 18, 2015 at 10:23 am

            Also, the irony is that cycling is already allowed there in the most dangerous and user-conflict oriented space.

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      • Dan A November 19, 2015 at 6:53 am

        Maybe you can locate it here?


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  • Jen Chernoff November 17, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    Sounds a lot like when conservatives say, “Why don’t you appreciate all the jobs this [ insert very delicate natural resource ] will create by our [ insert idiotic human ideas ]. Leave it alone, or give it back to the tribes that lived there initially.

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    • longgone November 18, 2015 at 11:35 pm

      Yes, because off-road cycling was our tyrannical forefathers greatest vision quest of Manifest Destiny.

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  • Zaphod November 17, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    That sign is clever because it creates the imagery of a big park, a theme park of sorts where riders will be shredding and getting all Mountain Dew on everyone. Rad>!!! Well real mountain biking is about being in nature and getting the blood flowing. It’s not much different in velocity to trail running. And a properly built trail will fare quite well. It’s a low impact sport and to EVER put conservationists and mountain bikers on opposite sides is simply incorrect. It doesn’t invite anarchy. It invites a few more people to the metaphorical party.

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    • longgone November 19, 2015 at 8:38 am

      What he said.

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