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First look at Metro’s plans to build new singletrack trails north of Forest Park

Posted by on November 17th, 2015 at 12:17 pm

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Detail of Metro’s trail plans.

We have important updates on a story we shared yesterday about a historic step forward for off-road cycling in Portland.

As you might have heard, Metro is on the verge of finalizing a plan that would develop several mountain parcels north of Forest Park. Two of the parcels are slated to include singletrack trails built specifically for mountain biking. If built, these trails would represent the largest network of off-road bike trails ever developed in Portland. In advance of a final public meeting about the plans that will be held tonight, Metro has published the meeting materials on the project website.

In addition to giving you a more detailed look at Metro’s plans, I also want to elaborate on a point I made in yesterday’s story about the people who are organizing opposition to the bike trails. A key point in their case against Metro’s inclusion of the trails in these plans is a contention that the land was purchased solely to protect habitat and that, “a mountain bike park is contrary to the terms of the levy.”

I tracked down the resolution passed by Metro Council in December 2012 that lays out the levy in detail in order to show that cycling — even in these specific parcels — was called out as a possible use from very early on.

First, let’s take a closer look at the plans Metro will present tonight…

Of the four parcels that make up the North Tualatin Mountains, Metro will only develop two of them: Burlington Creek Forest and McCarthy Creek Forest. Here’s a map to give you some context on the location of the four parcels. The two stars are where bicycling trails will be built. Multnomah Channel and Highway 30 are in the upper right and the northern boundary of Forest Park is in the lower right:

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The 339 acre Burlington parcel will be the first phase of the project and it will get most of the attention.

The Burlington Creek area is located adjacent to Highway 30 just south of McNamee Road (or Cornelius Pass Road, if you aren’t familiar with McNamee). Metro’s plans call for a fully developed trailhead south of McNamee Road that includes parking for 15 cars, a restroom, a picnic table, and so on.

As for riding a bike at Burlington, there will be a total of 6.15 miles of trails and gravel roads. The breakdown is 2.7 miles of gravel road; 1.2 miles of shared trail; and 2.25 miles of what Metro calls “off-road cycling optimized” trail.

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Trail breakdown for Burlington Creek Forest parcel.

The 403 acre McCarthy Creek Forest parcel is south of Burlington Creek. The main entrance will be off of NW Skyline Blvd where it intersects with McNamee Road near the Skyline Grange (there will be two additional trailheads on McNamee).

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Metro will develop McCarthy as a second phase of the project and trail alignments are flexible based on lessons they learn from Burlington. That being said, Metro’s current plans include 4.5 miles of trails and gravel roads — all of which will be open to bicycle riders. Of particular note is a 0.7 mile beginner loop near the main entrance that will be build specifically for cycling. plans to build some beginner-friendly mountain bike trails.

Here’s the map and the trail breakdown:

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Trail breakdown for McCarthy Creek parcel.

Keep in mind that it will be possible to bike between these two parcels on McNamee Road (I’m not aware of a dirt connection, can anyone shed light on that possibility?).

Given the disappointments of Forest Park and more recently River View, these plans are a breath of fresh air.

However, not everyone feels this way. An opposition is organizing and they plan to tell Metro that allowing biking on these parcels goes against the terms of the 2013 levy. We looked up the resolution that endorsed the levy as passed by Metro Council on December 18th 2012. On page 16 of the resolution (PDF here), there’s a paragraph that refers to Agency Creek (former name of Burlington Creek) and McCarthy Creek.

Here’s the passage (emphases mine):

Various parcels near to but outside of Forest Park are currently or could be used by walkers or cyclists to access nature close to Portland. Access to the site is challenging and there may be opportunities to enhance use. Over the past decade the demand for single track mountain biking trails has increased. This project would explore the potential to provide quality cycling and hiking experiences for formal singletrack cycling and walking trails, and as appropriate, construct the facilities.

Andy Jansky with the Northwest Trail Alliance says his group fully supported the levy and has worked closely with Metro on these plans as a member of their advisory committee. He hopes mountain bike riders show up to the meeting tonight to show Metro that trails like this are needed and supported by the community. He also shared some advice about what to do at the meeting.

“Find a Metro staffer and tell them you story. Tell they why you’re so passionate about the outdoors. Then talk to a neighbor and have a conversation about who you are and why you love to ride your bike. This is a community event, it’s not the place to complain or pick fights.”

We’ll be watching this project very closely over the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned for more coverage. If you have support or criticisms of Metro’s plans, email Olena Turula at Olena.Turula@oregonmetro.gov.

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

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

34 Comments
  • Avatar
    Aaron November 17, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Looks good, but will these parcels of land be interconnected with trails? Will they also be connected with Forest Park?

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 17, 2015 at 2:16 pm

      Good question Aaron. I forgot to put it in the story (just added it) but yes, you can easily bike between the two parcels via McNamee Road. That road is paved but has low traffic. I’m sure there is an off-road connector but I’m not aware of it yet. Perhaps someone else can chime in? It’d be really cool if there was a gravel road between the two!

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        matt November 17, 2015 at 4:51 pm

        Ha, McNamee is a brute of a road on anything but a road bike with the fittest of rider. But to get between Burlington and Ennis you could probably just ride the Pacific Corp access road that cuts through (Trail D at Burlington)

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        davemess November 17, 2015 at 6:15 pm

        It’d be even cooler if there was a trail between the two.

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    Alex November 17, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    I feel like the people arguing against it will go to great lengths to stop this…and if it actually does get implemented I hope they don’t get violent like they have in the past (Vandeman, the woman in N. Vancouver, the Sandy Ridge incidents, etc).

    It seems like it is probably the same people mentioned in this November article of the NW Examiner: http://nwexaminer.com/forest-park-main-entrance. It sure seems to be the same logic – they can’t really tie it to any science but mention it in the same breath as declining bird counts and negative impacts on the environment from unmentioned, highly-impactful uses, somehow implicitly making mountain biking bad.

    This is a very motivated, vocal minority and it really seems to bring out the worst in people – I hope cooler heads can prevail.

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      TheRealisticOne November 17, 2015 at 3:54 pm

      Alex, great comment!NIMBYism…I find it absolutely apaulling that people buy houses near a busy park, a racetrack, an airport and then complain about the noise. Houle…Declining bird counts? seriously? show some scientific evidence to prove it, can they decline naturally? I call this the “Sierra Club” rational, make insubstantiated claims and expect people to believe it. Thank you for showing this list of characters, does anyone think that we’ll get anywhere with these people involved?
      Mitch Greenlick, Mike Abbate, AMANDA FRITZ, Michael Caputo, Catherine Thompson, Les Blaize, Marcy Houle-stating unsubstantiated data, John Deschler, Astrid Dragoy, Les/Arnie Rochlin. Some will say good things, but I don’t trust much.
      But, I will be an optimist, we need to be strong in our opposition to the “nay sayers”.

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      Bill Walters November 17, 2015 at 4:45 pm

      Vandeman is a Bay Area character AFAIK, so probably little chance of direct violence from him.

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        Alex November 18, 2015 at 10:20 am

        Was pointing out a national trend – it happens on semi-frequent basis and not just here.

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          Psyfalcon November 18, 2015 at 11:13 am

          He has commented both here, and on Olive.

          Maybe not directly, but his pseudoscience website and agitating could have an effect.

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            Alex November 18, 2015 at 2:32 pm

            He has also been convicted of violently attacking a mountain biker.

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    MNBikeLuv November 17, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    It’s a good first step! Maybe I will have to rent a MTB bike next time I’m out…

    I am, however, struck by 3 facts in this designs:
    1) The amount of intersections
    2) The lack of really long singletrack segments
    3) The lack of self-contained loops

    At my local trail we have learned intersections are the biggest area where confusion happens. Here the intersections also route different users different directions. I could see how user group conflicts could happen if someone goes the wrong way at an intersection.

    As to the mileage and loops, look at the Burlington Creek plan. Why not connect E, F, G & H into a double stacked directional loop that interfaces with C 4 times: twice on lower section and twice on the upper section? Seems like that would make the miles here into longer segments and create 2 nice loops. It would only require some minor changes to routing of F & H.

    @ Alex – That vocal minority “greenwashes” the real issue they care about: “those people” in “their” local park.

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      Alex November 17, 2015 at 2:26 pm

      Yes, it is a time-tested, successful method of NIMBYism in Portland.

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  • Adam Herstein
    Adam Herstein November 17, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Looks like it will be a great facility. Metro should coordinate with TriMet to get bus service to the park, as well. The 16 bus line isn’t far from the proposed site.

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      Jeff November 17, 2015 at 6:42 pm

      Yeah, Tri-Met access would be really helpful.

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    canuck November 17, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    How will access be controlled? You can’t ride trails year round, but there will be some who do and damage them.

    Why is there horse access? Horses tear up trails. Once torn up it takes a minimal amount of water and riding to create a quagmire if the trails aren’t closed. Just look at the shared trails in Stub Stewart.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 17, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      canuck,

      there will not be horse access. Metro took it off the table after they didn’t much demand for it at all. Oh, and no dogs will be allowed on any of the properties so hopefully we won’t be seeing all the plastic bag trash that’s currently strewn all over Forest Park.

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        MNBikeLuv November 18, 2015 at 7:53 am

        Good. Horses are the worst.

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      matt November 17, 2015 at 4:52 pm

      Probably the same as it’s controlled at Powell Butte… Which means it isn’t other than user regulated and signed closures.

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        davemess November 17, 2015 at 6:17 pm

        and if the trails are built well, there isn’t a ton of impact if a few knuckleheads ride them when muddy.

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          Psyfalcon November 18, 2015 at 11:17 am

          2 years ago (I think) Powell had a huge mud pit near the top. Everything else was dry, or just a little greasy on top of hardpack. Couldn’t do some of the loops because of one spot.

          Even off road trails suffer from weak links.

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            davemess November 18, 2015 at 5:42 pm

            Most of those trails (almost all) have been rebuilt in the last two years.

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    Rob Kerr November 17, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    This looks promising. Thanks for the great work bikeportland.org!

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    matt November 17, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    I’m really surprised BPA and Pacificorp are allowing public usage of their access roads…

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      Mark s November 17, 2015 at 6:46 pm

      Aren’t both of those quasi government agencies?

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      Tyler November 18, 2015 at 10:48 am

      BPA allows public use currently on the access road from Skyline down to Firelane 12 in Forest Park. It was actually a fun double track ride until it got dumped with inches of large gravel.

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    Mark s November 17, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Alex
    I feel like the people arguing against it will go to great lengths to stop this…and if it actually does get implemented I hope they don’t get violent like they have in the past (Vandeman, the woman in N. Vancouver, the Sandy Ridge incidents, etc).It seems like it is probably the same people mentioned in this November article of the NW Examiner: http://nwexaminer.com/forest-park-main-entrance. It sure seems to be the same logic – they can’t really tie it to any science but mention it in the same breath as declining bird counts and negative impacts on the environment from unmentioned, highly-impactful uses, somehow implicitly making mountain biking bad.This is a very motivated, vocal minority and it really seems to bring out the worst in people – I hope cooler heads can prevail.Recommended 4

    There are uber nutty people everywhere. It seems like the nutty bunch glom on the to “earth and sky are my mother and I will defend her to the death” religion.

    It’s not just for bikes. People riding motorcycles have been victims of assault and murder just for riding legally on public land.

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    christopher November 17, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    This is really awesome! Though I hope Portland will go even further. Give cyclists back River View and open up some trails in Forest Park. Then Portland will truly be a destination for cyclists of all kinds.

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      davemess November 18, 2015 at 6:03 am

      Yes, with those parks and new trails at Gateway Green, most of the city would have reasonable access to trails nearby.

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    BB November 18, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Sounds good, but really not getting my hopes up, as the ubiquitous anti-bike zealot birders will surely find a way to stop it from happening. Even if it does go through, does anyone really think that actual challenging singletrack will be allowed to be built? “Cycling Optimized” will surely be translated as double-track gravel roads.
    Sorry for the pessimism, but we’ve seen these same glimmers of hope for decades now, and the lunatic birders just seem to have way too much clout with the local government.

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      oliver November 18, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      I was somewhat dismayed listening to the opening speaker, his comments indicate to me that he views his role specifically to spend metro dollars purchasing land for the enhancement and preservation of wildlife.

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    mark November 18, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Oh…the bird people. I heard about them.

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    Rita November 18, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    I’m all for it – will probably be on any volunteer work crew to develop these trails.

    Having said that, it’s definitely been designed by pencil pushers rather than people who actually ride. The intersections as noted above, have this idea that bikes will not stop on the non-bike route, and if someone needs to take it, they will. If I’m reading this right, it’s a grand total of 10.6 miles, split in two chunks that are not connected, and is predominantly gravel road. And I have to drive to get there.

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      BB November 18, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      Agreed it’s obviously designed by bureaucrats rather than cyclists. Although likely with Metro in charge I’d doubt they’d leave it up to volunteers, but rather assign a task group for it, likely one including minimal singletrack building experience.

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    Charley November 18, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    Here’s to hoping! Pretty far for me to visit, though, considering I’m pretty much just over the river from the Riverview “You’re Not Allowed” Area.

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