New skills trail, major upgrades proposed for Sandy Ridge trailhead

Velo Cult's party-barge parked at Sandy Ridge after an event last month. A major expansion to the parking lot will feature more room for tailgating and other uses.(Photo: Velo Cult Bike Shop)

Velo Cult’s party-barge parked at Sandy Ridge after an event last month. A major expansion to the parking lot will feature more room for tailgating and other uses.
(Photo: Velo Cult Bike Shop)

Since they first opened in 2010, the off-road cycling trails at Sandy Ridge have become such a resounding success that the Bureau of Land Management wants to double-down on its investment.

According to environmental assessment documents filed by the BLM, their Sandy Ridge Trailhead Access project is comprised of a slew of additions and upgrades that will add over four acres to the facility. The project includes: an expanded parking area with oversided stalls and “tailgate bumpouts,” a beginner skills trail loop and a bike demo area; a “bicycle hub” featuring a changing room, bike-wash station and a bus stop; a designated special events area; an upgraded entrace; and two short connecting trails.

Here’s a bit more info and a few images of the proposed improvements (taken from the BLM environmental assessment document):

Expanded Parking Area

In order to construct the parking area and additional amenities, a total footprint of 4.2 acres will be disturbed. To construct the parking area, 2.02 acres of the total footprint will be cleared of all vegetation, including small diameter trees if necessary for safety and overall design. The type of vegetation that would be removed includes small Black Cotton Wood, Red Alder, small Western Hemlock, Salmon Berry, California Hazelnut, and Vine Maple. The parking area will be asphalted and parking spaces will be delineated with strips and curbs.

The parking spaces are designed to be over sized spaces to allow for any size passenger vehicle to be parked comfortably and leave ample space to maneuver their gear in and out of the vehicles. Eighteen additional areas for tailgating or picnicking between three parking spots, or bump-outs, will be cleared, graveled, and outfitted with a picnic table for spaces on the exterior of the parking area (EA Figure 2). The expanded parking area will remove 19 standard parking spaces from the existing trailhead parking area, leaving 17 standard parking spaces; while adding 163 new standard parking spaces, four large vehicle parking spaces, and additional handicap designated parking. One additional vault restroom will be installed adjacent to the existing vault restroom to accommodate visitors within the expanded parking area. Two gates will be installed on either side of the expanding parking area loop near the large vehicle spaces to allow for winter season closure of a majority of the new parking spaces for public health and safety.

Beginner Bicycle Skills Trail
Within the interior of the expanded parking area a mountain bicycle beginner skills trail will be built. The skills trail area will encompass approximate 2 acres of the disturbance footprint within the expanded parking area loop (EA Figure 3). Vegetation within the 2 acres will remain in place, including large woody debris. The BLM will remove any non-native and invasive plant species and replace them with fruiting and flowering shrubs and understory trees, Western red cedar, and other vegetation as prescribed by the BLM Wildlife Biologist and Botanist to facilitate wildlife and migratory bird habitat. Construction of the beginner trails will be completed by either BLM or the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) through an existing assistance agreement for the Sandy Ridge Trail System. All trails constructed in the beginner skills area will follow IMBA and BLM non-motorized trail guidance and design features (EA Section 2.4.4).

Bicycle Hub Structure

A bicycle hub, wash station, changing room, and bus stop will be encompassed into one structure and installed south of the existing parking area (EA Figure 3). The structure will be built and installed in cooperation by a BLM non-profit partner. The hub itself will provide tools for small bicycle repairs as well as local area safety equipment and information. Changing rooms and a Mount Hood Express bus stop will also be added to the hub structure. All of the amenities included in the bicycle hub will have a total disturbance foot print of approximately 800 square feet.

The bicycle wash station will help reduce the spread of non-native and invasive species by providing an area for visitors to pressure spray dirt and debris from their bicycle before entering and leaving the trail system. The bike wash station would consist of a structure to hang the bikes on, a low pressure water source to spray bikes and gear off, and a stiff bristle brush to brush off any remaining dirt that cannot be sprayed off. A well head will be installed near the hub to provide less than 5,000 gallons a day of potable water for drinking and for the wash station, which would not require a water right according to the state water master of the region.

Designated Events Area
The existing parking area will be re-purposed to function as an area for permitted trailhead events and concessionaires, including bicycle demos and food carts (EA Figure 3). The Designated Events Area will be built within the center of the existing parking area. A bike demonstration event is where a mountain bike manufacturing or retail company brings a trailer of mountain bikes to Sandy Ridge Trailhead and allows potential customers to test ride the mountain bikes. There is a need to develop a formal bike demo and event area to allow for better accommodations and to reduce the amount of parking spaces used for events. In 2016, there have been 28 scheduled events at Sandy Ridge Trailhead.
A 125 foot by 150 foot pad will be cleared of vegetation, graded, and paved with asphalt within the interior of the existing parking area. Approximately 20 small trees will be removed from the areas in order to construct the pad. In addition to formalizing the event area for bike demos, the re-purposed area would allow for food trucks and carts, providing for a greater level of service for the community and visitors. The area will be available to reserve for events through the Northwest Oregon District SRP process.

Entrance Redesign

A new entrance will be developed that better meets the management objectives of the Sandy Ridge Trailhead. The entrance will incorporate the same style of design, material, art, structure, and sculptures that will be throughout the parking area. The new entrance design may feature an arch entry way that spans the width of the entrance road, with sculptures and stonework of mountain bikers and native wildlife. The location of the new entrance design will be in roughly the same location as the current entrance sign. Considerations for security and safety will be taken into consideration for the new entrance design. For additional design drawings, see EA Chapter 5.

Connecting Trails
Two small connecting trails, totaling 120 feet in length, will be built to connect to the existing trails that are near the trailhead (EA Figure 3). There is currently a loop trail that rings around the proposed parking area. A new trail will be built connecting the northern most portion of the trailhead to the existing loop trail.
Another connecting trail will be built to tie in a nearly completed trail from Barlow Wayside trail to the Sandy Ridge Trailhead. This connecting trail will be for pedestrians only, and trail constructing may include stairs or other built in obstructions to deter the use of bikes on the Barlow Wayside trail.

The BLM estimates about 90,000 people visited the Sandy Ridge trails in 2015, making it one of the most popular recreation spots in the entire region. They say these new amenities and upgrades are necessary in order to, “provide increased site access, improved safety, and to protect the natural environment to provide for a high quality recreation experience.”

The major increase in parking capacity for instance is proposed because many people park out on Barlow Road when the current lot with just 36 parking spaces gets full. There are an estimated 326 vehicles a day that use the lot during the peak riding season. When people park along the road it’s a “serious safety concern” because of poor sight distances and high volume of trucks that use the road.

The BLM also wants to encourage people to not drive to the trailhead. They say the new bus stop, “would allow visitors that do not have access to privately owned vehicles the ability to frequently access the trailhead from the surrounding communities and the Portland-Metropolitan area.”

If you have concerns or want to show your support for this proposal you can share your feedback via this online form through December 8th. You can also contact NW Oregon District Recreation Planner Dan Davis via email at

We’re trying to track down a project timeline and will update this post when we hear more.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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