As we bide our time for the City’s Off-Road Cycling Master Plan to be completed and wait eagerly for Gateway Green in east Portland to open up this year (you are going to the Big Dig on Saturday, right?), there’s something worth watching in the small city of Scappoose.
A mere 20 miles north of downtown Portland, Scappoose is known to many adventure-oriented riders for being the home of the Crown-Zellerbach Trail and gateway to Vernonia, Astoria, and all the great riding in Columbia County. Now it might become home to several miles of new off-road bike trails on a currently vacant 80-acre parcel of land known locally as Vista Park.
At last week’s monthly meeting of the Northwest Trail Alliance I met Bryan Hammond, a Scappoose resident who has stepped up to make Vista Park a reality. Backed by the Northwest Trail Alliance, Hammond has created a proposal (PDF) for the Vista Park Trail System and has shared it with the City of Scappoose Parks Committee.
The concept — which is still in its formative stages — is to create several hiking and biking trails within the 80-acre park that would appeal to a wide variety of riders. Hammond has mapped out three trails: the “Backbone” trail which would be mixed-use on an old fire road that would lead to a singletrack loop with “stunning views” of the Columbia River; the “Highland” trail which would be more bike-centric; and the “Skillz” trail a bike-only loop that would be more challenging and technical. Hammond also sees potential for pump track/skills area that would be the bike equivalent of a skate park that would appeal especially to younger people in the area.
Here’s the concept trail map so far:
Hammond says Vista Park is needed because there’s a lack of off-road trail access in the Scappose area. Existing mountain-bike trails are owned by a private timber company and are subject to random closures and/or require permits. Vista Park could also tap into demand that’s being generated by the CZ Trail, the ever-expanding trail system (thanks to NW Trail Alliance) at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park in Vernonia and the off-road riding areas in Forest Park (as limited as they might be).
There’s also a lot in it for the Scappoose economy. “The community would become the ‘hub’ of the trail system,” Hammond notes in the proposal. As we’ve reported in the past, Columbia County is already doing its part to court cycling.
The City currently owns the land and Hammond expects building and maintaining trails will be done by volunteers. The main barrier to moving forward is to make sure everyone is aware of the project and wants it to move forward. Vista Park is currently open to the public and is used by locals, so it’s already on the mental map of many residents.
Hammond sees a model for success in leveraging local volunteers with NW Trail Alliance’s expertise, equipment and connections to land agencies. The NWTA has become a trusted partner of Oregon State Parks (Stub Stewart), the Bureau of Land Management (Sandy Ridge), Portland Parks & Recreation (Ventura Park Pump Track), and others.
Ben Tolles with the City of Scappoose has been following the project. He says the time could be right for a new park to materialize because the city is in the process of updating their 1997 Parks Master Plan. The update is happening specifically to encourage new park developments in the city.
“Right now our plan is to talk about Vista Park at our Annual Town Meeting this weekend to see how the community feels about it,” Tolles shared with us via email this week. “We have a great idea but right now it’s just that: an idea. Once we gauge community support we can decide if we officially include in the City’s Parks Master Plan as a goal of the city.”
Tolles added that he’s heard strong support from Scappoose residents for the park, but that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal.
Hammond and Tolles say they want to get more feedback from potential users. Vista Park is expected to be a topic of conversation at the upcoming annual town hall meeting this Saturday (2/11). If you live, work, or ride in Scappoose, consider showing up and sharing your thoughts. You can also email Tolles at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If all goes smoothly, Vista Park could break ground by fall of this year.