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Sneak peek at Gateway Green, east Portland’s off-road biking oasis

Posted by on June 15th, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Gateway Green will offer an impressive array of off-road riding experiences.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Believe it or not the opening of new bike trails at Gateway Green is just over one week away. Dubbed the “Dirt Lab,” the new park’s skills area, jump lines, and single-track trails will offer an enticing combination of riding experiences unlike anything Portland has ever seen before.

Gathering at Gateway Green

First Tracks at the Dirt Lab
Saturday June 24th 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

  • Family activities
  • Demo bikes available
  • Guided tours for MTB first-timers
  • Beer garden and food trucks

Full event details here.

I’ve followed the evolution of this project for nearly a decade now and after seeing the trails with my own eyes yesterday I am more excited than ever. And you should be too. Whether you end up riding at Gateway Green or not (I bet many of you will try off-road cycling there for the first time), I have a strong hunch that this park will have a very positive impact on east Portland and the entire region.

Just imagine: A park you can only access on foot or by bike with trails built exclusively for cycling in a part of town that is starving for investment in infrastructure that promotes community and physical activity.

We’ll share more thoughts on that exciting bigger picture next week. For now, how about more images of the trails?!

Yesterday I met up with Northwest Trail Alliance President Chris Rotvik to get a closer look at how the trails are shaping up just 10 days before the big opening event. Rotvik took me on a walking tour of the 25-acre site.

The park will evolve and change over the years. When it opens next Saturday, most of the biking elements — a.k.a. the Dirt Lab — will be ready. There are three basic sections that make up the Dirt Lab: the skills area in the flat, lower portion of the park; a downhill area on the southern side; and a forested trail section along a ridge on the eastern side of the site.

The skills area consists of a pump track, an area with obstacles to practice various skills, and a jump line for those who are comfortable launching themselves and their bikes into the air (not me, not yet at least).

The pump track is made out of molded concrete. It cost about $60,000 and was delivered in sections that were then welded together. It’s about 80-feet long by 20-feet wide can be taken apart and moved if necessary (and it might very well be, as utilities and other upgrades come to the park in the future). The idea of a pump track is to not pedal. You “pump” your bike to gain speed and try to stay as smooth as possible. It’s a full-body workout that also helps improve your handling skills.

Here’s Friends of Gateway Green Board Member Will Heiberg giving it a go…

And a few more images for good measure…

Gateway Green Dirt Lab sneak peek-1.jpg

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Next to the pump track will be another area to try new things and/or sharpen existing skills. Many tons of dirt have been moved to create an incline that gives riders a choose-your-own-adventure type of experience. It’s not quite completed yet, but you’ll be able to choose from a rock garden, drop-offs of different heights, or wooden whoop-de-dos.

Here’s a shot of the ramps. Keep in mind they aren’t in place yet…

Gateway Green Dirt Lab sneak peek-6.jpg

Then there’s the jump line. This is for the big dogs — or the little dogs with guts of steel and skills to match. Starting from the hillside in the southern end of the park, riders will roll into the first jump and then have the option of “hitting” four more jumps in succession followed by a tall “wall-ride” feature at the end that will lead back onto the main gravel road that bisects the park.

Here’s a look at the jump line…

Gateway Green Dirt Lab sneak peek-9.jpg

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Gateway Green Dirt Lab sneak peek-10.jpg

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Moving south above the jump line is a winding trail that leads down from the highest point in the park. The idea here will be to pedal up the gravel road and then descend down this singletrack trail. Eventually there will be more downhill features added to this hillside — such as a slalom course that will likely have flyovers to not cross the existing trail.

Gateway Green Dirt Lab sneak peek-15.jpg

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Gateway Green Dirt Lab sneak peek-19.jpg

The hillside trail leads into the rest of the park and makes a nice connection to my favorite section: the forested singletrack.

Just a short time ago, the wooded section of this formerly vacant and neglected site was overgrown with invasives and full of trash. With countless hours of volunteer labor, the Friends of Gateway Green, the NW Trail Alliance, and all their partners have reclaimed this urban forest and turned it into a trail-riding heaven.

This eastern edge of the park has three distinct lines: the “fence line” at the top; the “cliff line” in the middle, and the “toe line” which runs adjacent to the gravel road at the bottom. Rotvik told me yesterday that the Portland Parks Bureau considers all the trails built so far at Gateway Green to be for bicycle use only (that means no hiking) and they are uni-directional. Once signs are installed, riders will be pointed in a specific direction in order to avoid head-on interactions.

Imagine flowing through this shaded singletrack on a hot summer day…

Gateway Green Dirt Lab sneak peek-21.jpg

Gateway Green Dirt Lab sneak peek-23.jpg

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Gateway Green Dirt Lab sneak peek-37.jpg

With the forest trails, the trail down the hillside, and what’s known as “Ted’s Traverse” in the northern section of the park — there are two total miles of singletrack to ride at Gateway Green. With a few laps and repeats (depending on your skill and speed level), you should be able to ride for 45 minutes to an hour and still be entertained. Given that biking to the park will be popular and encouraged, it’s easy to imagine adding another hour or of time to get to-and-from neighborhoods closer to the central city. I’ve mapped out several routes from north Portland that take anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour.

I hope you’re as excited as I am about all this. If you are, please make sure to attend the Gathering at Gateway Green next Saturday June 24th from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Let’s show all the people who’ve worked so hard the past 10 years to make this a reality how much we appreciate them — and how much we support this park.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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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

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monkeysee
Guest
monkeysee

My kid is amped! I can’t believe its gonna be a thing after all these years.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

This looks awesome. Great job NWTA and all others in getting this done (in addition to your coverage Jonathan)!

My only critique (sorry) is: Why can’t we have uphill single track in the Portland area! Climbing up gravel roads (or paved road like Sandy Ridge) is so lame. Single direction trails are the way to go in a park like this that will likely be busy, but I just really miss any type of technical uphill sections.

Can’t wait to ride down the 205 path and try this out!

Jason VH
Guest

There are uphill sections in the wooded area. There simply isn’t that much in terms of elevation on the site.

That said, the “downhill” single track on the open area was originally intended to be a climbing trail. Once the DIrtLab project reaches phase II, it could potentially revert back to use as a climbing trail with more technical sections and flow lines built to descend.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

Thanks. That’s great to hear.

Adam
Subscriber

Looks like fun. I don’t have a mountain bike; are there any places nearby where I could rent one?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Not a ton of options close by. Did you check Spinlister?

Alex
Guest
Alex

Yes – I believe fat tire farm lets you rent them. Sometimes other shops will have demos you can rent as well. Also, there are demo days (one coming up on Sunday) at Sandy, if you can make it out there.

rick
Guest
rick

Joe Bike ?

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

Pretty sure they don’t do mtbs.

Snowden
Guest
Snowden

There will be demo bikes at The Gathering on the 24th, so come on out! I’m not sure about MTB rentals in the area.

dwk
Guest
dwk

Ride your Dutch bike there, do a few downhills,(they look fun and disable on any bike),
walk up if you must, and you might find that you enjoy riding a bicycle…..

Adam
Subscriber

The Dutch bike is probably too upright to get fine enough steering control for single track. Could be fun on the Brompton though. 🙂

Charley
Guest
Charley

I haven’t tried it, but I bet it’s doable, if you’re used to riding with that geometry already. Giver ‘er a go!

Alex Drexler
Guest
Alex Drexler

River City Bicycles rents hardtails

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

This is great!!!! I’ll be a frequent rider here. One can connect the ‘trails’ at rocky butte and make a longer loop, as well as splice together some mixed surface riding along the golf course for a longer loop. This park will be fantastic for the East Portland community. It is not a panacea however, for all of the riding needs in Portland. Many miles of trail still exist on the west side that are verboden for bikes.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

Yes, I kind of worry that Parks will use this as a “see you have mountain bike trails” argument and shut down future trails.

rick
Guest
rick

I hope not. Biketown had changed transportation. Perhaps this convenient mtb park will change things, too.

Charley
Guest
Charley

I think that’s *possible*. Here are two other more fruitful possibilities:

1. Parks could say: “Wow, those mountain bike trails at Gateway are well-loved, well-maintained, and ecologically appropriate in the regenerating urban forest environment!”

2. Parks could also be saying, ten years from now: “There are now so many kids and adults riding [because of incremental increases in access and especially local trails that are easy to learn on, like Gateway] we can’t deny them Forest Park forever!”

I think this project is awesome, and its value alone far outweighs the small possibility that the anti-mtb forces will use its existence to push back on access elsewhere. They can try, but with great parks like this, there eventually won’t be anyone left in Portland who isn’t riding (or doesn’t know anyone who rides). This is for the kids and the next generation of kids; this is how we get them up off the computer and outside in nature. This park is how we make environmentalists out of couch potatoes. Heck, yeah.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

I think I would share more of your optimism if Fritz wasn’t in charge of parks. But I hope you’re right.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

It doesn’t help that Marcy Houle has been able to get away with defining FP as a “wilderness preserve”, even if it isn’t true. If she can repeatedly call it a “wilderness preserve”, then it becomes Wilderness in people’s minds, and everybody knows you can’t ride bikes in Wilderness because…..well, because you can’t!

Fred Trampler
Guest
Fred Trampler

cant wait to see if my derestricted E-bike can turn those rollers into whoops.

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

Best troll I’ve seen all day.

Fred Trampler
Guest
Fred Trampler

Why don’t you take a picture it’ll last longer!

JP
Guest
JP

So excited about this! In addition to getting my MTB and cross skills up to snuff, this is going to be great for the kids in my neighborhood (Sumner – a mile away). Stoked!

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

I am concerned that with Fritz still in charge of parks that once it opens the homeless problem will come right back. Has the city announced anything in regards to a plan to keep the park clean and usable? I really have no desire to mountain bike through used syringes/broken beer bottles.

Scooter
Guest
Scooter

Enough rider will be around that the homeless will stay away.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

I think that is optimistic, and if the plan is to just cross their fingers and hope that there won’t be an issue I think that will be inadequate.

dan
Guest
dan

I think the plan should be to vote Fritz out of office at the next opportunity, but then I have felt that was clear for the last two elections and it seems like I am in the minority.

Adam
Subscriber

Can’t really vote her out of office if no one viable runs against her.

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

Truer words….

We really need a good candidate to run against her – and it wouldn’t take much. The last batch of candidates that ran against her was not good…I would have loved to vote against her (I didn’t end up voting for that position), but I just couldn’t do it.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

I thoguht Ann Sanderson was a pretty good candidate, she just got in the race way too late to have much of an impact. At minimum she was a least an eastsider.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

I’ll contribute $10 to the Adam H campaign!

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

I’ll contribute double to whoever is running a against him.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

Can’t say that idea worked particularly well on the Springwater.

Snowden
Guest
Snowden

Pretty sure the plan is to keep the perimeter fence up for the time being.

Alex
Guest
Alex

This is great. I am looking forward to checking it out. Stoked to see this come to fruition. Good work and it speaks volumes for mountain bikers in regards to how many years were put into this. Now if only we can get some of mileage back lost to the RVNA debacle.

Jim Labbe
Subscriber
Jim Labbe

Very cool. The project is far from done but we should take a moment and thank the board of Friends of Gateway Green for their tireless work on this project. We should also thank the generous donations from the community that raised over $200K through two crowd funds. And we thank the voters who passed the 2006 Metro Natural Areas Bond Measure and the Metro Council who pledged up to $1 million in grant funds that will be a major source of total project funding. We should also thank local park advocates like the East Portland Parks Coalition and Audubon Society of Portland who have made sure park system development charges (SDCs) cover at least some of the growth-related burden on Portland parks system. Without those SDC funds, Portland would not have another big chunk of the total funding for the Gateway Green Project.

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

I hope you start supporting FP and RVNA access instead of pushing cyclists into the most polluted zones in the city.

Jim Labbe
Subscriber
Jim Labbe

Alex… this argument gets repeated over and over without examination, often by those with a political agenda completely unrelated to concerns air quality or human health.

Are we going to only invest in parks and bike infrastructure in affluent communities with clean air?

But wait…. Traffic Related Air Quality (TRAQ) is over 15% worse along East Bank Esplanade on the inner East Side (http://map.treesandhealth.org). So if we are willing to spend $30 million on the East Bank Esplanade where air quality is worse, what exactly is the justifiable air quality argument against spending 1/6 that amount for a new bike park and greenspace in park-deficient Gateway?

Over the long-term TRAQ is declining in urban areas and along I-205. Air quality conditions along I-205 will continue to improve with as cleaner automobile fuels become ever more widely used (https://www3.epa.gov/ttn/chief/conference/ei21/session7/mcdonald_pres.pdf). In addition, research also shown that roadside trees and vegetation planned for the Gateway Green project and recently planted elsewhere along the I-205 multi-use path will help reduce traffic-related air pollutants along the roadway.(http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/nearroadway.htm#content1).

I have no doubt that Gateway Green will be a human health plus for East Portland. It will most certainly be no worse for human health than any number of park and bike infrastructure projects we regularly build in areas with worse air quality.

But unfortunately I also have no doubt, that despite the facts, those with a political ax to grind will continue to make this bogus air-quality argument against the improvements at Gateway Green.

rick
Guest
rick

Let us put a cap over freeways with some kind of moss and sequoia tree “net” for the pollution !

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

I noticed you only addressed half of his comment.

Alex
Guest
Alex

You ignored my point. Lots of words, not a ton of substance.

Mike 2
Guest
Mike 2

What exactly is your point? That Jim was wrong to suggest we thank the people who worked so hard to create a new bike park in Portland? Why – because you don’t get to ride wherever you want in FP?

Is it really such a bad thing that this vacant land was finally put to good use?

I’m not suggesting that opening this park was easy – but I will gladly take a win once in a while during the long drawn out battle that is cycling access in FP or RVNA.

We can use the opportunity to celebrate this achievement – or we can bitch about other things.

Alex
Guest
Alex

My point is that Jim only promotes things where he wants to promote them, while acting liking he supportings mtbing in general – he doesn’t. Did I say anything about riding anywhere I want in FP? This response speaks volumes about your response and how far you take things to an extreme.

If you read my responses in other places here, I say this is a great thing. I never said anything in this thread about it being bad. You are inferring that and putting words in my mouth – please stop that.

I accept this as a long, hard win. Read my other comments and don’t take what I say out of context. K. Thx.

Jim Labbe
Subscriber
Jim Labbe

Well this is a story about Gateway Green and you suggested wrongly that it was particularly unsafe for cyclists. That’s the point I wanted to respond to and I think it speaks of itself… but it does always takes a few more words and details to dispel a deceivingly simple myth that uses misleading assumptions about a place (in this case East Portland) to gain a undeserved credence.

Alex
Guest
Alex

No, I didn’t suggest it was particularly unsafe for cyclists. It is not great for anyone and most of the statements you say could be said for the east side esplanade. This response and your response before is just as disingenuous as what I have heard from you in the past.

Jim Labbe
Subscriber
Jim Labbe

Are you going to the celebration? Maybe we can chat there.

Jim Labbe
Subscriber
Jim Labbe

I am not sure what you have “heard from me in the past.” Obviously I can’t respond to something that vague. But I obviously don’t agree “it is not great for anyone” if you mean Gateway Green. If you are going to the celebration (which may not be likely) I’d be happy to talk in person there.

Alex
Guest
Alex

If you search in the archives for you name, I am sure you can come up with many examples. We have also spoken in the comments in the past.

I do not believe I will be at gateway green opening, unfortunately.

dwk
Guest
dwk

Every once in while, Portland seems cool again…

rick
Guest
rick

So cool.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Can’t wait for my son and I to “ride to where we ride.” We can ride to the MAX, hop on, and head out for some laps. So much better than driving for an hour to Hood River on I-84. Stoked! In addition to those already mentioned, I’d like to give a shout out to Mr. Tom Archer. Thad dude has worked tirelessly over the last ten years from the mtb side of things to help the others make this happen. Thank you. You helped to make Portland a better city for all of us.

Mossby Pomegranate
Guest
Mossby Pomegranate

Will there be patrols to keep campers out?

Adam
Subscriber

I hope not. Last thing we need is more public spaces crawling with cops.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I would argue we need discarded needles even less, and a place that children can ride to without supervision even more.

dwk
Guest
dwk

We have public spaces crawling with cops?
Where?
If there are no patrols, there will be campers…

Adam
Subscriber

Have you ridden the MAX lately?

dwk
Guest
dwk

Yeah, I guess a couple of stabbing deaths might prompt a bit more security…
Those pesky cops trying to prevent murders…

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Is that where they all are? I’ve been wondering for years where the police have gone…

Adam
Subscriber

I saw six total at Elmonica the other day. They had all parked their cars on the sidewalk, of course. BTC usually has a few too. I’ve mostly just seen then harassing PoC’s and standing around looking important.

Mike 2
Guest
Mike 2

Huh. I wonder what could be the reason for an increased presence of police on the max….

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

In 2016, 44 people died in traffic crashes on streets and freeways in Portland. 2016 had the most total traffic deaths of any year since 2003. For comparison, every mode of travel saw increases in the number of traffic deaths compared to 2015. The 44 deaths involved:

20 people in cars or trucks
6 people on motorcycles
13 people walking
5 people riding bicycles

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/594747

Mike 2
Guest
Mike 2

OK…. so are you suggesting that there shouldn’t be police near the MAX despite the recent incidents?

Adam
Subscriber

I am suggesting that, yes. Governments often respond to tragedies by increasing police force and by eroding the freedoms of law-abiding citizens in the name of “security”. More police does not make a place safer, however. It often has the opposite effect.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I’m saying there has been an increase in traffic deaths in Portland over the past 2 years, and an upward trend over the past 8. Has there been an increased focus on policing our roads? If there has, I certainly can’t tell.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

There’s not an increase in focusing on policing anything in Portland. They’re short on man power.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Are they? It’s an honest question….I don’t know if staffing has gone down, or if they are all located ‘elsewhere’.

Adam
Subscriber

There’s not an increase in focusing on policing anything in Portland.

Except teargassing peaceful protesters, apparently.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2017/05/post_594.html

“The bureau is struggling with a staffing shortage. There are 58 officer vacancies in the bureau, authorized to have 950 officers. Fifty sworn officers also are eligible to retire now, with another 44 by the end of 2017.”

http://katu.com/news/local/portland-police-shortages-put-pressure-on-remaining-officers

“”We have a patrol staffing level that is required that is 370 officers. That’s the minimum level of staffing we should have out there. Right now our current patrol staffing is 330 officers,” Hales said.
Portland is short 60 officers and the gap is growing, meaning many officers are pulling double or even triple duty.”

This has been true for the last couple of year (which seems to overlap with the period you’ve seen the increase in traffic deaths).

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

https://www.adn.com/nation-world/2017/06/05/images-of-knives-brass-knuckles-bricks-show-viciousness-of-portland-protests/

I don’t know if “peaceful” would accurately describe the protesting we’ve seen lately.

brian
Guest
brian

Buff and flowy!

TR
Guest
TR

A tiny expensive pumptrack, slippery-when-wet wooden take-offs for dirt tabletop jumps(why?!), and gravel trails with very mellow grade and few features. Perfect for Portland.

Snowden
Guest
Snowden

TR – A tiny expensive pumptrack, slippery-when-wet wooden take-offs for dirt tabletop jumps(why?!), and gravel trails with very mello…

The pre-fab pumptrack was purchased for a variety of reasons – 1) modular and portable – can be moved or expanded as the park grows 2) concrete is all-weather and can be ridden in wet conditions 3) little or no maintenance. Anyone who has maintained a public pumptrack can tell you it a dirt track requires constant maintenance and is a headache.

Wooden Take-offs 1) The surface is pretty rough, so I don’t suspect that will be a problem. Jumps probably won’t be ridden when it is wet anyway (landings are dirt), so that shouldn’t be an issue. 2) Pre-manufactured ramps reduce liability for PP&R and made it easier for them to get comfortable with this element of the park 3) Low maintenance (lips don’t require constant shaping)!

The surface of the trails have been “fortified” with rock, to stabilize the tread and make the trails rideable in all conditions. The rock will eventually settle into the surface and won’t ride like a gravel path, if that is what you’re suggesting. And this is also intended to be low maintenance (see a pattern here?)

As for trail grades – yes the current trails are designed to be accessible for beginner/intermediate riders. More advanced “gravity” oriented trails are planned for the south hill in the future.

Please come out to the Gathering this Saturday and see for yourself.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Love the photos! Esp. with little pink helmet. 🙂

Kate
Guest
Kate

I am so excited for this to open up! It is going to be awesome having a weeknight option for a few quick laps that doesn’t involve driving out of town. I participated in some of the trail building events and it was really cool to meet the trail designers and learn a bit about constructing trails to drain and flow, etc.

Bummed to miss the grand opening but super excited to take advantage down the road. My only sadness is the pump track looks small enough to only accommodate 2 or so riders at once. As an adult, I’m probably gonna have to be the, er… bigger person and let the kids have run of it. ;/

Eric Porter
Guest
Eric Porter

This is going to be so great. I bought a house in the area last year, and part of the reasoning was proximity to this park. I’m a mile away straight-line, but 2.5 by bike. It’ll be even better once it can be accessed from the west side of I-205 from Tillamook or similar. The Halsey overpass is bad, and riding over I-205 at Glisan isn’t much better. All good things in time.