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


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…

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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…

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…

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.

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…

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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