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Luscher Farm trail plan would create off-road riding opportunities in Lake Oswego

Posted by on March 12th, 2019 at 1:10 pm

The 26-acre Brock property in Lake Oswego’s Luscher Farm Area, a picture perfect site for close-to-home trail riding.
(Photo: Chris Rotvik)

Story by former Northwest Trail Alliance President Chris Rotvik.

It’s 2020. Tucked away in a semi-wooded corner of the 148-acre Luscher Area in Lake Oswego is Farr Bike Park (just 10 miles south of Portland), with trails designed by local builder Chris Bernhardt. Riders, many of whom pedaled in on BMX bikes and dirt jumpers, drop in to one of four lines — beginner to black diamond — and punctuate each run with the fist-bumps and bonding that flow like trails in this segment of off-road cycling.

Luscher Farm Trail Plan Community Forum

March 21st, 6:00 to 8:00 pm at City of Lake Oswego Maintenance Center (17601 Pilkington Rd)

Each line makes use of the seven acre site’s natural slope, so pedaling becomes secondary to extracting the maximum fun (and skill progression) from the in-built technical features. These features run the gamut from widely-spaced, gentle rollers and berms with optional bridge and log rides on the green line, to the black line’s five-foot jumps, wall rides, aggressive drops, and rock pitches among frequent, large rollers, tables, and berms.

Soft-surface trails built with cycling in mind connect the bike park into Luscher’s larger multi-user network. At about two linear miles initially, that network is a rough match in distance to Gateway Green in east Portland, but rambles about on more than three times Gateway Green’s acreage. Riders of all ages — including many training for Oregon’s National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA)-affiliated race series for middle and high school students — hot lap their trail bikes on a circuit within the site’s easternmost Brock property, the most engaging in terms of terrain and user separation. Closer in to the amenities, families bike-stroll the trails alongside runners, walkers, and dogs.

It’s all part of an inspired vision. Rewinding back to now, Ivan Anderholm, Lake Oswego’s director of parks and recreation, sees the Luscher Area trails as the first of a set of bike-friendly segments throughout the city, all easily connected via short jaunts on pavement into a sizable circuit, drawing out residents and drawing in employers.

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Preliminary Farr Bike Park and Luscher Trails Concept, City of Lake Oswego.

Everyone gains from this investment, particularly our kids. Captivated by — and often captives of — their digital devices, kids are becoming less and less interested in the outdoors. According to one study by Seattle Children’s Research Institute (and there are many more stating similar results), youth aged 10 to 16 spend just 13 minutes a day in outdoor activities. This lack of contact with the outdoors hurts their physical and mental health, sense of well-being, academic performance, and respect for the environment.

We need to give them more urban recreation opportunities. Despite the rarity of suitable trails close to home, mountain biking and BMX have grown significantly in terms of participation nationwide — about 25 percent since 2007. Over the same period, traditional ball sports have declined as much as 38 percent. Now, mountain biking and BMX, taken together, matches soccer in popularity, ranks above softball and football, and lags only slightly behind basketball and baseball.

Unfortunately, reminiscent of Portland’s tempestuous relationship with off-road cycling, there’s a “not in my farmyard” reaction taking place among a few folks who use the historic core of the parcel — a mid-century dairy occupying 15 percent of Luscher’s total acreage — for community farming. This historic core is untouched by the bike park and trail plans, and those plans are consistent with the Luscher Area Master Plan.

Places like Luscher Farm are indeed precious, and are made even more so as they become more attractive to our children. Let’s share the harvest, instead of spoiling it.

Come join me for the final plan reveal and add your voice (non-residents are welcome) on March 21st at 6:00. Details are on the City of Lake Oswego website; if nothing else, please take the online survey.

— Chris Rotvik

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23 Comments
  • Avatar
    PDXCyclist March 12, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    Boy do they need a lesson in survey design. So many pointless questions on the first page that will unfortunately discourage completing the entire survey. It came off as not being particularly considerate towards people’s time.

    Regardless, I don’t mountain bike but I’m supportive of paths for all people doing all kinds of things. I also don’t skateboard but I get the feeling the skate park at Gabriel Park is a beloved resource by those who use it. More power to them. Same deal here. I’m also very in favor keeping parks or converting lands to park use. Thanks for this article. I wasn’t aware of this before your post.

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      David Hampsten March 12, 2019 at 4:58 pm

      My questions & comments about the survey:
      Questions 3, 4, &5: How is this information about kids and dogs useful?
      Question 7: In general most people have trouble estimating distance, so why ask?
      Questions 9-12: These are useless rhetorical questions that should be removed.

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    Alex Reedin, now in Albuquerque, NM March 12, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    This is a great plan! For people who have never heard of Luscher Farm, I encourage you to go ahead and look at Luscher Farm in Google Maps to get you excited enough to provide testimony to city council. The set of public land (Luscher Farm, Steven’s Meadow, Cook’s Butte) around there is lovely, and it’s an underused regional resource. And, with the nice set of MUPs in the area, locals could ride to their ride!

    Plus, maybe this is biased from someone who moved to New Mexico, but a mostly un-treed area to ride is nice. Around this time of year in Portland, I *definitely* used to choose my outdoor recreation destinations on nice days based on not having tree cover. Ahh, beautiful, beautiful sun….

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      KristenT March 15, 2019 at 10:16 am

      You can “ride to the ride” as long as you’re coming down Rosemont from the neighborhoods up that direction.

      Don’t try it from south of the roundabout where Stafford and Rosemont meet though, unless you like high-speed traffic and no shoulders and ravines to fall into. And watch out from the North, it’s signed 35 but local traffic drives much faster and again, no shoulders or bike lanes. I suppose one could ride through the Oswego cemetery for a bit or cut through the neighborhoods but you’ll still be dumped out onto Stafford with cars and trucks and no place to ride safely.

      To the rest of the story– I’m glad the property is being developed to encourage all kinds of active uses, it could become a real treasure for the area and may even spur some more active transportation development in the area.

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    stephen glazer March 13, 2019 at 9:14 am

    Wonderful effort to invest in the health and recreation opportunities in our community. Thank you to all involved in making this happen. I’ll be there on opening day!

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    I wear many hats March 13, 2019 at 10:36 am

    Thanks JM and Mr. Rotvik for publishing. This area needs more opportunities for outdoor recreation in the cities and suburbs.

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    Gary B March 13, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    This isn’t relevant at all, just a curiosity: When I look at the site, it appears to be (just) outside LO incorporated limits. But it’s an LO Parks project?

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      Chris Rotvik March 14, 2019 at 5:19 pm

      Gary, yes, it’s Lake Oswego Parks behind the project. The majority of the city-owned Luscher Area is located outside of the City of Lake Oswego limits, in unincorporated Clackamas County. Much is also located outside the urban growth boundary. It’s my understanding that over time, the Luscher Area will be brought into the city, which depends on expanding the urban growth boundary.

      Chris

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    Adam March 13, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    Slightly off-topic perhaps, but I am still livid that the Stafford/Rosemont Trail BANS BIKES once it leaves Luscher Farm property, and tells cyclists to ride on Rosemont Road in 55mph traffic with no shoulder.

    That is like the Springwater Trail banning bikes and diverting bike traffic on to Hwy 99.

    Ridiculous. Not to mention a lawsuit waiting to happen when a cyclist gets killed on Rosemont.

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      pdx2wheeler March 13, 2019 at 2:46 pm

      I moved to West Linn in 2016 and was immediately appalled that Stafford/Rosemont trail didn’t allow bikes and had signs posted to that affect. I immediately started to make a stink and contacted Joseph Marek from Clackamas County Department of Transportation and Development asking about that ban and having zero options available. Joseph informed me at that time, “the City of West Linn was working with the County to maintain the facility. The Rosemont Trail will be opened to bikes soon.”. I can confirm that the Stafford/Rosemont Trail DOES allow bikes now. I have it in writing from the Transportation Safety Program Manager.

      I had to eventually follow-up with the West Linn Transportation supervisor Jeff Randall to get the signs removed that read bikes were not allowed.

      I have all of this in writing, and I can guarantee you that bikes are now allowed on the Stafford / Rosemont trail and all the signs otherwise have been removed. Enjoy!

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        Adam March 13, 2019 at 6:11 pm

        Interesting!!

        There is STILL signage up as of about three weeks ago at the Stafford Trailhead saying “No Bikes”.

        If they are developing mtb trails at Luscher, it will be EXTRA important to have a safe link for families to access the site from the Marylhurst neighborhood.

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          Adam March 13, 2019 at 6:16 pm

          Addendum: On Google Maps, the trailhead I am referring to is listed as “Luscher Farms Trailhead”.

          It is the trailhead east of Luscher Farms where the Rosemont Trail gets super-squiggly and there is a small parking lot.

          About three weeks’ ago, there was DEFINITELY “No Bikes on Trail” signage still up at that trailhead.

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        abomb March 14, 2019 at 6:09 am

        Its just a sign. If its the safer route then take it. I live in the area and ride the path on a somewhat regular basis and have never had any trouble.

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          JJ March 14, 2019 at 7:29 am

          Agreed. Ride that path and stay off the lower end of Rosemont. Ignore those signs.

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      Natalie Bennon March 14, 2019 at 3:14 pm

      I would check on this. I thought I heard that this had changed.

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    Ron Swaren March 13, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    I’ll bet there are a lot of suburban byways where you could fit in some sort of trail. It doesn’t take much volume or width. I would think some through the west hills (yes, through parks) utilizing elevated structures and switchbacks and built along some property lines or old, abandoned roads.

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    JJ March 14, 2019 at 7:38 am

    Another note on all of this..There are trails there now and do we really need dirt jumps and berms to start using that location for cycling? Just because the area isn’t groomed with jump lines and the like doesn’t mean it can’t be ridden it its’ current state. Give it a try. Very cross bike and XC bike ride’able right now. No one is there stopping us. In addition there are a bunch of places nearby to connect small bits of singletrack and trails too (i.e. Wilderness Park, Cooks Butte, Carriage Way Bandit Pump, Dollar Cutty Pump etc etc etc). There are trails all over our urban environment. Ride them. We don’t need permission nor politicians and bureaucrats to hand wring before they create some nerf’d environment to ride in. Ride your bike.

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      jered March 14, 2019 at 9:57 am

      YESSSSSS I like your style.
      Good excuse for me to take a SW exploro-ramble down that!

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        Alan Love March 14, 2019 at 11:24 am

        Lemme know when.

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    Natalie Bennon March 14, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    Dear Chris,

    Your post states, regarding the urban ag portion of Luscher Farm, “This historic core is untouched by the bike park and trail plans, and those plans are consistent with the Luscher Area Master Plan.”

    It is true that the historic farmhouse and ag lands at Luscher are not directly affected by the suggested plans for a bike park and bike trails. And thus it is possible a compromise could be reached that respects both user groups. However, it is untrue that the bike plans are consistent with the Luscher Area Master Plan. If the city moves forward with these bike trails, the master plan has to be amended and resubmitted to city council for approval. Denying this element is one reason local residents are irritated, even those who aren’t involved directly at Luscher Farm, such as myself. I’m not necessarily opposed to the bike paths/plans, but I do feel it’s important to respect the process, respect the significant amount of time and energy that went into the Luscher Farm Master Plan, and respect the plan itself.

    Moreover, alienating the Luscher Farm community, including the Friends of Luscher Farm group, is not going to help your cause.

    Thanks,
    Natalie Bennon
    LO Parks Board member

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      Chris Rotvik March 14, 2019 at 5:01 pm

      Natalie, thank you for the comment.

      Pages 31 and 44 of the 2013 Luscher Area Master Plan refer to “… places for walking, biking …” and “… hiking / biking (trails) …” yet provide nothing more specific. My various discussions with Lake Oswego parks staff and the parks board brought forward nothing in the master plan that delegitimizes the trail proposals now under consideration.

      There is no intent to obscure, deny, or disrespect any internal city processes or the work underlying the current Luscher Area Master Plan. That “… the master plan has to be amended and resubmitted to city council for approval” is well beyond the scope of this article. And of course, no master plan is evergreen.

      Alienating other citizens, be they practitioners of farming or cyclists, does not serve our best interest. What does serve is an open, respectful discussion of facts and perspectives.

      Thank you again,
      Chris

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        Natalie Bennon April 25, 2019 at 8:54 am

        Chris, the area proposed for the bike skills park, is it not designated in the master plan as a passive use neighborhood park? The master plan would have to be edited and reapproved by city council to reflect a change to this area.

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          Dan A April 25, 2019 at 9:12 am

          Walking, biking, bird watching, canoeing are passive recreation. Organized sports are active recreation.

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