Columbia County will get another bicycling boost thanks to Travel Oregon and the City of St. Helens.
“We are considered to be part of the Portland region, but we don’t get as much attention as things around Portland. So this is really refreshing and a very good thing for us.”
— Karen Kane, Columbia County
In the hills just west of St. Helens about 37 miles north of downtown Portland, the county plans to develop about 30-40 miles of new unpaved roads for recreational use.
According to a statement from the County, the trails would be built on a 2,400 acre parcel (about half the size of Forest Park) of city-owned timber property known as the St. Helens Tree Farm. The parcels are located around Salmonberry Lake, a city-owned reservoir about seven miles west of Highway 30 on Pittsburgh Road. The vision for the land is to use half the property for motorized vehicles and the remainder for hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. The city also wants to develop a campground.
The cycling trails would be built by Christopher Bernhardt of Portland-based C2 Recreation Consulting, the same firm that has worked on many other sites in the region including Gateway Green and Sandy Ridge.
Columbia County has long sought the attention of Oregon’s statewide tourism board, but local leaders say they’ve often been overlooked. Now that’s beginning to change. Columbia County Director of Communications Karen Kane says, “Travel Oregon has really been focusing on this county. It’s been tough because we are considered to be part of the Portland region, but we don’t get as much attention as things around Portland. So this is really refreshing and a very good thing for us.”
BikePortland readers know that cycling in Columbia County is some of the best in the region. We’ve shared great rides in the past from the Crown-Zellerbach Trail, Bacona Road, Vernonia and well beyond.
So far there’s $20,000 available (thanks to Travel Oregon grants) for planning and development. The Columbia County Economic Team, a group looking to boost the County’s tourism appeal, plans to apply for larger grants through the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to further flesh out the project.
A Stakeholders Forum will be held at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, May 14th at the Columbia County Courthouse in St. Helens. This will be the first step in the creation of a comprehensive plan for the site.
Comments from groups and individuals are encouraged. Send them to Columbia County Parks Director Casey Garrett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you love riding in Columbia County as much as I do, and want to discover new roads and meet cool people, consider signing up for the Columbia Century Challenge. It starts and ends in Clatskanie on June 15th.
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