This article was written and photographed by Jason Van Horn and it first appeared on his website, Bermstyle.
As a mountain biker living in Portland, one of the most exciting developments in the last few seasons is centered on the trail building activity near Scappoose, Oregon. Now known in mountain biking circles as the Rocky Point Recreation area, this trail system is located on private timber land and made available for mountain biking through a recreation-based lease to local mountain bike advocacy organization the Northwest Trail Alliance (NWTA).
Many of the trails in the area have been used by local riders for years, but logging removed a large portion of the routes. Then the trails were closed and access to the area became a gray area; limited to the few approved for a special use pass to access the area.
While many of the trails continued to be utilized and there was trail building activity, but users not on an exclusive lease were technically trespassing.
Finally, Trail Access For All (in good standing)
In the fall of 2019, the NWTA announced a groundbreaking partnership that would provide mountain biking recreation in the area for registered members. Through an agreement with the Weyerhaeuser Company, NWTA members in good standing have access to this growing network of trails. The land-use agreement is one of the biggest accomplishments in recent years for the club. Considering the sparse options for urban mountain biking in Portland, a significant investment is being made in the area, with volunteer trail builders donating thousands of volunteer hours into the trail system.
Portland, Oregon doesn’t have much in the way of mountain biking. Although the city houses the 7th largest urban park in the US, (Forest Park) cycling usage is restricted to natural surface roads, effectively banning mountain biking. That makes Rocky Point the closest legitimate mountain biking experience to Portland. Located 20 miles northwest of the city, mountain bikers on the west side can squeeze in an after work ride.
For comparison, Lacamas Park in Camas is 24.7 miles northeast of Portland; and while you could argue Powell Butte is the closest at 10.9 miles, in recent years the park trails have become rather unfriendly to mountain bikers, with the number of available single track dramatically reduced. Although we’ve ridden at Powell Butte for years, we tend to avoid it due to the growing user conflicts there.
Dig it, ride it
The best part of donating time swinging a shovel is riding fresh tracks directly afterwards — providing you’re not already wiped out from swinging tools all morning.
The trail experience at Rocky Point has already undergone a significant upgrade in the riding experience as connectivity between the North and South sides have been improved by a connector trail. And while the south side has generally been a personal favorite, it hasn’t always been very friendly towards less experienced riders. A number of new Blue Square/Intermediate rated routes have been added to the mix. In addition, some of the routes we used to only shuttle now feature climbing trails, providing more options for planning a ride.
The “old school” XC type trails are slowly being improved as well. One of the biggest issues with the heritage trails has been lack of consistency; a trail can go from a mile of rolling contour and then abruptly take you up a 20% grade, straight up a hill for no apparent reason.
A master plan is being put together now that should go a long way towards improving the network and the riding experiences.
Weekly Build Days are ongoing
Ongoing build days are happening regularly, so if you’re a Portland resident and want to check out this area, we recommend coming out for one. It’s the best way to network and meet new riders. Just remember to save a bit of energy so you can get on the trail and learn some of the route afterwards.
We also recommend joining the Northwest Trail Alliance. Dues-paying members officially receive access to the area after signing the online waiver, and it is an easy way to support the on-going efforts, even if you can’t donate personal time.
For more details on how to gain access to this riding area, check out the Rocky Point page on NW-Trail.org.
— Jason Van Horn
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