With roots as a mountain biker, I’ve been watching developments at Rocky Point with great interest. Like many of you, I almost gave up mountain biking altogether when I moved to Portland in 2004. I was spoiled living in Santa Barbara, California with amazing singletrack just a few miles from my front door. Since I don’t like to drive to ride, when I got to Portland and realized there were no interesting trails nearby, I just stopped mountain biking (except for a bit of racing and an occasional Forest Park foray).
I’ve covered the Rocky Point story closely since local nonprofit Northwest Trail Alliance signed their groundbreaking lease with Weyerhaeuser in July of last year. On Saturday I didn’t even intend to check it out. But as I spun my pedals northbound on Highway 30 about 16 miles north of my north Portland home, I found myself climbing up Rocky Point Road. At about mile 17 I saw a trail sign on a nearby gate, turned off the pavement, and started exploring.
Just an hour of riding from my backyard (not that much, relatively-speaking) I peered out onto breathtaking views of Multnomah Channel, rural Clark County, and the Cascades. I rambled around a bit on gravel service roads and eventually found a few trailheads. I know I should have had a map or the trails loaded on my GPS device, or maybe even a guide who knows the area, but riding blind has its own rewards. I went where whim led me.
The first trail I dropped in on was Nettle Alley, marked with a blue square to let me know it’s intermediate level. I was instantly having fun! The trail twisted and turned through beautiful stands of trees and undergrowth. Fresh trillium flowers, a swath of wood sorrel (not clover, as our smart commenters corrected me below), fantastic ferns. At one point I stopped next to a large seasonal pond (near Jones Creek) and listened to the sound of hundreds of croaking frogs. Then an eagle landed above me and the frogs went silent. Were they afraid of me or the eagle?
**Public Health Warning**
If you ride off-road during the COVID-19 outbreak, please use extreme caution and stay within your comfort zone. Any additional injuries will put a strain on hospital capacity.
About a mile of singletrack later I popped back out on a gravel road and found a fun double-track connector trail back to the main central parking area (which is new by the way, more on that in a separate story). I then crossed Rocky Point Road and got onto another gravel road that provides access to the majority of the riding area. I found my way onto a black diamond trail called Roller Coaster. It was a fun and challenging downhill trail full of whoops and tight, bermed corners that ended with two super-steep, rutted-out pitches at the bottom before delivering me back into the arms of the safe and wide gravel road.
I then rode back to Highway 30 and headed home (via Logie Trail Road, Rock Creek Road, Old Germantown, and Forest Park Firelane 10). It was my first foray to Rocky Point, I had no idea where I was riding, but I’m already excited to explore more of it.
The tool for the job
I’ve had several readers ask for more information about the bikes they see in my ride reports. The one I used on this ride is my all-road/gravel/mixed terrain machine made in Eugene, Oregon by Co-Motion Cycles. It’s their Klatch model made from Variwall “THERMLX” steel tubing. I’m running 650b Rolf Hyalite wheels with 42mm WTB Resolute tires and Full Metal Fenders from Portland Design Works, and wide 46 cm Salsa Cowbell handlebars. This is my go-to bike. It’s great on pavement and I can handle any local trail or steep fire-road with ease thanks to the 50/34 front chainrings paired with an 11-40 cassette.
Learn more about riding at Rocky Point at NW-Trail.org and on Trailforks. For a deeper look at two people working to make these trails great, don’t miss this article on Chris San Agustin and Julie Baird from Singletracks. And stay tuned later this week for a story about how these trails have led to massive growth of NWTA.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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