It’s time to celebrate. Our regional planning agency, Metro, opens two new nature parks this month and both of them include off-road cycling trails!
The parks are Newell Creek Canyon Nature Park, just 15 miles south of Portland in Oregon City, and Chehalem Ridge Nature Park, which is 28 miles west of Portland and just 8 miles south of Forest Grove. Both of these parks were home to Indigenous people for thousands of years before settlers moved in and Metro has worked to restore the natural wildlife and ecosystems that have been lost over time, while balancing the need for public access.
Newell Creek Canyon Nature Park
Newell Creek opened Monday and offers 236-acres of forested land and a trail system with 2.5 miles of walking and hiking paths and nearly 2 miles of dedicated off-road cycling trails. As you can see in the map, bikes are allowed on five of the six trails in the park:
- Tumble Falls Trail (shared) .75 miles
- Cedar Grove Trail (shared) .5 miles
- Shady Lane Trail (bike only) .65 miles
- Red Soil Roller (bike only) .85 miles
- Heavy Nettle (bike only) .35 miles
Unfortunately, access to the park by bike isn’t great. The sole entrance (which features new restrooms and other amenities) is off of Mollala Avenue, a large arterial with no dedicated space for cycling. If you ride there, your best bet would be to take 5th Street out of downtown Oregon City which turns into Linn Ave (this is already a popular bike route with bike lanes). Then turn left (east) onto the bike lanes of Warner Milne Rd. This will take your right into the park’s main entrance.
Newell Creek looks beautiful and stands as an amazing testament to Metro’s dedication to environmental restoration. There’s even a bike rider (hi Will Cortez!) in the promo materials, so you know you’re welcome. Learn more about the park on Metro’s website.
Chehalem Ridge Nature Park
The new trails at Chehalem Ridge are a bit further away, but offer much more in terms of cycling potential. Not only does the newly restored, 1,200 acres of natural area offer nearly 10 miles of trails that are open to bicycle use (shared with hikers and/or horse riders), but the location is nestled adjacent to already popular road and gravel routes. Given the great access off SW Dixon Mill Road, I can see the trails at Chehalem Ridge becoming a very popular loop destination for gravel bikers from, Forest Grove, Washington County or even from Portland for more adventurous riders.
A quick check at the Strava heat map (above) of this part of Chehalem Ridge shows that some riders have already explored the area. Please note that Chehalem Ridge doesn’t officially open until this coming Monday, December 13th. Learn more about the park on Metro’s website.
As we plan new routes and enjoy these trails, please think of all the advocates, volunteers and agency staff who worked hard to plan and restore these areas for us to enjoy. Especially the nonprofit Northwest Trail Alliance who’s tracked the projects for many years. This continues a very positive working relationship between NWTA and Metro that was first solidified during planning of the North Tualatin Mountains trails in 2016.
Advocacy Director Andrew Jansky shared with us this morning that the NWTA has worked with Metro on these recent projects for about five years (you might recall when we shared their advocacy alert about it in June 2016). “NWTA helped bring awareness to the community about the off-road cycling opportunities, we educated our members about the public process and we got people to show up to open houses and share their voices. Participation of the cycling community was key to Metro’s inclusion of off-road cycling at these parks.”
Thank you everyone! Enjoy the parks!