A popular off-road riding area on Mt. Hood will be closed all summer.
Owners of Mt. Hood Skibowl wrote in a statement posted on their website that a, “recent unprecedented plaintiff verdict in a mountain biking lawsuit,” is the reason they’ve decided to suspend all mountain bike operations for summer 2022.
Here’s an excerpt from the statement:
“After 32 years without a serious mountain bike claim of any kind, the winds have shifted. Our industry has focused heavily on user education and operational best practices, while working hard toward mitigating risk where possible. Eliminating all risks with recreational activities—especially in downhill mountain biking through forests at high speed— is something that is just not possible.
Oregon ski area operators and other recreational outfitters are facing the enormously impactful challenge – recreational liability for activities that are inherently risky. Oregon has seen some significant lawsuits in recent years (now most recently hitting home at Mt. Hood Skibowl) with outcomes that make operating a small, recreational business in the state exceedingly challenging. Liability releases in Oregon currently offer recreation providers with practically little to no protection, and they are less effective as they are in neighboring states and others across the country, which allow for the use of liability waivers in recreational contexts.
Given the current legal landscape in Oregon, the future of Mountain Biking at Mt. Hood Skibowl remains uncertain while we work through the judicial process with hopes to find more effective ways of protection for offering these popular—albeit inherently risky—recreational activities.”
I’m still trying to find out more about the lawsuit that led to this decision.
In addition to lift-operated downhill runs and a variety of cross-country trails, Skibowl has also played host to the popular 6 Hours of Mt. Hood endurance race. That event is scheduled for June 26th this year and we’re awaiting to hear back from the organizer if it will be impacted by this decision.
UPDATE, 5/9: Learn more about the lawsuit in this story from The Oregonian.
UPDATE, 9:26 am on 5/9: Promoters of the 6 Hours of Mt. Hood race tell us they’ve gotten an exemption from the policy and will be able to hold their event in June. However, part of the course — the downhill section of the Gnar-Gnar Trail that’s been part of the solo course for the past several years — will remain off limits.
NOTE, 5:38 pm: This post has been edited from its original version after considering feedback in the comments below. Thanks – Jonathan.