Off-road bike trails now firmly in plans for Rose City Park and golf course

One of the potential new trails would connect to this sidewalk at the southwest corner of McDaniel High School.
(Source: Portland Parks)

A lot has changed in just two months with the outlook of a major off-road trail project in northeast Portland. When we first reported on the Rose City Recreational Trail Project on May 3rd, we said the $4 million project, “Won’t be built with bicycle riding in mind.” That was based on a Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) survey and slide presentation that failed to even mention bicycling as a visitor option or project goal, and staff who replied with, “We’re not sure yet,” when asked about the potential for bike trails at the first public meeting.

Now it’s clear PP&R has heard concerns from Portlanders who want better urban off-road bicycling options.

At a meeting with the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) last night, Parks project managers acknowledged missteps in how the project was first presented to the community and said bicycling access to new trails is now firmly part of the plans. For a project that was initially framed as only including walking trails, it’s an important turnaround that bodes well for future Parks projects — and it validates the Off-Road Cycling Master Plan which recommends bike trails at this and many other urban parks around Portland.

(Source: Portland Parks)

At the BAC meeting last night, PP&R Project Manager Johnny Fain said they’ve completed initial site investigations at are now in the 30% schematic design phase while they continue to seek feedback from interested parties and prep for trail construction in 2026. Fain laid out the latest concepts for the three potential new trail segments that will be built in Rose City Park and Rose City Golf Course.

The “Primary Trail” would span the entire width of the parcel between NE 62nd Drive and the southwest corner of McDaniel High School on NE 82nd Ave. (Note: All trails would be natural surface, unpaved surfaces.) The alignment would cut through Rose City Park and then run along the southern edge of the golf course and NE Tillamook St.

Based in part on feedback they’ve heard from students at McDaniel who want a safe way to bike to school, PP&R plans to connect the eastern terminus of the trail directly to the sidewalk at the high school.

The “Green Bluff Trail & 72nd Connector” would split from the Primary Trail in Rose City Park near NE 62nd Dr and then run up the ridge onto the existing bluff trail along NE Sacramento Street where it would connect to a neighborhood greenway and safe route to McDaniel. It would also connect to 72nd Drive to create north-south access adjacent to the existing 70s greenway route.

Fain said he plans to meet on NE 72nd with “a bunch of folks from the cycling community” (probably members of NW Trail Alliance, who’ve been engaged with Parks on this project since May) tomorrow (Thursday, 7/11) at 4:00 pm. “We’re going to walk the site and get the cycling folks’ input on what they think we can do with this section of the sidewalk,” Fain said, referring to the existing dirt walkway adjacent to the paved road that bisects the park. “We’ve heard from a lot of people that even though PBOT has made a pedestrian-only lane here on the paved section, that a lot of folks would like to walk separately from bikers, or that even bikers would rather have a component of it be off-road. So we’re looking into those options, and we’d love to hear from you guys about that,” Fain added.

The “Yellow Back Nine Nature Trail” would access the northeast corner of the golf course. There would be a standard trail along the edge of the park as well as a “nature trail or single track hiking trail” (dashed yellow in graphic) that would dive down into the golf course through a stand of Douglas Fir trees.

“We’re thinking of that as more of a single, two-to-three foot wide natural surface pathway for walkers,” Fain said. “It could be for cyclists as well but what we’ve heard is a lot of the walkers would like to use that as a way to get away from cars.”

During discussion of the concepts, BAC member David Stein expressed his concerns about how Parks left cycling out of these plans initially (and then did it again with a survey released for a different park just last week).

Parks Community Engagement Coordinator Jenna Stathopoulos said the initial survey was meant to be generic (it wasn’t, it included several specific potential activities, but not cycling) and that if they missed something, people could write it in the “other” box. She also said she was trying to “balance and be mindful of not serving people about things that are not possible in a project.” But in the end she told Stein, “You’re right, to have it explicitly laid out or not on the survey, I guess, does make a statement. We could be doing a better job of balancing those things.”

Project presentation slides show a very important change since April.

And Fain, the project manager, said he’s an “avid cyclist” and that, “the omission of cycling was an oversight on my part.” Then he added, “I’m trying to correct that within this project.” It was notable to me how Fain mentioned the project was initially handed to him, “as a pedestrian project,” suggesting that this entire kerfuffle originated from the manager level.

“It has been a process, and I do apologize for it being clunky, and I’m going to be better in the future,” Fain said. “But just know that there’s never been an anti-cycling thing from the beginning. That has literally never been our intention. I just want you to know that.”

Regardless of what happened at the outset, things have changed for the better and now this project is on track to fairly consider the inclusion of cycling access — just as our adopted city policies require. Stay tuned for another survey and other outreach opportunities. If you want to show up Thursday at 4:00 pm for the cycling-specific site visit on NE 72nd Drive, Fain said everyone is welcome.

Rose City Recreational Trail Project website

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Carrie
Carrie
12 days ago

Fain said he plans to meet on NE 72nd with “a bunch of folks from the cycling community” tomorrow (Thursday, 7/11) at 4:00 pm.

Noting that at least this [former] member of the ORCMP committee wasn’t informed of this event through direct outreach. The City has all of our contact info – it would be a pretty simple email invite. Makes me really curious as to who “the folks from the cycling community” are, the demographics, and how/when the outreach happened. There’s a lot to say about the ORCMP committee demographics and process, but there was at least an attempt to diversify the makeup and viewpoints.

Carrie
Carrie
12 days ago

Then it should explicitly say “meeting with the NWTA” rather than implying it’s a cross-section of ‘folks from the cycling community’. Especially because it feels like this is a public comment opportunity and, as much as I love our cycling advocacy community, it’s one thing to have a ride along with them and another to get true public input. OR get input from a group who were pretty vested in the process years ago.

Paul H
12 days ago

Thanks for following up on this. Fantastic reporting and great news!

Nick
Nick
12 days ago

Would be nice if there was one East-West through the middle of the golf course (which is land owned by the city and operated by a for profit company for the exclusive benefit of people wealthy enough to golf) so at least one of the routes would get you away from cars and the road.

Stephen Pulse
Stephen Pulse
11 days ago
Reply to  Nick

That’s so you don’t get hit by one of Thurston Howell III’s errant golf shots Lovey. Here’s an idea, bike registration and licensing with associated fees to pay for all the uneccessay and confusing lanes and signs that are seldom used in this city.

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alex
alex
11 days ago
Reply to  Stephen Pulse

Registration for bikes doesn’t make sense – it’s been shown to be money losing basically everywhere and when it has been implemented, everyone hates it. And fwiw, they started taxing bikes a few years ago at time of purchase (which imo is dumb for many reasons). I would think we would want to encourage cycling – that would make for less overall car traffic and better infrastructure, instead of discouraging it. Repeating failed experiments over and over doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. And also fwiw, the fee when buying a bike in Oregon is the same as in Honolulu where bike registration is required without as much bureaucracy. If we start taxing everything on a per-use basis, we are going to be nickeled and dimed and paying even more taxes with a lot more administration around it. Fees aren’t free. I find it funny that the same people who argue for small government also make augments like this (not saying you do, I dont know know, but this is often a more right-leaning argument).

If you want truly want to get rid of “uneccessay and confusing lanes and signs that are seldom used in this city”, then hopefully you support separate infrastructure. It makes a lot more sense than just adding fees that have been shown to lose money time and again.

qqq
qqq
11 days ago
Reply to  Stephen Pulse

Yeah! Bikes should pay their own way like golfers do. You don’t see any tax money going to public golf courses!

Tim
Tim
9 days ago
Reply to  Nick

This isn’t some private golf course for elites. This is a public course used by people that have probably invested less in the sport than the average mountain biker.

Basiluzzo
Basiluzzo
12 days ago

Just don’t mention this to Mingus Mapps … he’s been known to unilaterally cancel things … !

Jeremy
Jeremy
12 days ago
Reply to  Basiluzzo

He’s not in charge of anything anymore!

Watts
Watts
11 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy

And now, finally, with city council out of the business of managing the bureaus (just like they were for the first year of Wheeler’s administration) we can get stuff done. With only 3 votes needed to make a decision, I expect big things in the coming months!

Esther Harlow
Esther Harlow
12 days ago

Another helpful connection would be from the roundabout/parking at McDaniel (NE Alameda @ ~78th) to the yellow trail.

That could create a much safter walking/biking connection to Glenhaven Park and Gregory Heights Library from the Madison South neighborhood (between McDaniel and 84) that isn’t 82nd or half a mile away on 72nd.

For the Roseway neighborhood on top of the hill that would offer a safer connection to our neighborhood elementary, Jason Lee at 92nd and Eugene.

NMB
NMB
11 days ago
Reply to  Esther Harlow

That would be awesome. There is currently no way for the public to get from south of McDaniel to Glenhaven/Roseway without taking 72nd or 82nd – either feeling unsafe on 82nd or going significantly out of the way to 72nd. From the image it looks like the path/trail would only go through the golf course so you’d still be getting routed from 80th/Thompson all the way to 72nd in order to make it up to the top of the ridge. I’d regularly walk/bike from the east across 82nd & Thompson and take a route behind McDaniel if that was an option!! And it would be another route for McDaniel students, Lee students, and Roseway Heights students who all have to navigate 82nd regularly!

MontyP
MontyP
12 days ago

I’m looking forward to seeing this space turn into something that the whole neighborhood can use, without having to play golf. So far this space only anctivates like that on snow days when everyone’s out on the greens XC skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, and just having fun playing in the snow.

Bikes and trails are a great combo, let’s add in a pump track, too. Just head over to Gateway Green on a weekend and you’ll be amazed at how many kids are endlessly riding the pump track there. Pump tracks should become part of the “standard” park treatment, they’re that great. Surely there’s room for one here!

Francisco
Francisco
11 days ago

Great news for Rose City Park! This project is yet another contrast with outer NE Portland. I wish Glendoveer Golf Course was managed by Portland Parks and Recreation instead of Metro Regional Parks.

Imagine the possibilities if a plan like this was developed for Glendoveer!

Charley
Charley
10 days ago

Great news!

I think this can be a proof of principal that people who aren’t even “mountain bikers” can use and enjoy fun, natural surface trails in our urban parks.

I think one problem we’ve had in the past is that “mountain biking” conjures up images of strong riders, riding down steep, technical trails in truly wild areas, on expensive bikes.

If that’s the imagery, it can be hard for land managers to envision how it’s possible to make useful, fun trails in small, flat areas. They may also have trouble seeing why they should spend time and money to add this kind of facility for the kind of user that first comes to mind: very athletic, very privileged.

The reality is that lots of kids enjoy riding around the neighborhood on their fat-tire bikes (even from big-box stores). They’d probably enjoy sneaking in some dirt riding. So would any adults, too!

MontyP
MontyP
10 days ago
Reply to  Charley

Go check out Gateway Green, if you haven’t already! It’s an island in a sea of highways, and a pain to walk to, so it’s a bit isolated from close neighborhood/pedestrian traffic, but I still see a lot of dog walkers and families with little kids. There are big jump lines, but also nice trails through the woods. Imagine how busy (and appreciated) GG-type trails would be in an area surrounded by neighborhoods with actual access!