northwest trail alliance
At the end of last month the Portland-based nonprofit Northwest Trail Alliance (NWTA) announced a groundbreaking partnership with Weyerhaeuser Company that opened up 3,100 acres of off-road riding just 14 miles from downtown. While still raw and relatively undeveloped, the Rocky Point Recreation Area is the best and most expansive place for mountain biking and gravel grinding that doesn’t require an hour-plus drive for Portland residents.
Since we posted our story at the end of July, NWTA’s lease has become effective and the group has released more information about how to access the area. In order to start riding and exploring out at Rocky Point, here’s what you need to know:
Portland-based nonprofit Northwest Trail Alliance has signed a lease agreement with Weyerhaeuser that allows them to manage nearly 3,000 acres of forested land between Highway 30 and Skyline Road just 15 miles north of Portland City Hall.
To put the size of the parcel into perspective, it’s roughly equivalent to a section of Forest Park between the Thurman gate in northwest Portland and the St. Johns Bridge.
This is literally and figuratively a very big deal.
Known as the Rocky Point parcel because it straddles Rocky Point Road, the land offers a trove of opportunities for both gravel and singletrack trail riding. The northern part of the property (about 20% of total land on the lease) is already a well-known spot for mountain biking with access via turnouts on Rocky Point Road; but the trails are informal, undeveloped — and due to forestry operations — access is often closed without warning.
[This is the second part of a two-part post from Northwest Trail Alliance President Chris Rotvik. Don’t miss Part 1, a recap of 2017.]
Almost 30 years ago, Theo Patterson spoke up to make sure mountain bikes weren’t banned from Forest Park. To help, Patterson founded Portland United Mountain Pedalers, or PUMP. In 2009, PUMP became Northwest Trail Alliance, and we turn 30 this year. With our Big Three-Oh looming, let’s glance back and gaze forward.
[We’re happy to publish a two-part article from Northwest Trail Alliance President Chris Rotvik. First, a recap of 2017. Then a look ahead to what’s in store this year.]
Throughout 2017, more than 1,700 mountain bikers — from shredders to striders — dropped in to Northwest Trail Alliance-hosted digging and riding events. And, all tolled, our volunteers carved a smidgen over 12,000 hours into our trails and the political arena that sustains the flow of riding in our region. Those hours equate to $360,000 of hard labor invested in elevating both our sport, and the tide on which our local cycling industry floats. Think of it as your membership and sponsorship currency, multiplied tenfold, and paid forward.
The urban scene captured the lion’s share of 2017’s effort. To date, we’ve brought forward more than 1,500 hours (and we’re not yet at the finish line) shaping Portland’s Off-Road Cycling Master Plan (ORCMP). Simultaneously, our expertise, labor, and equipment helped bring the Dirt Lab at Gateway Green — the prototype of how ORCMP will reshape our urban riding scene — to life.
Opened in late June, the Dirt Lab has reinvigorated riding and advocacy, and there’s much good yet to come of it— in Forest Park, River View Natural Area, Washington Park, and drizzled across the smaller parks in Portland. Icing that cake is our sweet partnership with Metro, who’ll soon be bringing delectable riding in the North Tualatin Mountains beyond Forest Park, in Oregon City, and in the Gabbert Buttes to the east of Portland.
So, after 30 years, the urban tide is turning. Are you out there, Theo Patterson?
Let’s step from the urban scene to our front-country venues: First, we wrote Stub Stewart State Park the equivalent of a $60,000 check in the form of 2,500 volunteer hours, the highest across all our sites (Gateway Green and Growler’s Gulch ranked second and third at 1,800 and 1,600 hours, respectively). At Stub, we put paid to two new bridges, two new coach-ready, skill-building loops, a significant trail re-route, and two riding events. Next, the trail gnomes of Southwest Washington topped the mileage charts by adding — with their usual surgical precision — another five miles of new line to the fabled Growler’s Gulch system. (Digging is your ticket to entry, so if you’d like to ride Growler’s magic carpet, sign up for the work parties … find them on nw-trail.org.)
Elsewhere in the region, we buffed-out the trails. And buffed some more, for a total of 1,900 hours of wax on, wax off at Sandy Ridge, St. Helens, Coldwater Lake, Scappoose, Tillamook, Lacamas, Cascade Locks, Eichler, Powell Butte, Hagg Lake, and Whipple Creek. That’s the equivalent of re-shaping and brushing seven hours a day, five days a week, year-round. Mister Miyagi would be proud.
OK, then. We’ve brought almost two thousand of our new best friends to the party, opened a bike park, gained significant urban mountain biking momentum, raised Stub and Growler’s yet another notch, kept Sandy Ridge a premier destination despite the onslaught of almost one hundred thousand gravity-fueled runs, and sustained 10 other regional riding destinations. Not bad, eh?
While 2017’s achievements just might be a high water mark for the organization, we’re already over it, aside from just one thing … our gratitude. If it weren’t for you — member, sponsor, volunteer — mountain biking in the region would be dirt poor. Thank you for all you do for our shared passion.
Oh, and 2018 promises to be a gangbuster. Care to join us?
— Chris Rotvik, President, Northwest Trail Alliance
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BikePortland needs your support.
This post was written by the Northwest Trail Allliance, a Portland-based nonprofit and a BikePortland supporter.
Portland’s Off-road Cycling Master Plan (ORCMP) is now in its final stage of development, the Draft Plan Phase. The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) is asking the public for feedback on the Draft, which will be incorporated into the Proposed Plan presented to City Council for adoption. As an off-road cyclist in Portland, this is an important opportunity for you to tell the City what you think about the Draft. If you want urban trails, now is the time to elevate your voice.
To assist, we’ve distilled the main elements of the Draft Plan as well as suggested areas of improvement that you may wish to include in your feedback to the City.
Key ORCMP Elements – By the Numbers
5.7 miles of natural surface, narrow to mid-width trails are currently open to cycling across the city.
[Note: This post was submitted by BikePortland Business Subscriber Northwest Trail Alliance through our Subscriber Post system. We think it deserves a wider reach so we’ve posted it here on the Front Page. Remember, if you are a subscriber you can also be a contributor! We would love to amplify your voice and share your experiences with a wider audience. Sign up here. – Jonathan]
Having a place to talk about bikes with other people who love bikes is an essential building block of successful advocacy. While opportunities to talk about urban and utility-oriented cycling abound in Portland, up until now there has not been a go-to place for those whose prefer their cycling to happen off-road.