for a work party yesterday.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Yesterday I rolled out to southwest Portland to get a closer look at the Riverview property — and I am now even more optimistic about its potential as a riding area. Riverview could become what is now major missing element of Portland’s bicycling ecosystem — a fun place to ride singletrack that doesn’t require two hours of driving.
The City of Portland purchased the 146 acre parcel from Riverview Cemetery back in May. The property is in a heavily wooded area bordered by Lewis & Clark College (to the south), the cemetery (to the north), Highway 43 (to the east), and SW Palatine Hill Road (to the west). For years, the land has been used by nearby residents, Lewis & Clark College students, people without homes, and people who weren’t afraid to ride their mountain bikes on the technical, steep, and private trails (thankfully, trespassing laws were never enforced by the owners).
Now that it’s owned by the City, Riverview is no longer a secret.
Portland Parks hosted a trail work party yesterday as part of an effort to stabilize and clean-up the area while a formal recreation/trail plan is drafted. About two dozen volunteers showed up and most of them were rounded up by the Northwest Trail Alliance, a non-profit group that has worked for years to improve local riding opportunities. Portland Parks staffer Jeff Hough led the work party. He said their goal was to clean out a culvert near a creek down near Highway 43.
“As more people find out about these trails, there are more users,” Hough told the crew. “Our goal is to make the existing trails more sustainable before there’s too much erosion.”
Before everyone showed up for the work party, I did some exploring of the trails on my mountain bike. The descent from top to bottom was steep, challenging, and fun. The trail snakes and swoops between trees and roots. At the bottom, I climbed back up on a different trail. The ascent provided another kind of challenge (one without as much oxygen!). Once near the top I traversed trails that took me south on a narrow ridgeline that crossed a flowing creek (via some old logs strewn over it) and then popped out at a parking lot for Lewis & Clark College. As I rode, parts of the trail were completely overgrown with ivy and there were several spots that were full of trash and what looked clearly like former homeless encampments.
Despite this unpolished appearance, my first impression of the place was. Wow! I was at the trailhead in just 30 minutes from my office downtown (it’s a straight shot south on Terwilliger). Even in its very rough state, Riverview is already the best mountain biking in Portland. With more work parties and a more sustainable and well-built trail system, it could become even better. (The flat, upper section could provide some excellent trails for more novice riders.)
At just 146 acres, a few miles out of the city center, and with no TLC over the years, Riverview is certainly no Forest Park; but maximizing its potential would give citizens an exciting new place to hike and bike. It will be interesting to see how the politics and the planning of this new parcel evolve in the coming months (hopefully not years). Whatever happens, I’m confident that people who want to ride mountain bikes on the trails will have a seat at the table and will be given an opportunity to keep these trails — and new ones yet to be built — accessible.