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New skills trail, major upgrades proposed for Sandy Ridge trailhead

New skills trail, major upgrades proposed for Sandy Ridge trailhead

Velo Cult's party-barge parked at Sandy Ridge after an event last month. A major expansion to the parking lot will feature more room for tailgating and other uses.(Photo: Velo Cult Bike Shop)

Velo Cult’s party-barge parked at Sandy Ridge after an event last month. A major expansion to the parking lot will feature more room for tailgating and other uses.
(Photo: Velo Cult Bike Shop)

Since they first opened in 2010, the off-road cycling trails at Sandy Ridge have become such a resounding success that the Bureau of Land Management wants to double-down on its investment.

According to environmental assessment documents filed by the BLM, their Sandy Ridge Trailhead Access project is comprised of a slew of additions and upgrades that will add over four acres to the facility. The project includes: an expanded parking area with oversided stalls and “tailgate bumpouts,” a beginner skills trail loop and a bike demo area; a “bicycle hub” featuring a changing room, bike-wash station and a bus stop; a designated special events area; an upgraded entrace; and two short connecting trails.

Here’s a bit more info and a few images of the proposed improvements (taken from the BLM environmental assessment document):

Expanded Parking Area
sandy-proposed-improvementmap

In order to construct the parking area and additional amenities, a total footprint of 4.2 acres will be disturbed. To construct the parking area, 2.02 acres of the total footprint will be cleared of all vegetation, including small diameter trees if necessary for safety and overall design. The type of vegetation that would be removed includes small Black Cotton Wood, Red Alder, small Western Hemlock, Salmon Berry, California Hazelnut, and Vine Maple. The parking area will be asphalted and parking spaces will be delineated with strips and curbs.

The parking spaces are designed to be over sized spaces to allow for any size passenger vehicle to be parked comfortably and leave ample space to maneuver their gear in and out of the vehicles. Eighteen additional areas for tailgating or picnicking between three parking spots, or bump-outs, will be cleared, graveled, and outfitted with a picnic table for spaces on the exterior of the parking area (EA Figure 2). The expanded parking area will remove 19 standard parking spaces from the existing trailhead parking area, leaving 17 standard parking spaces; while adding 163 new standard parking spaces, four large vehicle parking spaces, and additional handicap designated parking. One additional vault restroom will be installed adjacent to the existing vault restroom to accommodate visitors within the expanded parking area. Two gates will be installed on either side of the expanding parking area loop near the large vehicle spaces to allow for winter season closure of a majority of the new parking spaces for public health and safety.

Beginner Bicycle Skills Trail
Within the interior of the expanded parking area a mountain bicycle beginner skills trail will be built. The skills trail area will encompass approximate 2 acres of the disturbance footprint within the expanded parking area loop (EA Figure 3). Vegetation within the 2 acres will remain in place, including large woody debris. The BLM will remove any non-native and invasive plant species and replace them with fruiting and flowering shrubs and understory trees, Western red cedar, and other vegetation as prescribed by the BLM Wildlife Biologist and Botanist to facilitate wildlife and migratory bird habitat. Construction of the beginner trails will be completed by either BLM or the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) through an existing assistance agreement for the Sandy Ridge Trail System. All trails constructed in the beginner skills area will follow IMBA and BLM non-motorized trail guidance and design features (EA Section 2.4.4).

Bicycle Hub Structure
sandy-bikehub-busstop

sandy-changingroom

A bicycle hub, wash station, changing room, and bus stop will be encompassed into one structure and installed south of the existing parking area (EA Figure 3). The structure will be built and installed in cooperation by a BLM non-profit partner. The hub itself will provide tools for small bicycle repairs as well as local area safety equipment and information. Changing rooms and a Mount Hood Express bus stop will also be added to the hub structure. All of the amenities included in the bicycle hub will have a total disturbance foot print of approximately 800 square feet.

The bicycle wash station will help reduce the spread of non-native and invasive species by providing an area for visitors to pressure spray dirt and debris from their bicycle before entering and leaving the trail system. The bike wash station would consist of a structure to hang the bikes on, a low pressure water source to spray bikes and gear off, and a stiff bristle brush to brush off any remaining dirt that cannot be sprayed off. A well head will be installed near the hub to provide less than 5,000 gallons a day of potable water for drinking and for the wash station, which would not require a water right according to the state water master of the region.

Designated Events Area
The existing parking area will be re-purposed to function as an area for permitted trailhead events and concessionaires, including bicycle demos and food carts (EA Figure 3). The Designated Events Area will be built within the center of the existing parking area. A bike demonstration event is where a mountain bike manufacturing or retail company brings a trailer of mountain bikes to Sandy Ridge Trailhead and allows potential customers to test ride the mountain bikes. There is a need to develop a formal bike demo and event area to allow for better accommodations and to reduce the amount of parking spaces used for events. In 2016, there have been 28 scheduled events at Sandy Ridge Trailhead.
A 125 foot by 150 foot pad will be cleared of vegetation, graded, and paved with asphalt within the interior of the existing parking area. Approximately 20 small trees will be removed from the areas in order to construct the pad. In addition to formalizing the event area for bike demos, the re-purposed area would allow for food trucks and carts, providing for a greater level of service for the community and visitors. The area will be available to reserve for events through the Northwest Oregon District SRP process.

Entrance Redesign
sandy-bikerack

A new entrance will be developed that better meets the management objectives of the Sandy Ridge Trailhead. The entrance will incorporate the same style of design, material, art, structure, and sculptures that will be throughout the parking area. The new entrance design may feature an arch entry way that spans the width of the entrance road, with sculptures and stonework of mountain bikers and native wildlife. The location of the new entrance design will be in roughly the same location as the current entrance sign. Considerations for security and safety will be taken into consideration for the new entrance design. For additional design drawings, see EA Chapter 5.

Connecting Trails
Two small connecting trails, totaling 120 feet in length, will be built to connect to the existing trails that are near the trailhead (EA Figure 3). There is currently a loop trail that rings around the proposed parking area. A new trail will be built connecting the northern most portion of the trailhead to the existing loop trail.
Another connecting trail will be built to tie in a nearly completed trail from Barlow Wayside trail to the Sandy Ridge Trailhead. This connecting trail will be for pedestrians only, and trail constructing may include stairs or other built in obstructions to deter the use of bikes on the Barlow Wayside trail.

The BLM estimates about 90,000 people visited the Sandy Ridge trails in 2015, making it one of the most popular recreation spots in the entire region. They say these new amenities and upgrades are necessary in order to, “provide increased site access, improved safety, and to protect the natural environment to provide for a high quality recreation experience.”

The major increase in parking capacity for instance is proposed because many people park out on Barlow Road when the current lot with just 36 parking spaces gets full. There are an estimated 326 vehicles a day that use the lot during the peak riding season. When people park along the road it’s a, “serious safety concern” because of poor sight distances and high volume of trucks that use the road.

The BLM also wants to encourage people to not drive to the trailhead. They say the new bus stop, “would allow visitors that do not have access to privately owned vehicles the ability to frequently access the trailhead from the surrounding communities and the Portland-Metropolitan area.”

If you have concerns or want to show your support for this proposal you can share your feedback via this online form through December 8th. You can also contact NW Oregon District Recreation Planner Dan Davis via email at BLM_OR_NO_Rec_publiccomments@blm.gov.

We’re trying to track down a project timeline and will update this post when we hear more.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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The post New skills trail, major upgrades proposed for Sandy Ridge trailhead appeared first on BikePortland.org.

In light of run-ins with angry couple, BLM will increase patrols, presence at Sandy Ridge

In light of run-ins with angry couple, BLM will increase patrols, presence at Sandy Ridge

Sandy Ridge loop-6

Riders at the Sandy Ridge parking lot.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Bureau of Land Management says they will step up patrols of the Sandy Ridge Trail System after reports of confrontations gained traction among local riding groups and in the media last week.

Last Tuesday, we reported that several users of the trails at Sandy Ridge claimed they were confronted by an “older couple.” The allegations described a man and a woman who had used mace on dogs owned by people riding mountain bikes. In one case, shared by a man named Chris Hess via a comment on BikePortland, the woman approached a family and pulled a stun gun on Mr. Hess’s wife “with her finger on the trigger sparkling it and taking steps towards her.”

We’ve been in contact with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office about the case and they’ve confirmed receipt of several complaints. On Friday, CCSO Lt. Robert Wurpes confirmed they have forwarded the case above to the Disrict Attorney for consideration of criminal charges.

Also on Friday, BLM Salem District Manager Kim Titus published a statement about the incidents:

The Sandy Ridge Trail System is growing in popularity, serving 60,000 visitors in 2013. The BLM Salem District strives to make it a family-friendly biking destination where riders of all ability levels can improve their skills and enjoy a day in the woods. As use increases, so too does the potential for conflicts between users.

The BLM has been made aware of reports of conflict between visitors. BLM law enforcement and recreation staff will be working with Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office to find a resolution. The BLM urges visitors with dogs to keep control of their animals at all times. We also ask that all visitors are polite and respectful of others and obey the posted rules and regulations. In the meantime, we’ll be increasing our law enforcement presence and promoting visitor education.

It’s no surprise the BLM is taking this matter seriously. Sandy Ridge and the greater Mt. Hood area is in the midst of a bicycling boom and the tourism dollars generated by trial users is an important part of the region’s economy.

Stay tuned for further developments.

— Watch video coverage of this story via KATU and KOIN.

CORRECTION: The initial version of this story described the incidents as “assaults.” That was a mistake. We are not aware of any physical harm to anyone as a result of these confrontations. At this point, if the allegations are true, the couple would be guilty of “Menacing,” a misdemeanor according to Oregon law.

Sandy Ridge trail users report confrontations with mace-toting couple

Sandy Ridge trail users report confrontations with mace-toting couple

Sandy Ridge sign

(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Users of the popular Sandy Ridge MTB Trail System are speaking out about an unidentified couple they say has repeatedly threatened and assaulted people during and after their bike rides.

According to allegations, an “older couple” has hiked up the mountain bike trails from the parking lot and “accosted” riders.

Members of the Sandy Ridge Trailhead Mountain Bikers Facebook group have been discussing the incidents since last month. One member of the group, Brian F., described an incident he claims took place on February 26th:

“last night the crazy gun toting, bear mace your dog couple struck again to my friend m***** in the lower parking lot. the woman maced ender, the dog… the older man has pulled his weapon on 2 of my friends in the parking lot and the woman carries a can of bear mace, they dont like dogs or bikers and hike the trails.”

Following this incident, the couple was followed home and their address was reportedly handed over to law enforcement.

Another Sandy Ridge trail user we’ve been in contact with via email said several other groups of riders have also had confrontations with this same couple. It’s not clear why the couple is targeting mountain bikers; but some suspect they are particularly annoyed with the riders’ off-leash dogs. (It’s worth noting that the Sandy Ridge Trail System was developed by the International Mountain Bicycling Association and the Bureau of Land Management specifically as a mountain bike riding area. As such, it has become a very popular regional riding destination and it’s not that common to see people hiking on the trails.)

We first heard about the incidents last week and we are still following up with local authorities to learn more. There are three agencies that have jurisdiction at and around Sandy Ridge: The BLM, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, and the Portland Water Bureau.

The Water Bureau has a stake in Sandy Ridge because of it’s proximity to the Bull Run watershed. Their public information officer, Tim Hall, said he’s been notified by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office about the situation, but so far he’s not aware of any trail users that have come forward to file an official complaint against the couple. Hall confirmed that Water Bureau security guards are aware of mace being used on a dog and officers have interacted with the couple. Hall says the couple hike the trails a lot and “They’re fearful of the dogs going off leash.” Hall added that Water Bureau security officers have passed the case on to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.

Clackamas County Deputy Sheriff Joshua Griffin told us he’s aware of the incidents in the area; but that there is not active investigation at this time. (Some of the trail users are skeptical about law enforcement getting involved because no one has gotten hurt yet.) We’ve left a message with the Sheriff’s Office public information officer to learn if any other other investigations have been opened.

We’ll continue to follow this case and post updates as warranted.

In the meantime, if you have come in contact with this couple or if you have more information about these incidents, please call the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency line at (503) 655-8211.

Two new trails opening at Sandy Ridge this weekend

Two new trails opening at Sandy Ridge this weekend

Sandy Ridge sign

Now there are two more reasons to ride at Sandy Ridge.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Sandy Ridge, the popular mountain bike trail-riding area just 40 miles east of Portland, just got even better. Two new trails are set to open by this weekend bringing the total mileage of bike-specific trails in the system to over 15.

Adam Milnor, a recreation planner with the Bureau of Land Management’s Salem District, shared the great news a few minutes ago:

Follow the Leader is a 1.65 mile advanced trail that features a challenging double black diamond segment. Riders start at the upper info kiosk and traverse a couple scree fields before fording Little Joe Creek. From there, the trail drops 350 feet in the next mile with some exposure, big grade reversals and plenty of opportunities for skilled riders to get off the ground.

Flow Motion is a 0.75 mile intermediate flow trail with incredible soil and more than fifteen berms. The trail drops 275 feet through a nice Doug fir and hemlock forest before crossing the road and tying directly into lower Hide and Seek Cut. Great pedal to payoff ratio, with an easy session opportunity using Homestead Road. Sure to see lots of traffic.


And here’s a detail of the latest, updated trail map showing both new trails…

Flow Motion and Follow the Leader are on the right in this map detail.
Download PDF of new map

Milnor credits these new trails to the hard work and dedicated of International Mountain Bicycle Association (IMBA) “trail guru” Jason Wells, volunteers from Sandy-based Antfarm, and the Northwest Trail Alliance. BLM planner Zach Jarrett was the agency spearhead of the project and he’s also credited with naming the trails.

As we just shared in a previous story, Sandy Ridge is just one of many pieces to a growing puzzle of bicycle recreation options in the Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge areas.

Learn more about Sandy Ridge on the BLM website. Read more of our coverage on the Sandy Ridge Trail System in the archives.

Regional mountain biking news roundup

Regional mountain biking news roundup

Riding and working at Riverview property-1

Portland Parks is moving forward with trail planning
at River View Natural Area.

It’s a great sign of progress when there’s enough mountain biking news for a roundup. In Portland and in hills in almost every direction there are plans afoot to improve and expand off-road riding opportunities.

We are very fortunate around here to have some excellent and hard-working mountain bike advocacy groups. Those groups and their volunteers have been busy building trails and relationships with land managers that make it possible for all of us to have a great ride.

Below are a few updates on what they’ve been working on…

Progress and a milestone at Stub Stewart State Park
I rode my mountain bike at Stub Stewart for the first time last weekend. At just 31 miles from Portland, this is a one of the closest places in the region to ride good singletrack (if you don’t want to drive, it makes a great ride and/or you can MAX all the way to Hillsboro!). Currently Stub has over 15 miles of natural surface trails that are open to mountain biking. And after this weekend it’s going to get even better.

Advocacy groups and volunteers have been building bike-specific trails at the park for years and this weekend they expect to reach a major milestone. A work party is planned to put the finishing touches on the Linkpin trail that will connect two already built trail systems to its north and south. See the map below (Linkpin is in blue):

The new trail will add another 2.5 miles of singletrack made specifically with mountain biking in mind. The Northwest Trail Alliance is planning a big “golden spike” event on Saturday (4/6) to celebrate the trail’s completion. Meet at the park at 9:00 am to help dig the last few yards! More info at NW-Trail.org.

Update on the River View Natural Area
The City of Portland purchased the 146 acre River View property back in May 2012. As I’ve shared in the past, River View holds vast potential for off-road bicycling. Last week, Portland Parks & Recreation put out a request for proposals to begin the planning work for the property. I asked PP&R Project Manager Emily Roth for more info.

Roth said they are embarking on the River View Natural Area Habitat Management, Recreation & Trail Plan. As part of that effort, Parks “will be examining the location and uses of soft surface trails in the natural area.” While she didn’t promise anything in terms of mountain bike access, she did note that, “Mountain bike use will be part of the analysis and discussion by the technical and project advisory committees.” Those committee will have representation from people who are interested in mountain biking and Roth said they’ve already been contacted by the Northwest Trail Alliance. They will select the committee at the end of May. Stay tuned for more info on this exciting project.

Sandy Ridge Trail System in the running for major grant
The awesome Sandy Ridge Trail System is up for a major grant from Bell Helmets. Sandy Ridge was selected as one of 12 finalists nationwide back in February to be considered for $100,000 in grants. One component of the selection process is a public vote via Bell’s Facebook page.

Check out the new Sandy Ridge video below featuring North Portland resident and Bell-sponsored rider Matthew Slaven:

If selected, the NW Trail Alliance would work with the Bureau of Land Management to build a 2.2 mile trail with downhill-specific features. The trail would be a double black diamond route for advanced riders and it will be constructed using youth from the local community. Sandy Ridge currently trails a few percentage points behind a trail project in Michigan for the lead in public voting. Voting is open until April 12th and winners will be announced on April 19th. Get over there and vote!

I hope this is just the start of a regular mountain biking news roundup. If you have tips about other projects or trails in the works, drop me a line.

Regional mountain biking news roundup

Regional mountain biking news roundup

Riding and working at Riverview property-1

Portland Parks is moving forward with trail planning
at River View Natural Area.

It’s a great sign of progress when there’s enough mountain biking news for a roundup. In Portland and in hills in almost every direction there are plans afoot to improve and expand off-road riding opportunities.

We are very fortunate around here to have some excellent and hard-working mountain bike advocacy groups. Those groups and their volunteers have been busy building trails and relationships with land managers that make it possible for all of us to have a great ride.

Below are a few updates on what they’ve been working on…

Progress and a milestone at Stub Stewart State Park
I rode my mountain bike at Stub Stewart for the first time last weekend. At just 31 miles from Portland, this is a one of the closest places in the region to ride good singletrack (if you don’t want to drive, it makes a great ride and/or you can MAX all the way to Hillsboro!). Currently Stub has over 15 miles of natural surface trails that are open to mountain biking. And after this weekend it’s going to get even better.

Advocacy groups and volunteers have been building bike-specific trails at the park for years and this weekend they expect to reach a major milestone. A work party is planned to put the finishing touches on the Linkpin trail that will connect two already built trail systems to its north and south. See the map below (Linkpin is in blue):

The new trail will add another 2.5 miles of singletrack made specifically with mountain biking in mind. The Northwest Trail Alliance is planning a big “golden spike” event on Saturday (4/6) to celebrate the trail’s completion. Meet at the park at 9:00 am to help dig the last few yards! More info at NW-Trail.org.

Update on the River View Natural Area
The City of Portland purchased the 146 acre River View property back in May 2012. As I’ve shared in the past, River View holds vast potential for off-road bicycling. Last week, Portland Parks & Recreation put out a request for proposals to begin the planning work for the property. I asked PP&R Project Manager Emily Roth for more info.

Roth said they are embarking on the River View Natural Area Habitat Management, Recreation & Trail Plan. As part of that effort, Parks “will be examining the location and uses of soft surface trails in the natural area.” While she didn’t promise anything in terms of mountain bike access, she did note that, “Mountain bike use will be part of the analysis and discussion by the technical and project advisory committees.” Those committee will have representation from people who are interested in mountain biking and Roth said they’ve already been contacted by the Northwest Trail Alliance. They will select the committee at the end of May. Stay tuned for more info on this exciting project.

Sandy Ridge Trail System in the running for major grant
The awesome Sandy Ridge Trail System is up for a major grant from Bell Helmets. Sandy Ridge was selected as one of 12 finalists nationwide back in February to be considered for $100,000 in grants. One component of the selection process is a public vote via Bell’s Facebook page.

Check out the new Sandy Ridge video below featuring North Portland resident and Bell-sponsored rider Matthew Slaven:

If selected, the NW Trail Alliance would work with the Bureau of Land Management to build a 2.2 mile trail with downhill-specific features. The trail would be a double black diamond route for advanced riders and it will be constructed using youth from the local community. Sandy Ridge currently trails a few percentage points behind a trail project in Michigan for the lead in public voting. Voting is open until April 12th and winners will be announced on April 19th. Get over there and vote!

I hope this is just the start of a regular mountain biking news roundup. If you have tips about other projects or trails in the works, drop me a line.

Rhododendron to Sandy Ridge: An off-highway adventure

Rhododendron to Sandy Ridge: An off-highway adventure

Sandy Ridge in the snow-2

On a bike trail between Rhododendron
and Lolo Pass Rd.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Last weekend I had the good fortune to spend a few nights in a friends’ cabin in Rhododendron, a sweet little community about 20 miles toward Mt. Hood from the town of Sandy. I brought my mountain bike along with hopes of riding at Sandy Ridge. I’m not very familiar with biking around Mt. Hood at all, but I managed to discover a nice route from the cabin to the trails and figured it’s worth sharing. The best part is that I was able to completely avoid riding on Highway 26.

This out-and-back begins in Rhododendron. You’ll know you’ve arrived at the starting point when you come to Mt. Hood Foods and the Dairy Queen which are just up from the electronic signboard and the Still Creek Road exit on Highway 26 (map). There are several places to park among the dozen or so eateries and motels. You’ll want to find East Arlie Mitchell Road right at the northwest exit from the Mt. Hood Foods parking lot.

Ride on East Arlie Mitchell for just a few hundred meters then go left on Forest Road 19/Zigzag River Road where Arlie Mitchell turns into East Henry Creek Road. One of the cool features of this ride is that you’ll be traveling along the historic Barlow Road Trail route. You’ll see signs for the route in several spots beginning at Road 19…

Sandy Ridge loop-7

A historic marker on E Barlow Trail Road.

A mile or so northwest (toward Portland) on Road 19 and it will end into a trail. Cars are no longer allowed, but biking is! This is a fun dirt trail that lasts for another mile or so and takes you through beautiful forests and creeks…

Sandy Ridge in the snow-1

Sandy Ridge in the snow-3

Sure beats riding on Highway 26 huh?!

Once the trail ends and turns back into a road, you’ll want to take a left (west) onto East Mountain Drive. This road takes you directly to Lolo Pass Road. Go right on Lolo Pass for 0.8 miles and take a left on East Barlow Trail Road (signs to Brightwood)…

Sandy Ridge loop-9

Sign at the junction of East Mountain Drive and Lolo Pass Road.
Sandy Ridge loop-1

Stop for the view off Lolo Pass Road.
Sandy Ridge in the snow-4

Lolo Pass Road

Stay on Barlow Trail Road for about six miles until you reach the Sandy Ridge trailhead sign. From here, you can do any loop or mix of trails in Sandy Ridge that you’d like. Given all the snow on the road, we just road up Homestead Road for a mile or so to the “Hide and Seek Cut-off” trail and came back down.

Sandy Ridge in the snow-6

Headed up Homestead Road in Sandy Ridge en route to the Hide and Seek Trail cut-off.
Sandy Ridge in the snow-7

Riding down Hide and Seek Trail.

And for a bonus, I used my new GoPro camera for the first time on the way down. Check out the footage:

For the way back, I just did the route in reverse. I think the total ride was about 22 miles or so. I mapped the route via Ride With GPS if you’d like the specifics. (Please note, since part of the route went on a trail, I wasn’t able to mark the part between Rhododendron and Lolo Pass Road).

I hope others get a chance to enjoy this route. I’ve got a lot more to learn and discover about riding on Mt. Hood and this ride definitely whet my appetite to get up there more often.