Timberline Lodge Proposes Mountain Bike Lift Service for 2011

A new system of downhill mountain bike trails would provide year-round recreation. But what are the environmental impacts?
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A new system of downhill mountain bike trails would provide year-round recreation. But what are the environmental impacts?
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Timberline Lodge and Ski Area has proposed a plan to construct 15 miles of lift-serviced mountain biking trails and an acre-sized skills park. Until now, bikers eager for some downhill action have been creating their own trails. These illegally constructed routes are said to be damaging Oregon’s public lands. The new network of trails will be designed to meet the growing demand for year round recreation on the hill. Although nearby Portland has more people with bikes per capita than any other state, there are few lift-accessed mountain biking areas. Building and managing a mountain bike trail system ideally will not only create more summer recreational activities, but will also protect local resources.

Riders of all abilities will be able to enjoy the park, but there will be an emphasis on building beginner and intermediate trails. Features like banked turns and bridges will enhance the technical trails, while singletrack will please the purists.  The skills park will have jumps, twisty boardwalks, see-saws and ramps. The park will create jobs for the seasonal winter staff, too— a full-time trail maintenance crew and bike patrol would keep the park safe.

Local environmental groups have concerns, however. They’re not quite convinced of the benefits. The surrounding alpine terrain is fragile, and increased traffic could lead to more erosion into nearby Still Creek (home to wild Coho and Steelhead). The US Forest Service has initiated an analysis to assess the environmental impacts. Others worry that downhill mountain biking is too extreme and niche for the area.

Want to chime in? Public commenting is available at TimberlineLodge.com.