Having grown up on the Oregon Coast, we know first hand that the Astoria, Seaside and Cannon Beach area of Clatsop County has the terrain and the prerequisites of an MTB Trail Destination. Rivers, mountains, seaside views plus a healthy selection of breweries, coffee shops and restaurants already cater to an active tourism economy. It has everything except for actual mountain biking. Since a storm in 2009 demolished the minimal inventory of existing trails, it has completely lacked in single track.
Astoria, Seaside and Cannon Beach are surrounded by green space owned by the county and private timber lands, with much of the forest land managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry. There is potential here – ODF features bike friendly language in its master plan. Lack of funding and perceived interest though, has stalled the development of any new trails. Fortunately, a new group has emerged on the coast looking to change the status quo: the North Coast Trail Alliance.
After frustrating setbacks in moving forward with ODF, they’ve found opportunity on private timberland just north of Klootchy Creek Park. Thanks to an agreement with Greenwood Resources, the company managing access for the Lewis & Clark Timberlands, the NCTA is on track to create a new trail system.
Their goal is ambitious, aiming to create over 40 miles of bike-optimized multi-use single track trail over the next decade. It’s a lofty goal, but with work crews building non-stop, the biggest challenge the volunteer work force faces is burnout while working toward fundraising goals.
If they succeed, they’ll single handedly put Clatsop County on the MTB trail map and be responsible for a potential influx of mountain bike trail tourism that could offer a significant boost to the local economy.
To get the ball rolling the NCTA contracted C2 Recreation Consulting to aid with developing a trails and signage plan. To date, almost 12 miles of potential new trail is already flagged with a total of 40 miles conceptually designed.
The new trail will eventually connect to the city of Seaside, so people can ride the new trail from town. Or if you’re visiting from out of town like us, you could end your ride at the beach!
Klootchy Creek County Park
Klootchy Creek Country Park is located northwest of the intersection of Highway 26 and Highway 101. The country park serves as primary access to the in progress trail system, and is the meeting site for volunteer trail builders assisting with the new trail construction.
The park was previously known for being the location of the largest Sitka Spruce Tree in the US. Since the tree fell, interest in the park has waned but is well situated to serve as the hub of the new trail system.
Klootchy Creek is still popular with local fly fisherman, but the hiking trails don’t receive as much use as the area is abundant with hiking options. Klootchy Creek is set to be a major spot on the map, with plans for the new trail system that include a mix of family friendly climbing trails, blue and black rated back country single track as well as bike optimized blue and black rated descending trails.
The NCTA has already begun building with the help of local trail builder, who has been donating labor and machine time with a new mini-excavator via his business, Morgan Soller Construction. According to Soller, “the momentum is awesome, we are making a lot of headway. I’ve got 136 hours on my machine now, working an average of 20 per week”.
The Trail Experience
Oregon has quite a few miles of hiking trails, so the planned MTB experience the NCTA is shooting for is significant. Chris Bernhardt of C2 Recreation Consulting writes, “NCTA wanted a place where visiting families and sporty folks could come ride and have a good time, so we made several easy loops down low, with a stack of blue loops above them to the base of Twin Peaks. These trails will be great for folks who visit the Coast to kayak, surf, beach walk, shop, etc., and want to add some mountain biking to their weekend. “
Even more exciting to those of us that travel in seek of challenging trail experiences, a number of black-diamond loam lines are going in close to the start of the trail so riders can get an after work fix in.
Recreational Access Permit
When the new trail system opens this summer, a no-cost recreational access permit will be required. (register for your permit here)
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