While there is much planning and work to do, we have set a course toward offering the region’s best lift-serviced downhill mountain bike trail. If you’re half as excited about this as we are, you’ve already jumped out of your chair and onto your bike! There is lots of mountain biking to do around Mt Hood in the meantime.
We have contracted with Gravity Logic, a consulting firm out of Whistler, British Columbia to design and develop our mountain bike trail plans. Gravity Logic is the creator of the world-famous Whistler Mountain Bike Park that has earned the position of being the gold-standard by which other mountain bike areas are measured.
Commitment To Quality
Building fun trails is one thing. Building, managing and maintaining quality mountain bike action is another. We’re positioned to do the latter with solid commitment, expert consultation, and an eye for detail. Trails will be constructed using tested methodologies created by professional groups such as IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) and NWTA (Northwest Trail Alliance). If it isn’t fun, strong, and built-to-last — you won’t find it at Timberline.
With homegrown mountain bike trails popping up all over the forest, a major difference with our project will be the ongoing, active management of the area. A full-time trail maintenance crew will be employed to ensure the initial design is maintained. This will create a more consistent environment for mountain bike riders and will also maintain the area’s integrity with the surrounding environment.
Scoping & Planning
An in-depth planning and scoping period is underway to ensure all angles of the project are considered. The USFS is leading an analysis in which potential environmental impacts are addressed. We’re also looking to the mountain biking community for feedback on our plans. We want to ensure our creation is above and beyond expectations on opening day!
Long Term Commitment
Timberline was built in 1937, and has been operated by RLK and Company for over 50 years. We’ve been and will continue to be here for the long haul. We see mountain biking as an integral part of our year-round recreation plan, and will treat this project as one of the primary pillars of our company’s future. This will continue our tradition of creating new jobs and providing a boost to the local economy.
Our commitment to quality will also include an emphasis on safety through proper management, design and signage. Additionally, we will have a volunteer bike patrol, first aid services and trail guides.
A fundamental principle of Timberline is to provide quality recreation within the capabilities of the ecosystem. We care deeply about the environment on which we recreate. Before erecting our newest chairlift – the Jeff Flood Express — we embarked on a multi-year Environment Impact Study which involved a team of scientists, specialists and concerned citizens. That study will be used, in conjunction with new data, to ensure our impact to the environment with this project is well within the limits deemed appropriate by the US Forest Service. By creating an amazing venue for mountain biking within our managed boundary, our hope is that it will lessen the impact of the sport in other areas of the forest.
Current Timeline (*Subject to change)
Project Scoping :: Now
Phase 1 Build-Out :: Early Summer 2014
Trail Preview Opening :: Late Summer 2014
Full Operation :: Summer 2015
While we’re still waiting for final approval to begin construction on the new Timberline Downhill Mountain Bike Trails, we’ve been hard a work restoring many areas around Timberline Lodge which was part of the original project proposal. One of the major projects involved extensive work decommissioning the old Glade Road last summer.
Historically, downhill bikers looking to connect to Government Camp have used this road heavily. As part of a larger trail project in Government Camp that would create better bike trails for the public, the USFS had committed to converting the Glade from a hiking/biking trail to a single-use hiking trail in 2010. The Glade was never meant to be a bike trail, and suffered from erosion issues under heavy use. Other routes, specifically designed for biking from Timberline, were constructed. The decommissioning of the Glade Trail, and the needed restoration work, was not completed by the US Forest Service.
As part of the proposed Timberline Bike Park Project, RLK & Co. – operators of Timberline Lodge – offered to pay for and carry out the road decommission and new footpath construction for the section of the Glade that lies within our permit area boundary. To decommission the road and reduce the amount of sediment coming from this area due to erosion, the roadbed was re-contoured with heavy equipment, water bars and sediment traps were installed, native plants that were salvaged from the project area were transplanted, and the area was seeded with a mix of native grass and flower seeds. Because of the very short growing season and volcanic soils in our sub-alpine ecosystem, the plants will take several years to become established and can be damaged very easily.
We will be constructing a new hiking trail this summer to connect with the Glade below our permit area but until then, the area is CLOSED to all foot and bike traffic. Signs will be posted at all access points to the Glade conveying this information. Though bikes are no longer allowed on the Glade Trail, they can still connect to Government Camp via the Timberline-to-Town Trail which is open to both hiking and biking. See the map below for details on where to access the Timberline-to-Town trail from the Timberline parking lot. We appreciate your assistance in helping this area thrive.
Project Update – May 17, 2013
RLK and Company has been made aware of a lawsuit filed on May 16, 2013 against the United States Forest Service (USFS) by a small group of environmental organizations who are represented by the Crag Law Center. The suit challenges the USFS decision on the Timberline Bike Park proposal. The lawsuit essentially makes the same arguments put forth in this same group’s formal appeal which was subsequently rejected by the Regional Forester in February, 2013 after a rigorous environmental analysis by the USFS. Our proposal has been studied extensively through a 3 year process that included substantial input from the public, as well as State and Federal agencies. The Decision Notice and its Finding of No Significant Impact was made back in November of 2012.
Our plan to build a world-class bike park is consistent with the Mt. Hood Forest Plan and is consistent with Timberline’s original and essential purpose. This has its roots in the democratic and egalitarian vision for Timberline Lodge as a place for the people. In 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt made it crystal clear in his in dedication speech that Timberline was to be valued for active recreational use occurring throughout the four seasons. “New opportunities for play in every season of the year” is the way he put it. We believe that mountain biking at Timberline represents yet another “new opportunity for play in every season of the year.” President Roosevelt talked about the importance of travel and recreation on our public lands as being essential to very notion of citizenship and to American’s health and well being. WPA Director, Harry Hopkins wrote about the Timberline project, saying it rose to the WPA’s fullest purpose of “social usefulness.”
As operators of Timberline Lodge, we respect this original vision, and take it to heart. A rich heritage of recreational opportunities has been developed here over the years providing not only recreation, but also the funding to preserve the President’s vision, and the Lodge itself, which is now a National Historic Landmark. This is at the core of our mission. We feel strongly that our bike park proposal is a responsive and well thought out recreational attraction for a large age group and wide array of recreational enthusiasts. The overwhelming response from the public to this proposal was, and continues to be in enthusiastic favor.
As USFS permittees, we also recognize the Forest Service’s guiding management edict of “multiple use,” and Gifford Pinchot’s utilitarian credo for the Forest Service offering “the greatest good for the greatest number.” Our permit area is designated as A-11. This land use zone dictates recreation as its highest purpose. We operate with the understanding that A-11 lands are lands where recreation can best be focused and managed to minimize a known impact, and simultaneously benefit the larger landscape by taking human pressure off of the more pristine lands on the forest. This is consistent with the notion of multiple use, and has been demonstrated to be a successful management approach to land use, particularly on public lands. In regard to the plaintiff’s concerns for competing uses, The Forest Supervisor as the Responsible Official for this project, noted in his decision that his concern is ensuring that no specific use of the Timberline environs diminishes and/or inhibits any other use on the mountain.
RLK and Company would like to remind the environmental groups represented by the CRAG Law Center of the purpose of social usefulness that built Timberline Lodge, and the role that we have as operators in providing quality outdoor recreation within the capabilities of the ecosystem. We remain proud of this proposal, and thrilled to move forward with our plans.