Anyone who knows me knows at least one thing. I like dirt. The kind full of the good bacteria that keeps me well balanced. Some people garden, I choose to ride trails. Living in Portland that can be a tall order if you don’t feel like driving. There aren’t a whole lot of trails in the city limits, but with some imagination and a couple hours, there are trails to be had.
I live in SE Portland so my usual haunt is Powell Butte. Again, this isn’t to say that the conditions are epic, but when you need just a little bit of dirt, it’s a good place to ride. In the last two months however I’ve found myself on the ground thanks to slick leaves and too much tire pressure. I generally only carry a co2 cartridge so I keep my pressure fairly high for the Springwater out-n-back. Riding home on 40lbs of skinny knobs is not how I like to roll. (Pun intended)
So the other day while working from home I fired up the google maps and started looking for parks nearby. I found a place in the SW hills that I had all but forgotten about. I used to read meters in this particular neighborhood and had only ventured into the park about 100 feet. Well last Thursday I saddled up and set out to explore the area.
It’s not a large place, but it’s fairly close to a couple other natural area/parks so I figured I could link up some dirt and make a good couple of hours out of it.
This park is about 7 acres in total with about two to three miles of trails, and it’s open to bikes. Well, I should say that there were no signs forbidding bikes, and the people walking in the forest were kind and friendly. I was laying down the only treads, and although it wasn’t a high speed kind of place, there was just enough shimmy going on to keep me happy.
In the SE corner of the area there is a hidden bit of trail that winds under a small tree tunnel before emptying out into a root filled short climb. This may be the only technically challenging spot in the area, but it was good nonetheless.
After a couple laps, I headed to the next park. This was a much more developed area, with wide paths for the most part. Marshall Park does have a couple narrow, steep, switchback areas though. The day that I chose to ride was a bit wet so the hikers were few and far between, which suits me just fine. One of the more difficult sets of switchbacks started from a crossing of Tryon Creek which was pretty cool in and of itself.
A dirt ride is never complete without a nice break at the top of a climb.
Marshall Park doesn’t have much in the way of trails. Tryon Creek State Park just around the corner is off limits to bikes, with the exception of paved paths. So running a couple loops in Marshall Park can be fun.
This is not destination riding, but with some creativity and free time it could be worked into a long cross-town ride. I’m working out a good network of off road paths/trails around the city in order to create a long training ride for next years long gravel races. Stay tuned for more dirt gravel reports.