Off-road bike trails now firmly in plans for Rose City Park and golf course

    One of the potential new trails would connect to this sidewalk at the southwest corner of McDaniel High School.
    (Source: Portland Parks)

    A lot has changed in just two months with the outlook of a major off-road trail project in northeast Portland. When we first reported on the Rose City Recreational Trail Project on May 3rd, we said the $4 million project, “Won’t be built with bicycle riding in mind.” That was based on a Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) survey and slide presentation that failed to even mention bicycling as a visitor option or project goal, and staff who replied with, “We’re not sure yet,” when asked about the potential for bike trails at the first public meeting.

    Now it’s clear PP&R has heard concerns from Portlanders who want better urban off-road bicycling options.

    At a meeting with the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) last night, Parks project managers acknowledged missteps in how the project was first presented to the community and said bicycling access to new trails is now firmly part of the plans. For a project that was initially framed as only including walking trails, it’s an important turnaround that bodes well for future Parks projects — and it validates the Off-Road Cycling Master Plan which recommends bike trails at this and many other urban parks around Portland.

    (Source: Portland Parks)

    At the BAC meeting last night, PP&R Project Manager Johnny Fain said they’ve completed initial site investigations at are now in the 30% schematic design phase while they continue to seek feedback from interested parties and prep for trail construction in 2026. Fain laid out the latest concepts for the three potential new trail segments that will be built in Rose City Park and Rose City Golf Course.

    The “Primary Trail” would span the entire width of the parcel between NE 62nd Drive and the southwest corner of McDaniel High School on NE 82nd Ave. (Note: All trails would be natural surface, unpaved surfaces.) The alignment would cut through Rose City Park and then run along the southern edge of the golf course and NE Tillamook St.

    Based in part on feedback they’ve heard from students at McDaniel who want a safe way to bike to school, PP&R plans to connect the eastern terminus of the trail directly to the sidewalk at the high school.

    The “Green Bluff Trail & 72nd Connector” would split from the Primary Trail in Rose City Park near NE 62nd Dr and then run up the ridge onto the existing bluff trail along NE Sacramento Street where it would connect to a neighborhood greenway and safe route to McDaniel. It would also connect to 72nd Drive to create north-south access adjacent to the existing 70s greenway route.

    Fain said he plans to meet on NE 72nd with “a bunch of folks from the cycling community” (probably members of NW Trail Alliance, who’ve been engaged with Parks on this project since May) tomorrow (Thursday, 7/11) at 4:00 pm. “We’re going to walk the site and get the cycling folks’ input on what they think we can do with this section of the sidewalk,” Fain said, referring to the existing dirt walkway adjacent to the paved road that bisects the park. “We’ve heard from a lot of people that even though PBOT has made a pedestrian-only lane here on the paved section, that a lot of folks would like to walk separately from bikers, or that even bikers would rather have a component of it be off-road. So we’re looking into those options, and we’d love to hear from you guys about that,” Fain added.

    The “Yellow Back Nine Nature Trail” would access the northeast corner of the golf course. There would be a standard trail along the edge of the park as well as a “nature trail or single track hiking trail” (dashed yellow in graphic) that would dive down into the golf course through a stand of Douglas Fir trees.

    “We’re thinking of that as more of a single, two-to-three foot wide natural surface pathway for walkers,” Fain said. “It could be for cyclists as well but what we’ve heard is a lot of the walkers would like to use that as a way to get away from cars.”

    During discussion of the concepts, BAC member David Stein expressed his concerns about how Parks left cycling out of these plans initially (and then did it again with a survey released for a different park just last week).

    Parks Community Engagement Coordinator Jenna Stathopoulos said the initial survey was meant to be generic (it wasn’t, it included several specific potential activities, but not cycling) and that if they missed something, people could write it in the “other” box. She also said she was trying to “balance and be mindful of not serving people about things that are not possible in a project.” But in the end she told Stein, “You’re right, to have it explicitly laid out or not on the survey, I guess, does make a statement. We could be doing a better job of balancing those things.”

    Project presentation slides show a very important change since April.

    And Fain, the project manager, said he’s an “avid cyclist” and that, “the omission of cycling was an oversight on my part.” Then he added, “I’m trying to correct that within this project.” It was notable to me how Fain mentioned the project was initially handed to him, “as a pedestrian project,” suggesting that this entire kerfuffle originated from the manager level.

    “It has been a process, and I do apologize for it being clunky, and I’m going to be better in the future,” Fain said. “But just know that there’s never been an anti-cycling thing from the beginning. That has literally never been our intention. I just want you to know that.”

    Regardless of what happened at the outset, things have changed for the better and now this project is on track to fairly consider the inclusion of cycling access — just as our adopted city policies require. Stay tuned for another survey and other outreach opportunities. If you want to show up Thursday at 4:00 pm for the cycling-specific site visit on NE 72nd Drive, Fain said everyone is welcome.

    Rose City Recreational Trail Project website

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