Front Lines: Klamath Trails Alliance
When people talk about mountain biking in Oregon, locations like Bend, Hood River and Mckenzie River will without a doubt be mentioned. These areas offer mountain bikers world class trails and spectacular landscapes. Klamath Falls is another location you’ll definitely start hearing more about in the very near future. Located in the southern region of Oregon, you’ll find The City of Klamath Falls. The city and the local trail association, Klamath Trails Alliance have ambitious plans that when complete will surely elevate Klamath Falls to one of the top rated mountain bike destinations in Oregon.
Back in 2009 a small group of trail users started informal meetings to discuss how they could expand and improve existing trail systems around the area. At the time, their main focus was Moore Park. The park already had an existing network of multi-use trails, but improvements were needed. Working together with Friends of Moore Park they presented a plan to City Parks to take over maintenance of Moore Park along with the creation of the Klamath Ridgeview Trail. The Klamath Ridgeview Trail will be a new 4 mile multi-use trail that would connect Moore Park with the Running Y Ranch Resort.
With the completion of the Klamath Ridgeview Trail under their belt and plans for a new network of trails in the works, the time had come for the Klamath Trail Alliance to become an official 501c3 non-profit organization. With each monthly meeting that passed, exciting new ideas emerged on ways to continue to expand and build new trails around Klamath Falls. Members of KTA started scouting the area for a fresh piece of land that could eventually become the canvas for their next masterpiece. With spectacular views of Upper Klamath Lake and Mount Shasta in the distance, Spence Mountain located just 15 miles from downtown was the perfect location for an exciting new trail system. Working with the landowner JWTR, Oregon Department of Transportation and Oregon Department of Forestry, KTA submitted a formal proposal that would allow the Alliance to build the first phase of their trail plan. A plan that would eventually see 50+ miles of multi-use trail snake its way around the 7400 acre parcel of land
Early in 2013 KTA received the news they were hoping for. A new trail system on Spence Mountain was to become a reality. JWTR approved their trail proposal and The Department of Forestry granted the project a parcel of land for a future parking lot. Thanks to government grants and many generous donations from local sponsors and supporters, KTA was able to secure the services of professional trailbuilders, Dirt Mechanics out of Bend, Oregon. Late in 2014, after two years of planning, fundraising, scouting and flagging, thirty individuals along with the IMBA Trail Building School officially kicked off the start of the project by hand cutting in the first quarter mile of trail. With winter just around the corner the crew from Dirt Mechanics moved in with hopes of finishing off the three miles of flagged trail before the snow shut the project down for the season.
|I'm completely amazed at how a small group of hardworking people are accomplishing so much out there. This is the most highly functioning volunteer organization that I have seen in Klamath Falls. For an on-your-own, stand-alone volunteer organization, you are the cream of the crop. You are most motivated. You took off on our own and made things happen.- John Bellon Klamath Falls Parks Superintendent|
Currently the Klamath Trails Alliance has 80 members and manages 40 trails spread out over three locations; Moore Park, Spence Mountain and newly acquired Brown Mountain. Thanks to KTA, over the last five years Moore Park has seen approximately 4 miles of new trail constructed not including the Klamath Ridgeview Trail. New signage and four kiosks were also installed as well. At Spence Mountain, 8 miles of new trail have been installed with another 8 to 10 more miles planned for 2016. Working with the Department of Forestry they cleared and installed the Howard Bay trailhead parking lot and constructed a new information kiosk. They are also working with the Sky Lakes Wellness Center to develop a one mile, fully accessible trail which will include benches, signs and a Kiosk. Most recently KTA has agreed to take over maintenance at Brown Mountain. A full assessment of the existing network of trails has been planned for 2016. The assessment will allow KTA to better schedule and plan for future trail maintenance days.
The Alliance is only getting started. Their most ambitious plan has yet to come. From the start the original members envisioned The Great Klamath Circle. A 150+ mile loop that would link Klamath Falls to such areas as the Mountain Lakes and Sky Lakes Wilderness Area, Crater Lake National Park, Collier Memorial State Park and the OC&E Woods Line State Trail. KTA have been in talks with various agencies, including Fremont-Winema National Forest, BLM, Oregon State Parks, Oregon Department of Forestry and numerous private landowners, all with the hopes of securing access rights to make The Great Klamath Circle a reality.
In a world where individual user groups have an increasingly overwhelming sense of entitlement over the trails they use and who should and shouldn’t be allowed to use them. It was so refreshing to be able to introduce you to the Klamath Trails Alliance. A group made up of not only mountain bikers, but hikers, trail runners, nordic skiers and snowshoers. Combining their resources along with tremendous support from the community has been the main reason the group has been able to achieve such great success in such a short period of time. If the Alliance's past success is any indication of their future, odds are, Klamath Falls will be ranked as one of the top trail destination in Oregon, if not North America.
To keep up to date on the latest Klamath Trails Alliance news and events, be sure to check out their website and FaceBook page. If you’d like to support the trails around Klamath Fall and see the Great Klamath Circle become a reality, consider earning some Trail Karma by donating to the Klamath Trails Alliance.
MENTIONS: @Klamath Trails Alliance / @Dirt Mechanics / @Hutchs Bicycle / @Sky Lakes Wellness Center / @Eco Solar & Electric / @Running Y Ranch Resort / @Friends of Moore Park / @Trailforks / @ACLakey / @kfoutdoors
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