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The private Post Canyon

County officials, property owners, and bikers are working toward common ground

June 11, 2005

According to Hood River County Forestry, almost all the bicycling trails at Post Canyon are on privately owned land. Over the years, bikers have built miles upon miles of trails into an extensive network of what is now considered to be the most widely used trail system in the county.

In the last five years, give or take, extreme bikers and freeriders have added to the trails bridges, gap-jumps, step-ups, teeter-totters, drops, and an array of other wooden obstacles and landscapes.

Post Canyon is now well-known as one of the best freeriding and extreme mountain biking areas in the Northwest.

Public use of private land is not without complications. According to county forestry technician Henry Buckalew, trails around Post Canyon run through property of between six and eight private landowners. Oregon law mandates that landowners can be liable for injuries occurred on their property.

Rather than eradicating bikers from the area for trespassing, landowners, cyclists, and Hood River County are working together to form an evenhanded solution.

"Our goal," Buckalew said, "is to create an official, organized system. We want to organize a safe trail system, educate the public, and formulate official landowner agreements to resolve liability issues for them."

A recently imposed trail-building ban in Post Canyon has been lifted, under the condition that anyone interested in building new trails in the area go through a process with the county.

"We need an official process," Buckalew said. "If people want to build new trails, we want them to go through a system that will ensure safety to riders and the environment, and also respects the rights of property owners."

The Gorge Freeriders Association (GFRA), started a few years ago by biking enthusiasts Douglas Johnson, Kevin Tank, and Jake Felt, is responsible for most of the new freeriding construction in Post Canyon.

"The County has been great to work with," said Felt. "We (GFRA) are really grateful for how things have turned out. The County has been really-open minded with what we're doing up there … I think they trust our intentions."

A statement on the official GFRA Web site (www.gfra.org) reads: "Freeriding's international popularity and the divergence of many new riding styles have most riders challenged with finding legitimate places to ride. Problems regarding terrain misuse and other negative associations with freeriding have stemmed from a lack of legitimate riding areas. GFRA is a small group of freeriders and trail builders trying to organize a solution."

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