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New Cascade Locks trail just the beginning of larger network

November 5, 2011

The community of Cascade Locks will soon have a new amenity on a section of scenic waterfront property just outside of town, and if all goes as planned, the trail will be the first of many to be added to the area.

With partnership from the Northwest Trails Alliance, the Port of Cascade Locks is hosting a public work party Sunday to finish a two-mile, multi purpose loop trail at the end of Industrial Park Way. The trail weaves its way around land where a Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs casino has been proposed; and with striking vistas, decent dirt and flat terrain, the family-friendly track will be a positive addition to the otherwise vacant lot.

Volunteers did a good portion of trail building last month and with 20 people already confirmed for Sunday's work party, the trail -- dubbed "Easy Climb" -- will be ready to ride after the weekend.

"We're very excited about the project," said Holly Howell, port special projects manager. "It's a great addition for the community, and it's just the start of what we're hoping will be a new network of trails in the area."

With help from NWTA, the trail was designed to be the first phase of a future trail complex on port property between Eagle Island and the new Blackberry Beach windsurfing launch site on the northwest corner of the lot.

"The trail is intended to serve as a community amenity to Cascade Locks as well as a recreation destination opportunity for visitors," Howell explained. "It also builds momentum in the community for several exciting regional trail projects on the horizon, including the connection of the Historic Highway bicycle and pedestrian trail by the Oregon Department of Transportation, the feasibility study for improved bicycle and pedestrian safety on the Bridge of the Gods, and a 26-mile mountain bike trail complex on U.S. Forest Service land just south of town."

The larger-scale trails project, called Cascade Locks International Mountain Bike (CLIMB) trail, has created quite a buzz among Gorge-area mountain bike advocates. If environmental studies are completed as planned, the extensive trail system should begin to take shape in 2012-13.

"The port envisions many opportunities for trail connections to the heart of the Cascade Locks," Howell said. "It brings some exciting opportunities to the community, and I think once the word gets out and people start using the trail, they're going to be really excited about future projects."

A master plan of several trails on Industrial Park Way was drawn up by Andrew Jansky of Flowing Solutions LLC, who volunteered his expertise as an engineer. He said breaking ground on the rest of the trails in the plan will require a conditional use permit through city planning, but that if things go as the port hopes, work on another ten miles of trails will be started sometime next summer.

"The hope is to build some excitement with this first trail, as a gateway to the rest of the trails that are planned for the area," Jansky said. "This one is a family trail; it's a great place to take kids, to go for a nice easy ride and to enjoy some simple features."

Other trails in the master plan would link together with the first one and would include the capability to host cycling events like cross country and cyclecross races.

"We're hoping to continue and to keep the energy going next year as a lead-in to the rest of the larger CLIMB system," Jansky said.

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