PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles area boasts world-class downhill mountain biking trails at Dry Hill and challenging vertical inclines along the 25-mile Olympic Adventure Trail, but a group of committed mountain bikers noticed something was missing, facility-wise.
Those available routes require a pretty steep learning curve — making them less-than-ideal locations for those new to mountain biking to comfortably and safely learn new skills and scale up their riding abilities.
Seeking to remedy that situation in the spring of 2017, the group formed the nonprofit Top Left Trails Co-Op, partnered with the state Department of Natural Resources, and through numerous volunteer work parties, re-purposed a 65-acre site off Dan Kelly Road into the Colville Mountain Bike Skills Park.
The first phase of park construction is ready to show off and Top Left Trails Co-Op will host an open house event complete with cake and refreshments from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Attendees are encouraged to bring their bikes and helmets and parking is available in the Equestrian Lot off Dan Kelly Road.
“Before [building the park] there wasn’t anywhere that was easy to take your kids and learn some of those basic bike skills that you need to be able to handle those world-class trails,” Trails Co-Op member Catherine D. Copass said in a video interview during a June work party with Natural Resources.
“We wanted to have a progressive skills area where kids and parents and anyone really, could come and learn some of the real basic features on trails, learn how to jump their bikes a little bit, how to handle their bikes safely and get into mountain biking and see what fun it is.”
Phase 1 complete
Volunteers have been busy constructing a 1-mile perimeter trail, plus a pump track, pump trail, a drop zone and several challenging jump lines.
“The idea of the pump track is you shouldn’t have to pedal, you can use your body to go up and down mounds and pick up speed around the track,” Co-Op member Jessica Berry said. “The pump track is a short round area, the pump trail is a longer trail system that has the same idea.
“Little kids can ride their strider bikes without pedals. They can push up the front of the mound and then ride down the back side.”
Novice mountain bikers have safety options out on the perimeter trail.
“The 1-mile perimeter trail has some jumps that have been constructed but everything has a ride-around, so if you aren’t comfortable or haven’t developed your skills you can go around,” Berry said.
There’s a centrally located area complete with picnic table and benches that families can use.
“We call that the Central Zone,” Berry said. We aren’t going to build any more trails in that area. The DNR has provided a big picnic table and made some benches out of timber from the site.”
Copass said the Central Zone was in the plans from the beginning.
“When we originally designed the trails here we wanted to have a perimeter trail, a jump line area and a pump track and a central area where we could have barbecues and hang out and folks could watch kids bike and kids could watch their parents bike,” Copass said.
The park has seen ridership from a variety of users so far as word of the park’s existence spreads through word of mouth and the popular Trailforks mountain biking app.
“There’s biking for all types of riders,” Berry said. “Kids that ride at the [Lincoln Park] BMX Track come out, the [North Olympic Mountain Bike Team] youth 4H mountain bike team Tom Kendall started up comes out and practices their skills out here. We’ve had lots of kids coming out with their parents. We met somebody the other day from Texas and we’ve had folks from Quilcene and Chimacum come up to ride with their families.”
Berry estimated the group has spent around $10K to construct the park through in-kind donations of time and equipment and a successful benefit last year at Harbinger Winery.
Copass aid Co-Op members appreciate the assistance provided by Natural Resources.
“We’ve been really grateful for the support from the DNR to give us access to this unit to build our trails,” she said. “This unit is fabulous because unlike a lot of other areas where we bring our kids to mountain bike it’s pretty flat. Not so flat that we can’t have some fun, but you don’t have to climb a hill for 20 minutes and listen to the kids cry. We can just get on our bikes and ride around. The access to this unit is fabulous and they’ve been very supportive of our efforts here and very grateful to have that partnership.”
Construction isn’t complete as a second phase of improvements is planned and a second benefit is in the works this fall, Berry said.
“As far as Phase 2 we are hoping to extend one of the flow lines, a downhill trail through the property to connect up with one side of the perimeter trail. The second trail would be a jumpline with table top or step-up type jumps.”
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or at [email protected]