Muddy Leif Erickson Trail Etiquette?

I’m new to off-road cycling. I know in the mountain biking community it’s important to not ride muddy single track since it causes damage to the trail. Does that apply to cycling Leif Erickson in the mud/rain? I’m thinking no since it’s a big road, but wanted to check in. Any good places where one can politely bike off-road in the rain for 20 or so miles? The shorter the drive from SW Portland the better.

I’m hoping to check out Crown Z in a week or two, so curious about etiquette/possible mud damage there too.

Yeah, that’s just a fire road. Go nuts; no harm.

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Leif is fine. Just please don’t poach Wildwood or other trails that prohibit bikes in Forest Park. Unfortunately, there are some who do, even in the muddiest conditions.

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I say poach the trails. There should be consequences for all the obstructionist/elitist NIMBYs who’ve blocked bike trails or trail sharing in the park for decades. Show public officials and park administrators that the is demand for mtbing in FP by actually using the trails. If there are erosion concerns (though you don’t see them closing Wildwood to hikers who also cause accelerated erosion in wet conditions), I’m 100% sure mtbers will be will willing to put in work to maintain the trails.

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I disagree strongly. But whatever.

If you’re going to trash the trails, I hope you have the integrity to actually sign up to do volunteer work in Forest Park, instead of just talking about it on anonymous forums while you encourage other people to violate rules.

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As long as mtbers are banned from Wildwood and new FP mtb trails blocked, I’m going to do exactly zero to help maintain that trail. The vast majority of erosion is done by hikers, not the very few who ride. What percentage of people who hike actually volunteer? You are holding cyclists to a standard you don’t expect of hikers, and that is the crux of the issue. If lack of trail maintenance was an actual worry, hikers would welcome cyclists. Open it up and they’ll get some help. Until there is real viable mtb access in FP, they’re getting no help from me.

NIMBYs ruin everything with their concern trolling. Look at Riverview Natural Area.

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This reminded me: Did anyone ever come up with an exact definition of “the problem” specific to bikes on Wildwood and similar? (For instance, has anyone been injured in a collision?) It never happened over on this thread.

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I’d say the same thing to hikers, too. Stay off Wildwood and other single track in muddy conditions. Don’t be an anti social jerk. Hikers do just as much damage as cyclists do. And if you are going to damage the trail, go and invest some time in fixing it.

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I don’t know of documented cases of crashes or injuries. But I know if plenty of near misses that I have had on a variety of different trails. I also know if a bunch of informal trails that mtbers have created in Forest Park and other natural areas which damage the vegetation and cause erosion.

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OK, so first-person near misses on trails other than Wildwood — likely some that remain open for biking (such as at Powell Butte on the far other side of town) despite such near misses.

And damage on trails that are not formal trails such as Wildwood.

Got it. But then, if the problems are elsewhere (one wonders), why name-check Wildwood?

But whatever.

I referenced wildwood because I have seen tire tracks there on multiple occasions (not to mention ridge, maple, wire gate and other trails on which mtbs are prohibited) and because the informal trails run between Wildwood and Leif. So clearly there is a bunch of MTB activity on Wildwood

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And? I see evidence of hikers: shoe prints, widened trails, informal cut-throughs. Land use has impacts, as well as mitigation and restoration techniques. And you should know cyclist are plenty happy to do their part maintaining trails when they are allowed access.

What does seeing evidence of people mtbing in a city park mean other than abstinence and excision isn’t working? There is a desire to see mtbing included in the system.

Many people have tried to formally work with the city and entrenched hiker activists orgs in the past but all that has done is resulted in more formalized prohibition. There is zero chance these will come to anything in the near future.

I want MTB access to forest park single track. And hiker nimbys are going to have to look at some tread marks in the trail as they add their own wear and know they haven’t solved this issue.


I see nothing wrong with MTB use in Forest Park, but it should be regulated and limited to appropriate locations and seasons (just like hiking). There needs to be mode separation, designated uphill and downhill trails, abd people are going to have to accept that some trails are going to be bike only and some are going to be hike only. It sounds like you aren’t prepared to make these types of concessions. But that is the only way to have large numbers of bikers, hikers abd runners using the system safely.

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So tire tracks are on Wildwood, but your first-person, biking-specific near misses and damage sightings are elsewhere. Therefore, in your world, mitigation is needed … on Wildwood. Um, got it. You do you.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town at Powell Butte, trails have had non-mode-separated, non-directional bike access for many years. And yet, somehow, the sky has held firm. (But agreed, directional, separated trails would be fine — on both sides of town.)

Since this thread is really supposed to be about Leif and not Wildwood, I’ll disengage now. I may check the older thread now and again for further dialogue about Wildwood.

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How many people actually ride at Powell Butte? Are there actually any steep downhill sections? I’ve never used the trails, myself. But when I’ve asked people if it’s a good place to ride, people have told me it’s a small trail system that isn’t much fun. Instead, I’ve gone to post canyon, Sandy ridge, hagg lake and other places to ride.

Just to reiterate, I do not believe there is any hope through formal processes for what you describe. It’s not that I don’t want separated trails. Bike advocates tried for years to get single track mtbing in any form, either designated or shared, added via public process and it didn’t happen. If anything it codified the notion that bikes are not welcome in forest park.

So with that understanding, that we are shut out in perpetuity, I think cyclist are justified in poaching wildwood. You don’t agree, and that’s your right. But don’t mischaracterize my call for continuing this small act of civil disobedience as uncompromising or intransigent. I wanted a process in which shared park access existed, but NIMBY hiking groups and public officials killed that.

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The outcomes of the off road cycling master plan were an absolute sham and a shame. NIMBY bs, through and through. I believe that we will get more MTB cycling in Forest Park someday. Maybe you’re right. Maybe the only way to bring attention to the need is through tracking up the trail and creating conflicts to force the city to do something.

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Ugh, y’all hijacked my thread with this same debate the same posters keep having…


Guilty, sorry.

I think Matt covered your question pretty succinctly in his response. Due to Lief being a road, with a durable base sufficient to support parks department vehicles, you should fine.

Though I do think there is more nuance to the belief that riding mtbs on wet trails is bad. Along with the construction method another thing that Lief has going for it, for all weather riding, is it’s a traversing trail. One of the main concerns with bikes on wet trails is the creation of ruts that allow water to flow downhill. This is less of a concern for trails like Lief and Wildwood that run along the slope.

Another issue is the drying of ruts. Since we have a fairly consistent wet season here in Portland, and very good canopy coverage in FP, the issues some other areas’ trails have with mud baking in the sun into ruts and the footprints of hikers being petrified are less of an issue.

Basically, if we didn’t use wet trails, there wouldn’t be much of an opportunity to ride or hike in the PNW. The key is designing and maintaining trails in such a way that all but the wettest conditions will be fine.

And I would defer to any specific location’s trail builders, but Northwest Trail Alliance describes various trails as such:

“Sandy holds up well in the rain and can be ridden year-round.”

And Rocky Point trails “If you are an NWTA member, this is your local area to access nature on a bike. Go enjoy it. You can ride it twelve months of the year.”

This indicates to me that at least some local trails are fine to ride when wet.

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