The Oregon Coast is known as a guarded place. Spend enough time there and you will realize it’s protected because it’s so special.
The Pacific Ocean delivers constant swell to beautiful beaches while verdant forests cover endless ridge-lines. Mix in sand dunes, pristine rivers, maritime culture and deep indigenous roots, and it’s truly a beautiful anomaly.
For mountain bikers, though, it has a noticeable lack of trails. The North Coast Trail Alliance (NCTA)—a subchapter of Northwest Trail Alliance—led by President Steve Blakesley and Vice President Chris Quackenbush and backed by many volunteers, is actively changing that with the Klootchy Creek Trails. The NCTA saw how well a curated trail network was received in Oakridge, Oregon, a small community outside of Eugene, and felt Seaside could be a destination trail experience in a place tourists don’t associate with mountain biking. As it turns out, a network of trails on the coast has a lot of advantages other areas in Oregon do not.
“I think Klootchy has a ton of potential,” says Morgan Sollers, a local trailbuilder, “and the ability to ride from the top of the mountain to the beach gives a distinct allure. The weather is great for building year round, where other nearby places get too dry in summer, or snow-covered in winter. We are able to throw dirt throughout every season.” In late 2018, the NCTA solidified an agreement with private land owner Greenwood Resources that resulted in 9,000 acres of dedicated shared-use land five miles south of Seaside. In July 2019, they opened six miles of singletrack at Klootchy and are now tackling another 40 miles.
For the last two years, Quackenbush and others have been flagging trails and lines with a master trailbuilder—although the heavy lifting began in December 2018, when Sollers, Nate Speer, Kyle Hofseth and Todd Rowley started building the Greenwood trail. In a matter of eight months, the first phase of trails had been cut and shaped largely by the four men. Sollers invested $17,000 in machinery and has missed more than 1,000 hours of work, an example of his passion for and dedication to making trails he and the community want to ride.
“I knew that the group didn’t have the money to afford a machine,” Sollers says, “and I really wanted to make trails. So I decided to finance one for the project. I’ve got 450 hours on it now and it’s a lot of fun.” Speer, a former BMX kid from Snohomish who is now a Seaside resident, has also put in formidable volunteer hours to complete the trail Moflow. The challenges on this line are plentiful, but the builders also designed it to allow novice riders to progress. “Your kid can follow you while you jump everything,” Speer says.
Moflow has berm after berm, packed tightly into a flow that keeps you on your toes. “There’s a lot happening in here,” Sollers says of the trail. “You come out of it and realize, ‘Wow, I was holding my breath the whole time.’”
This new community of riders is growing and learning fast. Organized dig days bring more volunteers with each gathering, monthly pub socials provide feedback and brainstorming sessions, and local breweries collaborate on beer releases that donate a portion of proceeds to the cause. The next phase of trailbuilding will punch in access via a connector trail from Seaside High School, creating a direct line from town for local riders. Sollers has already seen a change happening in the small coastal town.
“People are excited about having a new fun way to exercise and experience something together as a group or individually,” he says. “It’s been rad encouraging new riders toward their own personal achievements.” When it comes to sharing their freshly dug trails, this community of bikers is happy to promote the stoke. These salty citizens have defied the “no dig, no ride” mantra by flipping the script—at the Klootchy Creek Trails, the six miles of singletrack have been built by a few, but built for all.