Urban mountain bike trails coming soon as part of Thurston Hills Natural Area

The grand opening ceremony is Saturday at 10 a.m. at the North trailhead parking lot, 7575 McKenzie Hwy in Springfield. (SBG)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Willamalane Parks and Recreation District has built a trailhead and initial trail system at its new 665 acre Thurston Hills Natural Area.

"This property affords us to really meet the community needs of providing public access to high-value public lands," said Vincent Martorello, the Willamalane superintendent.

The 2-mile North Access Trail features a compacted gravel surface.

"It's great - the surface is really comfortable to hike on," hiker Debbie Severson said Thursday.

This trail intersects with a 1.3 mile Spine Trail that continues along the ridgeline to a gravel road on the south end of property.

Willamalane is also working with local mountain biking club Disciples of Dirt to construct a nearly 2-mile downhill trail exclusive to mountain bikers, which will open in late spring.

"This is the first ever, urban mountain bike trail system being developed," Lee Wilkinson from Disciples of Dirt said. "This has been a need in the community for quite some time. There's very little riding out here in the urban area."

"Our future planning involves a secondary trail system, expanded mountain bike course and a future trailhead," Martorello said.

"We're lucky to have their expertise here and look forward to working with them to extend the trail system," added Eric Adams, the Willamalane planning manager.

Money for project comes mostly from the $20 million parks bond approved by voters in 2012.

The project also got a $1.2 million grant from Boneville Power Administrator.

The grand opening ceremony is Saturday at 10 a.m. at the North trailhead parking lot, 7575 McKenzie Hwy in Springfield.

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