In Oregon, $28 million is generated from off-road travel.
“Let’s grab some of that,” Steven Blakesley, president of the North Coast Trail Alliance, said as he addressed members of the Seaside Chamber of Commerce at the Holiday Inn Express at a June breakfast meeting.
Blakesley’s visit was inspired by the coming July 20 grand opening of trails designed to end in Seaside, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Klootchy Creek Park on U.S. Highway 26.
Lodging facilities like the Holiday Inn and others stand to profit from the business coming, which, overall, brings $400 million into the state’s economy.
“Six-hundred-twenty-thousand Oregonians mountain bike — that’s 15% of us, and it’s growing,” Blakesley said. “Start paying attention to the bikes on the backs of the cars, you’ll see surfboards on top, bikes on the back.
Nationally, 45% of bike sales are mountain bikes, he said, and the American Mountain Biking Coalition estimates on an average mountain biking vacation, two people over three nights will spend an average of $491.
Started in 2015, the North Coast Trail Alliance is a subchapter of the Portland-based, 1,200-member Northwest Trail Alliance, which provides insurance and acts as a fiscal agent.
“Usually to break ground takes five to 10 years,” Blakesley said. “We’re not even a year in under 12 months and we have already three miles of rideable trails.”
In late September, the North Coast Trail Alliance began clearing out future riding areas on Lewis & Clark Timberlands north of Klootchy Creek County Park, six miles of downhill, single-track trail to start, with a goal of expanding to 40 connected miles over the next few years.
The cyclists’ goal will be to reach the top of Twin Peaks at an elevation of between 1,500 and 1,600 feet.
Clatsop County initiated access to the trails and expanded the parking lot.
Cyclists intend to celebrate their successes at the Saturday event and ribbon-cutting at 11:30 by Mark Morgans of GreenWood Resources, with food and refreshments to follow.
“It’s building a community, a whole group that meets together, works together,” Blakesley said. “It’s been phenomenal to be a part of that. People are coming in already from out of town and immediately we have this commonality, rapport — and that’s such a nice thing to have.”
Contributing to the organization’s quick success is partnerships with the Oregon Coast Visitors Association, Clatsop County and GreenWood Resources, among others.
The trail alliance received a grant of $4,400 from Seaside’s Tourism Grant Program, announced this spring.
“When leaders invest in outdoor recreation, the result is healthier communities, healthier economies,” he said.