Last Sunday Ian and I decided to check out the new mountain bike park at Duthie Hill, located nearby in Issaquah. After several years of getting something like this launched and completed, the official opening ceremony was a few months ago. I've read a bit about the place and wanted to see it for myself. It also sounded like a fun spot to take Ian for an afternoon, weather was perfect, so off we go.
The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance partnered with King County, and I'm sure a bunch of other like minded folks, to get this 120 acre park approved and ready for riders. In the '90s I was pretty involved with the BBTC (Backcountry Bicycle Trails Club), the earlier version of Evergreen. It's great to see a new wave of people keeping the flag flying and pulling off projects like this.
Okay, enough history - what's it like? Think new school freeride jumps, wooden structures - some elevated, some ground level - mixed with mountain bike in mind designed trails. Trails are marked like ski runs, easy to advanced. All the wooden stunts have bypass trails if you're not so inclined to get air, or don't enjoy riding a skinny piece of wood a few feet in the air.
Here's another cool aspect - the trails are one way only. You can bomb 'em full speed with no fear of someone coming the other way. Oh yeah, the trails also have man made berms that allow for some really fun swoopy turns. There's also jumps built into the trails, but they can be rolled over as well - air not required.
Open area in middle of park contains some practice skinny logs, a wooden jump, and seems to be the hang out spot. The trails all start and finish from the open area - great design. A trail from the parking lot, that also includes a 600 foot wooden section, brings you to the center of it all. They packed a lot of action in 120 acres. The trails themselves are short, but can be linked together for more mileage. If you rode all the perimeter trails, about a 5 mile loop.
Ian rides one of the practice skinny log sections in the center open area. Fun stuff to goof around on and develop better balance skills. No risk either, since you're only a few inches off the ground. If you screw up, just ride off. Yeah, pretty easy. Try this 5 feet off the ground however - another universe.
Well designed practice jump area. Start low and move up. Here Ian gets his feet wet on the lower level.
The trails themselves wind through lush Pacific Northwest forest. Tight, twisty and swoopy. We hit all but the advanced trails for our first visit. A few we rocked multiple times, including Boot Camp, that has fun bermed out corning sections. Ian was rocking that day, riding really well. Following him through those sections almost brings a tear to my eye. I gotta get a helmet cam!
Besides the few blurry shots posted, I didn't take many pictures - was too busy riding. I wanted to grab a few shots of the freeride types railing some of the larger advanced jumps and drop offs. Maybe next time. Being XC guy myself, interesting to watch these dudes grab some serious hang time. Not my style though, due to lack of air talent and general like of intact collarbones.
We did grab a little video however. For some reason, Blogger is displaying the video previews as minature Black Holes of Doom. Click on 'em, trust me - they're there.....
Ian nails one of the longer log sections. Nice!
Dad, that be me, shows how not to do it. I did nail it on the second try, but screwing up is always more fun to watch - no?
Overall, a pretty damn cool place to visit. Place was hopping, but not overcrowded. Everyone from full armored freeride types, to dads riding with Docker shorts and tipped backed helmets. Ancient rigid rigs to downhill bikes. Build it and they will come. The best part was loads of kids riding. Great to see. The most amount of kids I've ever seen riding in one spot. Awesome.
Part of old school XC geek me wants to recoil at the thought of riding in a park - a contained area designed for mountain biking. Wooden stunts, constructed berms, ski labeled trails, it all seems so contrived and a little too thought out.
Well Bunky, after spending a few hours there, get those thoughts out of your helmeted head - 'cause it's all good and a blast to ride. Especially for kids. Kudos to all for putting this place together. We'll be back for sure - and soon.