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Bike enthusiasts to cut new trails


Penny Schwyn of the Fat Tire Bicycle Club pushes her mountain bike up Devils Down, a steep, rough and eroded trail section in Riverside State Park. The club plans to build an alternate route this summer. 
 (Rich Landers / The Spokesman-Review)
Penny Schwyn of the Fat Tire Bicycle Club pushes her mountain bike up Devils Down, a steep, rough and eroded trail section in Riverside State Park. The club plans to build an alternate route this summer. (Rich Landers / The Spokesman-Review)

Devil’s Down is a heavenly challenge for the very best mountain bikers and horseback riders.

But for average folks it’s a hellish section of trail in Riverside State Park.

“I talked to a horse rider who said every mountain horse should be able to go up a trail like that, but I also know some bikers who have had some nasty crashes here,” said Penny Schwyn of the Fat Tire Trail Riders mountain bike club.

The steep, rocky, eroded stretch of trail below a basalt cliff is just one of many projects the fledgling club hopes to tackle with volunteer efforts, she said.

“Other than maybe stabilizing the erosion, we wouldn’t want to take that section away from the expert riders who like to go down it, but we’d like to build an alternate route that normal human beings can ride,” Schwyn said. “To tell you the truth, I don’t know any mountain bikers who have ridden up it.”

To bone up on the art of trail building for this project and others, the club is inviting various trail-oriented groups to attend sessions next month conducted by the Subaru/International Mountain Bicycling Association Trail Care Crew.

Aug. 11-14, Spokane will be one of 70 stops on the professional trail crew’s 2005 schedule. They’ll talk trails, teach proper trail-building technique and spend quality time digging in the dirt, said club organizer Craig Bierly.

The two-person crew works with volunteers as well as with government officials and land managers to promote multiple use trails. IMBA officials say the crews have led more than 1,000 trail projects since the program debuted in 1997.

“It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding,” said Mike Brixey, a mountain biker and IMBA representative who lives in Elk. Brixey has helped coordinate four trail crew visits to the Spokane area over the years.

“The school isn’t just for mountain bikers,” he said. “The idea is to make multiple-use trail systems that are sustainable. At the same time, we make connections with other users groups that have common interests in preserving access to public lands.”

Past projects have tackled erosion on trail switchbacks off Mount Kit Carson in Mount Spokane State Park as well as re-routing trail in the scenic Deep Creek Canyon area of Riverside State Park, he said.

“We used a technique called rolling grade dips and debermed some areas to allow water to get off the trail rather than being channeled down the track,” he said. “That all helps reduce the frequency of maintenance needed to keep the trail in useable condition.”


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