Plans for developing mountain biking and other recreational opportunities at Beacon Hill will get some traction next weekend.
Local outdoor recreation advocates are joining professional landscape architects to design options for trails, trailheads and signage. On Saturday evening, the designs will be displayed for public comment at the Mountain Gear Warehouse, 6021 E. Mansfield.
This effort is just the latest in harnessing the trail potential for Beacon Hill, one of the last undeveloped ridgelines in the Spokane Area. The area has convenient access via Upriver Drive and the Centennial Trail.
“The key was to get the approval of people who own land on Beacon Hill,” said Penny Schwyn of the Fat Tire Trail Riders Club. Although it’s been treated as public land by many trail users over the years, much of Beacon Hill is privately owned, she said.
The area includes 40 percent public land while 60 percent of the land is owned by private landowners or Avista Corp. The area already has 25-30 miles of trails, she said.
The club has worked with other groups ranging from Spokane City Parks and Avista to the Spokane Mountaineers to meet with landowners and secure grants for developing trails and management.
As a start, a mountain biking skills park has been built at Camp Sekani.
“We’re moving on to other stages, like looking at the best places to develop formal trailhead access,” Schwyn said. Currently, John Shields Park (also known as Minnehaha Rocks) is the only developed access with toilets, she said.
“We want the public to see what we’ve been working on for two years for the community. The design charette next weekend with the landscape architects has been done before in Boise, Moses Lake and Wenatchee. That will help us prepare publishable proposal documents we can use to solicit more grants.”
The architects are volunteers from the National Park Service and Washington State Landscape Architects Association.
“We really want trail users, neighbors and other interested parties to come to the open house. There will be food and door prizes. We have draft maps we are developing.”
The Fat Tire club already has several grants, including $2,000 from the Spokane Parks Foundation for trail markers to be installed next spring at Camp Sekani. A National Park Service grant will help fund trail maps.