The Lemon Gulch Trails Project is paving the way for local and visiting mountain bikers and outdoor enthusiasts with a proposed trail system in the Ochoco National Forest. Mountain biking is a sport that has seen tremendous growth over the last couple decades and the growth isn't slowing.
Currently, there are 156.5 miles of non-motorized trail in the forest, but there are no trail systems designed and built specifically for mountain bike use, according to Ochoco Trails. The Lemon Gulch Project proposes a downhill-focused trail network for locals and visitors. Located just out of Prineville, the forest's terrain allows for steep, technical trails that are hard to find in Central Oregon. Contained within a 3,000-acre portion of the 850,000-acre Ochoco National Forest, the Lemon Gulch Project proposes up to 52 miles of new trails for public land users.
The Ochoco Trails coalition's mission is to envision the future of sustainable non-motorized recreation in the Ochoco National Forest. The group has gathered information and on its website listed reasons to support the Lemon Gulch: "A concentrated but high-volume trail network will serve to 'future-proof' against future trail needs as mountain bike use inevitably grows," adding, "more recreation and tourism will help diversify Prineville's economy, reducing the reliance on corporate data centers and extractive industries," and more.
"The goal was really to develop a master plan for the Ochocos, because right now, the usership is increasing. We are seeing increased user conflict. It's not terrible yet, but it's only going to grow. We want to develop a trail plan that would mitigate that for the next 20 years or so," said Travis Holman, vice president of the Central Oregon Trail Alliance and representative of Ochoco Trails, in the Lemon Gulch proposal video.
The project has undergone federally mandated NEPA review for almost two years and has released its environmental assessment, providing an in-depth research analysis of the project's impact.
For the project to be approved, the United States Forest Service is asking the public to offer opinions. Ochoco Trails encourages the community to submit comments to the USFS in support of the Lemon Gulch before Dec. 19. Visit ochocotrails.org/lemon-gulch/ to support mountain biking in Central Oregon.