Recreation

Happy mtn bikersTrail crews on the McKenzie River Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest have completed a five-year project to improve the O’Leary Loop into a world class mountain biking trail. Already a “hidden gem” for both hiking and mountain biking, the enhanced trail is a 22-mile, single-track loop with an intense backcountry feel. Local partners and the McKenzie River Ranger District hope that increasing the mountain biking opportunities in the area will encourage visitors to stay and explore the area for multiple days.

The project started in 2011 when the Recreation and Trails sub-committee of the McKenzie River Chamber of Commerce identified a need for additional bike trails to better serve the mountain biking community. The McKenzie River Trail, which draws visitors locally, nationally and internationally, was the only substantial opportunity for mountain biking in the area. The Disciples of Dirt, a mountain bike advocacy group, worked with the Willamette National Forest to identify the O’Leary Loop, which had been infrequently used for hiking or biking, as an opportunity to expand mountain biking opportunities.

Pony girlWALTERVILLE: The 66th annual “Walterville Community Fair – the Other Country Fair” is just around the corner. The event will showcase prime cookies, pies, cakes, and breads from area kitchens as well as the best canning of the year. Between now and the September 10th fair day, gardeners can encourage their favorite flowers to bloom, and gather  vegetables to enter, while other folks finish up their handiwork or arts and crafts, develop their photography, and dust the antiques to enter into the fair’s many display categories.
Entries for the fair should be delivered between 7:30 and 9 a.m., with judging starting at 9 a.m. There will be Best of Show prizes and all-around winners. People can pick up their entries Friday night between 3 and 4 p.m.
The Walterville Grange will also be hosting the “Walterville Waddle” - a 5K run/walk. Sign ins are scheduled between 7 and 7:45 a.m. and the  Waddle will begin at 8 a.m.  Participants can preregister at https://secure.getmeregistered.com through September 9th.

Blue Pool/TamolitchMCKENZIE BRIDGE: The portions of the McKenzie River Trail that lead to Tamolitch Falls, commonly known as Blue Pool will reopen to the public on Thursday, September 8th. However, due to continued fire-related safety concerns, portions east of Blue Pool and the fire area remain closed - including Forest Service Roads 740 and 743. Officials said road work was completed Sunday on Forest Service Road 655 at the trailhead near Trail Bridge Campground and Carmen Reservoir. Parking is only allowed on the right side of the trailhead parking area near the Trail Bridge Campground.
“Now that the Blue Top Fire is safely contained away from the McKenzie River Trail, we have determined it is safe to re-open that section of trail,” said Terry Baker, McKenzie River District Ranger. “I really appreciate everyone’s patience during the closure.”

MRT rerouteMCKENZIE BRIDGE: Under plans approved in May, the McKenzie River Ranger District will relocate portions of the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail near Smith Reservoir. Parts of the existing trail were originally constructed in areas that officials determined were too steep, didn’t incorporate effective drainage, or were un-sustainable. Problems included erosion that might accelerate over time causing a variety of adverse impacts to the trails and environment, including damage which makes trails unsafe to use and increased turbidity in adjacent water systems. In addition, two bridges will be replaced.
The work plan calls for the new sections to be constructed by hand (no heavy equipment), though motorized tools may be used at times. Crews will remove brush and construct a tread from 18 to 22 inches wide). Unsustainable portions of the trail would be decommissioned and naturalized following completion of the proposed reroutes. Another part of the works will use water bars  to remove running water off of the tread.
The entrance and exit points of the old trail would be hidden by debris to discourage use.
Comments on the proposed action were accepted from April 8th to May 6th of 2016. No comments, either in support or opposed, were received.

MRT ClosuresParts of the McKenzie River Trail remain closed over the Labor Day Weekend, including the popular Blue Pool, at Tamolitch Falls, due to the Blue Top Fire. U.S. Forest Service fire closure orders remain in place for 6 miles of the McKenzie River Trail as well as the area surrounding Blue Pool and the pool itself. The Forest Service closed the area to protect the public from post-fire hazards: falling snags from the rock face above the pool, intermittent rolling rocks, and holes that appear solid, but are hollow and can cause severe burns to feet and legs. Officials report that when firefighters must escort violators out of the closed area it causes unnecessary delays in their suppression efforts. Security staff are on duty to intercept persons breaching the closure and violation notices will be issued.

Blue Pool Fire MapBlue Pool will remain closed through weekend of July 29 & 30

Tamolitch PoolBlue Pool and portion of McKenzie River Trail temporarily closed as firefighters respond to wildfire

MCKENZIE BRIDGE:  Fire crews are responding to the 2-acre Blue Top Fire near Blue Pool and Tamolitch Falls along of the popular McKenzie River Trail (Trail #3507). To protect both the visiting pubic and to allow firefighters to safely manage the fire, the McKenzie River Trail is temporarily closed between the trailhead at Trail Bridge Campground off Forest Road 2600-355 and the trailhead at Carmen Reservoir.

“We realize this is a very popular destination for bikers and hikers.” said Fire Management Officer Randy Harbick. “This closure is in place to protect firefighter and public safety. We will open the McKenzie River Trail and Blue Pool as soon as possible.”

No public access will be permitted to the Blue Bool area. The McKenzie River Trail is still accessible to the west of Trail Bridge Campground and to the east of Carmen Reservoir. Hikers and bikers eager to escape hot valley temperatures and enjoy their national forest are encouraged to explore other beautiful destinations nearby such as Cougar Reservoir or Blue River Reservoir.

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McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/subscriptions-0. Purchase copies online at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/back-issues-0. Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.