It’s that time of year when mountain bikers head to Horse Ridge to ride snow-free singletrack. What many of them don’t know is that the new parking area and trail access is open and should be used in favor of parking along the roadway.
In the words of the BLM’s Gavin Hoban: “Central to the development of the site were these motivations: 1) Address the safety of users, dogs, etc, loading and unloading in the state highway right-of-way in the face of gravel trucks traveling the road from the nearby quarry.
2) to mitigate the breakdown of the asphalt at the road's edge from
increased use at the roadside site
3) to decrease resource impacts to a non-hardened ad-hoc site
4) to provide a low-key, quality trailhead user experience in a safe off-street parking setting.”
So if you plan to ride the ridge, please help out and use the new parking area.
For many years the Forest Service campground at Skull Hollow has been popular particularly with climbers who wanted to get away from the crowds at the Smith Rock climbers camping area. Also key in their preference for Skull Hollow camping was that van camping was allowed there and you could have a campfire. The fact that the camping was free was a value added.
Then the USFS turned the campground over to a private concessionaire who immediately closed the campground for five months (November to April) each year and last year started charging for camping.
The reason behind the closure is simply that the concessionaire is responsible for any damage to the campground if it’s open and there’s a resident host on site. With the campground closed and no host on site, the liability issue goes away.
Members of the climbing community are trying to rally support to have the campground open year round as the USFS gets set to sign a new 5-year agreement with the private concessionaire.
If you want to know more about the situation or get involved, contact Ian Caldwell (firstname.lastname@example.org)