Bumps in the Marys PeakTrail

Mary's peak trailAt just under 4,100 feet in elevation, Marys Peak is the highest peak in Oregon’s Coast Range. It’s also a beloved spot for Corvallis-area residents to hike and mountain bike.

Trails of different widths and difficulty ratings exist for different activities. Marys Peak is located in the Siuslaw National Forest and the U.S. Forest Service has a long list of standard trail plans and specifications depending on what activities a trail is intended for.

That means the width of a trail used for mountain biking is going to be narrower than a trail used for hiking. And mountain bikers prefer to keep it that way—especially on popular stretches of singletrack throughout the Marys Peak trail system, like the North Ridge and East Ridge trails. Something that’s also a different preference for mountain bikers versus hikers, mountain bikers like berms and bumps and roots and turns. The trail was designed the way it was for a reason.

But a group of individuals who were spending some time conducting volunteer trail maintenance (not mountain bikers) allegedly “went outside of the standard trail plans and specifications” on a section of mountain bike-friendly singletrack, according to Carl Bauer, the deputy district ranger for the Siuslaw National Forest’s Central Coast Ranger District and Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.

“The trails have become more popular with mountain bikers and with hikers,” Bauer said.

Volunteers have also spent time reworking some of the trails that were maintained incorrectly in efforts to get them “back to where they should’ve been,” according to Bauer.

“There are bumps and rocks and singletrack at 18 inches [in width] or less,” he said. “People were taking out bumps, making the trail wider than 18 inches.”

The incidents occurred around late spring and early summer, and Bauer added he hasn’t heard much about improper trail maintenance in recent months.

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) also helps keep an eye on the Marys Peak area.

BCSO Corporal Al Schermerhorn agreed that he hasn’t heard much about the Marys Peak trails since summer.

“We do occasionally have problems, but I don’t believe that we’ve had any more problems up there,” he said.

Sometimes mountain bikers can create problems when they make rogue trails throughout the area, too, according to Schermerhorn.

But he added that groups like Team Dirt, which is a dedicated group of volunteers that make up the local International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) chapter, are good for the community.

“Team Dirt is trying to do a lot of good things and educate [people],” Schermerhorn said.

 And the majority of mountain bikers in the community would probably prefer to keep the trails legit and technical elements in place, as they’re meant to be—bumps and all.

 By Abbie Tumbleson