Trail talk:I-5 Colonnade
From Evergreen Trail Guide
- Colonnade Park was a dream that is being realized into a reality wherein the future of mountain biking is being re-established much as it began, as a sub-community united. How can i state this without coming off as being overly sentimental, being how i've been loosely tied to this project for a few years now. As a volunteer that attended meetings, to helping assist Art, Mike, Jim, Dave, Walt, and countless other hands moving tons of stone on Limestone Loop, to currently overseeing the construction of a dual Interpretive Skills Building Trail (Currently named The Tqalu Trail). With a bit of foresight, and some self admitted naive hope, i believed in The Colonnade Park project, and thought it as a window of opportunity, that we as a mountain bike community could not let pass by. But beyond that now it has surpassed the positive expectations i dared to believe and envision before. i will illustrate.
- The original park proposal was a give away. Dead space the city had no clear vision on what to do with. With challenging terrain, dreadfully dry soil, and foul conditions typical for a homeless retreat. Who would be willing to do anything with an area where thousand of hypodermic needles littered the ground. The proposal moved to give a place where mountain bikers could call their own. The first of it's kind Mountain Bike Skills Park in the Puget Sound area, finally an opportunity to show land managers our salt.
- At first work parties were sparse, with limited funds, difficult working conditions and limited tools and resources. This along with dry dusty soil that when wet from flooding turns into a greasy goopy sludge. Intensive drainage, a massive network of rock retaining walls, and tons of cobble, gravel, and wood were needed to complete what is now known as Limestone Loop. It should be noted that this trail is the foundation of everything else that takes place at Colonnade, it's the rock that will enable the stability for current and future projects to grow. Being in construction i was familiar with the challenges this park faced, and knew the project could gain momentum with each new section of trail completed. Volunteer and funding at first was at a premium, and i did everything i knew in my power to promote the park. Using internet message boards, emails, word of mouth, and photography, i banged the drum, because i knew that the most awe inspiring construction projects always look terrible up until they are near completion. With volunteer labor we were able to pull it off. With the original project manager and trail designer Art Tuftee there was a pursuit of creating trail that not only was done right, but each stone was literally placed to near perfection. Mike Westra continued as managing duties were transferred to him, and pursued to complete the trail with imaginative flair while also keeping respectfully true to Art's vision. Today we are blessed to have an aesthetically beautiful skills building trail, that will stand the test of time. Countless non bikers and bikers alike that i have talked to at the park have expressed their appreciation at how beautiful the trail turned out. It truly is a wonder to behold.
- The final phase of the trail is currently underway. And the momentum is definitely building as strong turnouts of volunteers are now the norm on weekends, and riders are turning out in force and riding the trails. With 6 major trail projects moving forward, as well as many sub-trails being added it's beginning to be an easy guess that Colonnade will turn into a major destination for riders of all skill levels. For it's not only a place to ride, it's a place for the mountain bike community to meet. We have employees from 2 local bike shops actively participating in creating the Trials area, and the Pump Track. i've seen people from all walks of life stroll through the park. From weekend warriors, to mountain bike manufacturer reps, to former bootleg trail builders, to founding members of BBTC. i've ridden with Pro-level riders here as well as backcountry cross country riders, to bikers who are rediscovering the joy of riding, and i've even given a tour to a large bike group from the King County Sheriffs Department. i've seen every kind of mountain bike imaginable, which includes a couple unicycles.
- There has never been a place where it's been possible to bring in riders from all different walks of life together in this way. Opportunities to network, opportunities to learn about mountain biking from each other, and inevitably opportunities to grow and expand. It provides not only a place to hone our skills, but it provides easy access from the public to witness some of the amazing fun things we do. Pulled from deep in the forest and out in the open for all to see. A true showcase, that serves as not only a learning tool so that we can ourselves become more proficient in our riding abilities, but provide an interest in mountain biking to bring more people on board to what we've derived so much positive pleasure from.
- i'm happy to say that my hopes and dreams are being realized through this park. Being in an area that we have been persecuted as a user-group, we've been denied access to trails, some that were built by mountain bikers. And in our short history our club has had our success measured more by concession, trying to minimize what we lose instead of having the ability to focus on what we can gain. Maybe that's why we were so successful with this project, in so much as turning dead space into something beautiful, we are experienced in being able to play the hand we're dealt. We as a community aspire to create beautiful trails, fun opportunities in which to recreate, and have the desire and knowhow to participate in enriching the community. For so long we have heard many of our arguments silenced as if we have no voice, well i would say that the Colonnade Mountain Bike Skills Park is one song in an ongoing symphony. Now after so many years we have a stage on which we shall be better understood. 1-2-8 Tim Banning
- FWIW, a few comments from a guy relatively new to mountain biking and who doesn't get out to Seattle that much anymore... I first heard about this park via the website. I knew I had to check it out and see what all the hype was about. It really couldn't have been overrated - Colonnade rocks! In fact, Colonnade is the only thing that brings me out to Seattle from the eastside once a week. I attended the official grand opening last Saturday to show my support, and want to say here for the record "Thank You" to everyone who put in their time and money to put this park together. I'm looking forward to volunteering at Duthie Hill when the work gets under way. R1de 20:11, 14 September 2008 (PDT)