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DailyTidings.com
  • Medford mulls 34 miles of new mountain bike trails

    System proposed for Roxy Ann Peak area
  • A world-class mountain bike trail system could crisscross Prescott Park around Roxy Ann Peak in the near future.
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  • A world-class mountain bike trail system could crisscross Prescott Park around Roxy Ann Peak in the near future.
    The city of Medford has been working with the International Mountain Biking Association to develop a plan for 34 miles of trails that would be available to cyclists, hikers and horses.
    "A lot of mountain bikers felt left out not having their own world-class trail system locally," said Mike Bronze, president of the Rogue Valley Mountain Biking Association. "More people now see the value in having the trail system here in Medford."
    Ashland, the Applegate and Johns Peak outside Jacksonville all have trail systems that appeal to mountain bikers. For years, Roxy Ann has been eyed as a possible area, but the idea languished until Medford officials took another look at it about a year ago.
    The city developed an $8,000 contract with the Trail Solutions team of the International Mountain Biking Association to design a conceptual plan for the system, which would feature trails ranging from very easy to extremely difficult.
    Many trails would be geared toward mountain bikers specifically, offering switchbacks and other technical challenges. All the trails would be available for mixed use.
    The park has about four miles of trails already, and an additional 30 miles would be created. Existing trails would be upgraded to limit erosion and improve their usefulness. Some existing trails would be rerouted to help with ongoing maintenance issues.
    The estimate to build the trail system ranges from between $360,000 and $720,000, which could be partially paid for through grants.
    Under the design proposal, the first phase of the project would involve 10 miles of new trails.
    Trail Solutions recommends creating a new trailhead for the park farther up the 3,576-foot peak, with parking for 25 to 30 cars and a restroom.
    Fencing and gates should be built on the west side of the park to prevent off-road vehicle use that has damaged roads and vegetation, Trail Solutions recommends.
    Brian Sjothun, director of Medford Parks and Recreation, said his department has about $50,000 budgeted for the trail system, which will act as seed money. Work on some trails could begin within the next two years, depending on the city approval process, he said.
    Sjothun said the city will partner with the Rogue Valley Mountain Biking Association to raise additional dollars and provide ongoing maintenance for the trails.
    The design of the trail system was presented to the Medford Parks and Recreation Commission, which will continue to study the plan through September.
    The drawings presented to the city show trails crisscrossing many areas of Prescott Park that are difficult to access now. Each trail is given a difficulty rating.
    "It really is a biker's dream," Sjothun said.
    Rich Hansen, chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission, said he was impressed with the design of the trail system.
    He said it is the first comprehensive trail network plan he has seen locally.
    "It's a brand-new subject for the Parks Commission," he said. "It's hard not to like it."
    Reach Mail Tribune reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com.
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