A year ago, Portland mountain bikers had only a third of a square mile they could call their own.

Now, they have 25 acres.

Linda Robinson, chair of Friends of Gateway Green. (Christine Dong)
Linda Robinson, chair of Friends of Gateway Green. (Christine Dong)

After 12 years of planning, fundraising and bureaucratic process, Gateway Green opened last June. Initiated by volunteers, the plan was designed to solve two problems: revive a vacant lot sandwiched between I-205 and I-84 that once housed a county jail, and create a park for Portland's trailless off-road cyclists. Before Gateway Green, the only single-track mountain bike trail in the city was a sliver in Forest Park. Cyclists briefly claimed River View Natural Area as an unofficial mountain bike park until they were officially banned in 2015.

Now that it's finally here, it's glorious. There's single-track trails through trees and one that snakes down a big, grassy hill. There are dirt pump tracks, a cement pump track. There are  beginner-level jumps all the way up to massive, expert-level jumps. Best of all, you can bike to the bike playground: Gateway Green is directly off the I-205 pedestrian path, and within walking distance of a MAX stop.

It's still a work in progress. In the future, the park will have a multiuse path, will be ADA accessible and, hopefully, will have solar-powered lighting that will enable the park to stay open 24/7. Still, any improvements are just an appendage—a major missing piece in Portland's recreational cycling infrastructure is finally in place.