Coyote Wall Mountain Bike Trail in the Gorge to Be Buffed Up With Federal Cash

New dirt along the stomach-churning cliff could be done by July 4.

Mountain bikers on the Coyote Wall Trail outside of Bingen, Wash. (Anthony Effinger)

One of the most popular mountain bike trails in the Pacific Northwest is getting a major upgrade.

The Coyote Wall Trail, also known as the Syncline Trail, runs along the top of a basalt cliff just east of Bingen, Wash., in the Columbia River Gorge. For years, it’s been a (really fun) tangle of ruts through wild grasses.

On April 1, the U.S. Forest Service will begin work on 2.6 miles of engineered single track from Atwood Road down to the Old Ranch Road Trail. The agency expects to complete the project by July 4. Like the old one, the new trail will be open to hikers, too.

Given the large mountain-biking population, the Gorge has precious few dedicated trails. Of the 194 miles of National Forest System trails in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, just 37 miles are open to bicycles, and only 19 miles are designed and managed for bike use, the Forest Service says.

Funding for project comes from the Great American Outdoor Act, signed by President Donald Trump in August 2020, which provides $9.5 billion for overdue maintenance at national parks and other public lands.

So far, according to High Country News, that money has gone to fixing up the Hurricane Ridge day lodge at Olympic National Park ($7 million), replacing a water treatment plant at the Grand Canyon ($40.5 million), and rebuilding roads, bridges and water plants at Yellowstone National Park ($317.7 million).

Ptarmigan Trails, based in Port Orford, won the contract to build the trail. They will use two trail-specific mini-excavators and, when necessary, hand tools, the Forest Service said.

To keep out invasive plants, all equipment will be washed before use. Rare plants will be transplanted before construction. No work will happen within 200 feet of the cliff’s edge if peregrine falcons are nesting there.

The Coyote Wall Trail isn’t for the faint of heart. Some sections run within a few feet of the west-facing cliff. In 2005, a mountain biker named Jeffrey Allen Johnson, 49, went over the edge, fell 200 feet, and died, according to the Columbia Gorge News.

The trail is to be the first of four new ones in the area. The Bitterroot Trail (2.3 miles) is scheduled for 2026. Tracy Hill (3 miles) is coming in 2027. The Burdoin Mountain Trail (1.9 miles) is supposed to be completed 2028.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.