The trailhead sign and parking lot is up at Dungeness Trails, a trail system now open to the communit. Submitted photo

The trailhead sign and parking lot is up at Dungeness Trails, a trail system now open to the communit. Submitted photo

Cycling Around: Dungeness Trails awaits

  • Wednesday, December 11, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

If you’re into mountain biking or gravel bike riding, there’s a new game in town: Dungeness Trails.

Well, not so “new” since it’s been in development for two years now.

But the finishing touches have been finished and the trail system is fully open to mountain bikers, hikers, joggers, dog-walkers, horseback riders and anyone who just wants to wander around the nearly 400 acres along River Road southwest of Sequim.

Dungeness Trails is a non-motorized trail system, meaning no dirt-bikes or other combustion engine vehicles. E-bikes are allowed, but only Class 2 and under as is the case on most area trails.

The trail network is on Department of Natural Resources (DNR) land that was harvested in 2015 and has been selected as the site for a future off-channel reservoir and county park once it is transferred from the state’s DNR to Clallam County.

After a couple of “recon rides” in late 2017, though, mountain bikers in the Olympic Peninsula Bicycling Association (OPBA) saw an opportunity to make good use of the property in the interim and create a real recreational asset for Sequim.

In 2018, OPBA signed an Adopt-a-Trails agreement with DNR, and work began on improving and connecting the “pirate” trails, trace roads, and deer and elk runs that wound through the property. The vision was to develop a network of single-track dirt and gravel trails designed primarily for mountain bike riders but attractive and accessible to a wide range of other users as well.

That vision has pretty much been realized now, with most of the existing network on the DNR land west of River Road. Trail marker signs on this part of the property are labeled “DTW” (for Dungeness Trails West). A new parking area has been built at the southern entrance gate under the power lines about three-fourths of a mile south of Happy Valley Road.

The Washington Conservation Corps — a key partner as well — put in an information kiosk late this summer and now there is a large map, announcements, and trail brochures (with a map) there.

Several trails, “Highland East,” “Cougar’s Lair,” and “Happy Valley Ridge,” have been completed on the east side of River Road south of Happy Valley.

As you’d imagine, the trail marker signs there are labeled “DTE” for Dungeness Trails East. OPBA plans to build new trails throughout this area and has just begun surveying the terrain to map out great new routes.

Two road crossings on River Road connect the east and west parts of the network, and two others are planned to enable trail users to cross Spoorseen Road safely.

Trails are rated on level of difficulty for mountain bike riders, so check the map before you head out to make sure you’re skilled and experienced enough to tackle a specific trail.

For those who want an easy ride, as well as for gravel bike riders wanted to avoid single-track trails, following the “Northern Trace,” “Powerline,” “Highland,” and “Olympic View” trails are the best bet.

At some point, the property will transfer from DNR to Clallam County and planning for the off-channel reservoir, which will cover more than 80 acres, will accelerate. Even though the need for the reservoir is already clear and compelling, it’ll likely be years before it becomes a reality.

Meanwhile, OPBA will keep developing and maintaining the trail network and work closely with the County to integrate it fully into the new county park whenever that becomes a reality.

For now, Dungeness Trails is out there, ready for your enjoyment!

Oh, and OPBA has an exclusive group of dedicated volunteers — the Dungeness Trails Stewards — and they’re always looking for a few (more) good men and women to join them!

Ken Stringer is a Sequim resident.

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