Creators of the Spence Mountain Trail, an area used for mountain biking, hiking and — when the snow permits — cross-country skiing, are planning to add 10 miles of new, mostly easy trails in 2018.
To help ensure that happens, Ed and Sheryl Beverly, self-described baby boomers, have created a Green Trail Challenge. The Beverlys have donated $10,000 and hope people will match their bequest. They note that while the trail system is in Klamath County west of Klamath Falls, the area is seeing increasingly heavy use, especially from Rogue Valley mountain bikers.
The trail system is being developed by Klamath Trails Alliance. Drew Honzel, the group's secretary, notes 44 percent of those who signed the trail register are from outside the Klamath Basin, with the majority from the Rogue Valley. Along with becoming a mountain-biking destination, the trail system is increasingly being used by long-distance runners. A variety of trail runs, including a 50-kilometer race, are planned next June.
But the Beverlys focus is adding less-difficult trails for beginners and boomers.
"This is going to be a come out and cruise it section," Ed said of KTA's plans to develop 10 miles of trails near the newly developed Shoalwater Bay Trailhead in 2018. "Bring your kids, bring your grandkids."
"Bring your grandma," quipped Sheryl, 61, a retired teacher, during a walk along a portion of the future trail. "Ed and I are interested because we can get out and ride and get a good workout and not put our lives at risk. This will be so much fun."
The Beverlys see their donation as a way of paying back for their years living in the Klamath Basin.
"Sheryl and I have lived all of our adult lives here," explained Ed, 70, who retired after working as a project manager for a general contractor. "Our wonderful weather plus the great community that we live in makes it easy to stay busy and active."
Both Beverlys emphasize their challenge grant is aimed at creating a healthy environment for them and future generations, and to make a contribution that is more than just monetary.
"We want to help create something that creates a legacy," Sheryl explained. "To do something so that more people can use the trail."
The Beverlys also believe the recently completed Shoalwater Bay Trailhead, located two miles off Highway 140 on the north side of Doak Mountain, will serve a variety of users. The trailhead, with parking for about 50 vehicles, is already connected to an existing trail network. Unusually, pods for two or three vehicles were created, not just a single massive parking lot. Picnic tables and an information kiosk will be added next year.
More immediately, because the county road to Eagle Ridge is paved year-around, they hope the new trails will also be used by cross-country skiers and snowshoers.
Honzel, Spence project manager, hopes the new trails will appeal to a wider audience, including walkers, families and active baby boomers like Ed and Sheryl.
"Proud baby boomers we are. Active we are," said Ed, who is recovering from injuries and has shifted away from hardcore sports like climbing and skiing. "I have rebuilt shoulders. I can comb my hair again. We active seniors are setting new standards. I'm happy to dial down the risk factor in all my activities to remain engaged. Scarred but happy we are to have the opportunity in this next chapter of our lives."
People interested in supporting the Green Trail Challenge can provide an online donation or mail a check to the Klamath Trails Alliance Spence Fund, P.O. Box 347, Klamath Falls, OR 97601. To make an online donation, go to www.klamathtrails.org, then scroll to "Donate To the Spence Mountain Fund."
— Reach freelance writer Lee Juillerat at email@example.com or 541-880-4139.