Anyone who’s spent much time in the Klamath Basin knows that the potential for outdoor recreation here is almost unlimited. We have scenic views, a diversity of landscapes and wildlife, and year-round recreation possibilities — from sunny days in summer to snowy mountains in winter. Hikers, mountain bikers, trail runners, equestrians, and cross-country skiers all enjoy the many formal and informal trails that exist in our area.

Like most efforts, this doesn’t happen on its own. Many local groups and public agencies have worked over the years to create and maintain the trails that we currently enjoy, and this year, a new group — Klamath Trails Alliance — has been formed to focus exclusively on trails and to catalyze further trail development.

Alliance mission

Our mission is to develop, maintain, and promote trail networks for non-motorized recreation in the Klamath Basin. We are a nonprofit, currently applying for 501(c)(3) status, that aims to work with other private and public groups to accomplish these ends.

One of our visions — which will take years to complete — is a 200-plus mile network of trails that encircles Upper Klamath Lake, that would link with existing amenities including Moore Park, the Running Y Ranch, Lake of the Woods, the Pacific Crest Trail, Crater Lake National Park and the OC&E Trail.

This vision — the Great Klamath Circle — would provide opportunities for folks looking for recreation opportunities, ranging from a half-hour birding excursion to a day-long mountain bike ride to a week-long backpacking trip.

The challenges

Part of the challenge we face is developing and promoting safe and high-quality trail opportunities — creating safer formal trails and trailheads where some have only existed informally, and establishing formal agreements with landowners to avoid friction with them or with motorized use.

Klamath Trails Alliance has already partnered with local groups, including Friends of Moore Park, to continue to improve the new Klamath Ridge View Trail.

We’ve helped work to decommission old unsafe and unsanctioned paths in Moore Park and replace them with higher-quality sustainable trails. We’ve been talking with public agencies and private landowners in the Klamath Basin to propose new trail networks that we believe will be exciting for current residents and will help bring in more tourism from outside Klamath Falls.

Limited funding

But we need help doing this. Public agencies have limited funds for trail development; they need our help to bring additional resources and volunteers to bear. Many private landowners want to promote access to their lands, but need partners they can count on to keep trails safe and keep use within appropriate limits. We need assistance laying out and building new trails. We need volunteers for trail workdays to help maintain existing trails and keep them safe.

We need to continue to build relationships with public and private landowners, and we need financial support to carry out this work, and to promote these trails both within and outside our community.

How to help

If you use local trails yourself, if you think outdoor recreation is an important part of the Klamath Basin’s future, or if you just want to have more options for spending time outdoors, please consider joining Klamath Trails Alliance and contributing time or money to the effort.

More information and membership forms are located online at klamathtrails.org. Please consider coming to our inaugural membership meeting, which will be at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 25 at Hutch’s Bike Shop.

And most importantly, go out and enjoy and appreciate the outdoor opportunities that are right here in our backyard! We’ll see you on the trails.

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