I-5 Collonade Singletrack

Imagine being able to commute to work through the city on Singletrack

Seattle’s I-5 Colonnade Mountain Bike Skills Park

page 12-13, Issue #5
-Justin Craig

Simon Lawton took up one hell of a project when he set out to reclaim an otherwise useless expanse under I-5 in the Eastlake neighborhood. Now after years of work Seattle is well on its way to having the most elaborate, permanent urban mountain bike park in the world.

John Zilly’s idea of building the Colonnade was put into motion when Lawton moved to the Eastlake neighborhood ten years ago. After years of work with area residents and the city, it looked as if the dream was finally possible. With the Seattle taxpayer’s approval of the Pro-Parks Levy, the idea began to become a reality. The project proved possible; Lawton went to Back Country Bicycle Trails Club for their help.

When Lawton contacted the BBTC, they began the long process of grant writing, planning, and volunteer coordination. Breaking ground on construction just about one year ago, the trails are growing at an alarming rate. Now with less than one year until the expected completion, the park is really taking shape.

A trip to the Colonnade shows just how large this project is. The park is reminiscent of something between ancient Rome and the Burnside skate park in Portland. First off the park is huge; cut into a hillside with views of Lake Union only enhances this feeling. Covering nearly 5 acres with 2 of those acres being strictly dedicated to off-road biking—this is no small undertaking. The entire area is kept dry for year round riding by the I-5 freeway towering high above.

For more images from the Collonade from Cranked, check out the Flickr photoset.

The novice section of the park is now nearing its completion. The focus will now shift from large boulders and retaining walls to more traditional trail building as well as more wooden structures such as bridges and log rides. There are many more ideas in the queue for the Colonnade as well; when completed the park will house a trials area, BMX lines, flow lines, rock chutes, progressive drops, both novice and advanced cross country trails and a pump track.

The BBTC relies on volunteers and donations to keep this project running. On several trips to the Colonnade the place has been buzzing with activity. Wheelbarrows zigzag the hillside moving gravel, bedrock and large boulders into place. With the guidance of expert trail builders, and the hard work of countless volunteers the park is taking shape quickly, but more help is always needed.

There are plenty of ways for you to help complete the Colonnade, both financially and physically. The BBTC has a new major fund-raising project. They are now selling 12” engraved granite rocks. Now you can show your support for the Colonnade, for everyone to see. There are donation levels for both individuals and corporations. Why should you support the Colonnade? Because as BBTC puts it; this is about more than just one urban park. This project is helping cities change the way they think of off-road biking.

Don’t have pockets filled with cash, no worries, there’s plenty of physical labor to be done too. Whether it’s moving wheelbarrows of gravel, clearing trails or setting stones, there’s a job to match every ones physical abilities. The more volunteers that help in fund-raising and construction, the faster the Colonnade will be completed and the sooner we can all be riding mountain bikes in the heart of our city.

Next time you’re cruising through the Eastlake and Capitol Hill junction, take a moment to admire all the hard work that’s gone into making the Colonnade come to life. Then tell a friend, better yet, invite a friend and come out to a work party.

Find out more by visiting the Colonnade’s website at bbtc.org/colonnade where you can find work party schedules and how you can help donate to the project.

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