Spence Mountain

Spence MountainPhoto credit: Klamath Trails Alliance

Every week hikers and bikers of all ages put tread to trail along 35 miles of paths tracing up and over Spence Mountain. Just 10 miles outside the City of Klamath Falls, Spence Mountain rises some 5,800 feet over Upper Klamath Lake in Southern Oregon. For years, Klamath Trails Alliance has developed and maintained miles of running, hiking, and biking trails on Spence Mountain, creating close-to-home trails for community members and a recreation destination for visitors.
Local teams like the Jackalopes, a community-run youth mountain biking team, and the Linkville Lopers, an adult running group, practice and race at Spence Mountain. Volunteers from the community maintain the trails to ensure that hikers, bikers, and explorers of all abilities find the right trail on Spence Mountain. Groups like these encourage residents to experience the physical, mental, and community health benefits of time spent on the trail.
Today, access to trails for the Jackalopes and others isn’t guaranteed by public ownership, but invited by the landowner who recognizes the benefits of Spence Mountain to the community. Should the landowner choose to sell or develop the land, community members would lose access to these beloved trails. Together with the landowner and local partners, The Trust for Public Land is working to prevent development and protect public access on Spence Mountain.
Drew Honzel, an avid trail user and Klamath Trails Alliance secretary, has witnessed the positive impact of outdoor recreation at Spence Mountain on his community, “Public trail access has given us a healthier Klamath Falls, but our concern lies in the future if the current landowner were to ever sell the property. For this reason we are fully committed to protecting Spence Mountain as a public community outdoor recreation space for future generations to enjoy.”
The Trust for Public Land will use a community forest model to conserve Spence Mountain. Protected as a community forest, Spence Mountain will be managed by Klamath County for the benefit of the community. Public access will be guaranteed and the Klamath Trails Alliance will expand the existing trail network, creating a regional biking destination. Expanded public access will strengthen the local recreation economy, allowing local businesses and residents to benefit from this shared community asset.
Klamath County will oversee sustainable timberland management to generate revenue and strengthen forest resilience to prevent and mitigate catastrophic wildfires. The 7,500-acre community forest will protect important habitat for endangered species within the Klamath Basin, expand the Klamath Wildlife Area, and prevent encroachment on nearby landscapes.
Behind every acre conserved, is a community determined to save the lands we love. Spence Mountain and its multitude of community benefits have earned the project robust support at the local, regional, and national level. This project has received instrumental financial support from The Conservation Alliance and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through Walmart’s Acres for America Program. Blue Zones Klamath and the Udall Foundation have identified the benefits to health and wellbeing provided by local access to Spence Mountain, and are investing in community programs that promote health, environmental stewardship, and cultural awareness via time spent outside. The Trust for Public Land and community partners are honored to have the unanimous support of the Klamath County Commissioners and project endorsements from U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden.
This project will require concerted effort from The Trust for Public Land and local partners over the next several years. Together, we will leverage the power of public access to fortify community, promote health, protect habitat, and strengthen economic vitality for generations to come.