NWTA Board Bios – Paul Hobson

Paul has been an on- and off-road cyclist and cycling advocate for the past 15 years. He cut his teeth in the bike world commuting to and from college in Atlanta, GA. After finishing his master’s degree in civil engineering, focusing on sediment transport and erosion, he relocated to Portland where he has worked for the past decade as a licensed civil engineer. Since moving to Portland, mountain biking has become a true passion for Paul. He carries a foldable saw in the pack on trail roads in hopes he’ll be able to clear a few trees. On rainy weekends, he likes to comb through the Forest Service’s GIS data in search of semi-abandoned mountain bike-legal trails that could be cleared and reopened for all users.

Paul joined the NWTA board in 2018 to use both his passion and his technical knowledge to further NWTA’s mission of advocating and maintaining sustainable trails in one of the world’s most beautiful regions.

You can reach Paul at [email protected].

How and when did you first get involved with NWTA (joined NWTA and became a board member)?

My first ever activity with NWTA was a dig day where the volunteers finished off Flow Motion after Jason Wells (then IMBA Trail Solutions, now Sasquatch Trails) had shaped it with the machine. I think I spent 2 hours building a drain that would take me 15 minutes now. The energy of the community that day is what drew me in. I want to say that was 2015 or so. I joined the NWTA board of directors in 2018 after my buddy Andrew (the treasurer) said they were looking for volunteers.

Why did you join the NWTA board?

I wanted (and still want) to give back to the trails that we have and to expand access to nature for the community Portland metro area. I also wanted to lend my education and training (water resources, sediment transport) to the advocacy side.

What part of NWTA’s mission resonates with you? What are your plans to help move this forward?

My original motivations for joining NWTA and the board of directors remain, but my passion for trail design and building has grown in the past couple of years. It’s one thing to hike and ride through nature. But it’s also a great experience to explore and scope out new trails. It takes me back to my childhood days of running unsupervised through the neighborhood’s patches of woods.

Thankfully, we have such a good group of volunteers that I can spend my time on the board building relationships with land managers and other user groups to improve mountain biking around Portland and the rest of the state.

When did you first start mountain biking/what was your first bike?

My buddy Austin Crenshaw was my first friend to show me around Tillamook State Forest and the 44Trails System near Mt. Hood. During those long car rides out to the trailhead, I began to care about having trails closer to town and ideally wouldn’t require a car to get to. The first bike I had was a blue department store Huffy BMX bike. The first mountain bike that I bought in 2012 was a black Cannondale Trail 29er. I still have the frame. Despite being a budget-friendly model (that was on sale), it has exquisite paint. It’s predominantly black with silver accents and very subtle sparkle to it.

What do you love about mountain biking?

Well, there are very few things I don’t like about mountain biking. Being out in nature is the number one reason I do it. Hot on its heels is the combination of fitness and skills required to clean a tricky section of trail. I love going downhill, but there is something so satisfying about cleaning a steep, technical climb for the first time.

Favorite place to ride?

There’s something so magical about every trail at Mt. St. Helens. The 2018 and 2019 SHIFT reopened trails on the western slope of the mountain that are absolutely stunning. If you get a chance, take the Toutle Trail north to Sheep’s Canyon. The climb up Sheep’s isn’t easy, but you can distract yourself with huckleberries and views of these incredible and ancient white firs that survived the last eruption. And turn left on the Loowit to enjoy one of the best descents in the region and then ride back to the trailhead on the Toutle Trail. We call that route the Toutlepop.

Favorite tool to use on the trail?

I want to say my collapsable TrailBoss with a Rogue Hoe head. But with the work I’ve been doing at Rocky Point, a pair of loppers seems to be what I use most. I seem to have become obsessed with removing all the little pokey stubs of branches from the trees on the side of the trail. It’s not glamorous work, but it keeps the trails safe.

What do you do during the day (that pays your bills)?

I’m an environmental consultant focusing on water resources projects that primarily deal with industrial stormwater pollution prevention and sediment/erosion control.

What song do you listen to to get pumped up (for a ride or for a dig day?)

Ooh. This really depends on the ride. If I’m headed out to Rocky Point, I need something that’s as punchy as the climbs. Anything in the Metz (from Toronto) discography takes care of that. But if I’m headed out to Mt. St Helens or Mt Hood for a 5-hr excursion, I’ll pick something that is still up beat but mellow enough that I pace myself through the day. For that, pretty much anything out of the Maserati (from Athens, GA) fits that bill.

Anything else you want to share about yourself with our members?

Are you passionate about the trails near Portland? The board of directors has currently open positions and is always looking for new directors. Get in touch with me ([email protected]) if you’re interested in becoming a director or using your skills and knowledge to assist the Board of Directors with particular tasks.