Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA)—Building Biking Trails for Every Type of Rider in Bend & Central Oregon

Every spring, Central Oregon mountain bikers transition from a snowy winter and start gearing up for a long and lively season of riding the region’s singletrack through forests of pine, wide-open desert expanses, and epic alpine slopes.

Those memorable rides are made possible by nonprofits like the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA) and Oregon Adaptive Sports—organizations that keep our 600-plus miles of singletrack in pristine condition and that are eager to make this riding season (and those to come) some of the best ever.

This season, COTA Executive Director Emmy Andrews and her crew have plenty of plans and projects that riders will soon see all over the region—with new trails, skills parks, and more coming for mountain bike riders, adaptive bikes, and even e-bikes. Here’s a look at what’s in store—and where you can enjoy COTA’s work this summer and beyond.

New Skills Parks & Bike Routes Coming to Bend and Central Oregon

Perhaps most exciting is all the work going into skills development in zones that already have trails nearby (multiple trailheads in and near Bend, Sisters, Madras and Prineville). Such approachable features as berms, table tops and rollers allow riders to sharpen their technique—especially those all-important cornering, pumping, jumping, and technical climbing and descending skills. 

One such zone slated for updates is the beloved Wanoga Snow Play Area Sno-Park and trail complex, situated an easy 20-minute drive southwest of Bend. Not only will the existing pump track and skills area receive a makeover—making it even better for a larger range of riders—but COTA will also work to add some “sessionable” downhill runs on the sledding hill adjacent to the parking lot.

Mountain biking in Central Oregon

Andrews says the plan is to create an area where riders can enjoy short, engaging downhills on everything from blue-square (intermediate) terrain up to double blacks (experts only). The runs will be short enough that riders can pedal back to the top in minutes and practice again and again on the jumps, drops, and berms.

“It’s going to make Wanoga such a fun place to hang out!” Andrews says. “There will just be a ton of options and [the new features] will create a hub there.”

Also on the update list and just down the hill from Wanoga is one of the newest Bend bike trails, Royal Flush, a fast and feature-rich downhill-only flow trail that’s quickly becoming a local favorite. This one-mile-long section will soon connect into another new favorite, Afternoon Delight—a 4.2 mile joy-inducing link from the Tyler’s Trailhead to the Sunriver-area trails. Expect work to begin as soon as the snow starts to melt.

Similar to the work at Wanoga, the skills area at the famous Phil’s Trailhead will also get a refresh. While the little pump track—perfect for younger riders, even those on strider bikes—will remain largely the same, Andrews says the existing jump lines and rollers will be “completely reinvisioned” for better progression. In other words, riders can start small and build into the bigger stuff—everybody wins!

Not to be outdone, the quaint western-themed town of Sisters, just 30 minutes northwest of Bend, is also home to an ever-expanding network of trails and, yes, a skills park. Bike Park 242 is perhaps one of the best kept secrets in town—and its rollers, jumps and berms are about to get a whole lot sweeter, thanks in part to a grant from Visit Central Oregon and a lot of hard work from COTA and its legion of volunteers.

Working with the professional builders at Black Sage Dirt Works—the singletrack geniuses behind Royal Flush—COTA will update Bike Park 242’s jump lines and drainage issues, build new wood ramps, add paint and signage and…voila: Another fun mountain bike skills spot that’s perfect for the whole family. All work should be completed by early summer 2023.

“It’s been such a fun project to be involved in,” Andrews said. “It’s really cool to see the community step up.”

Bonus: Look for more trails to be added in and around the Peterson Ridge Trail system, thanks to work from the Sisters Trail Alliance which often works with COTA to plan and design singletrack fun.

New Bend Bike Trail Updates—Easier Navigation on the Horizon

Mountain biking in Sisters, Oregon

Thanks to funds from contributing partners and work from volunteers—who in 2022 logged more than 14,000 hours on Bend bike trails and beyond—COTA will be adding even more handmade trail signs at junctions and trail maps at popular trailheads.

From Phil’s and Swampy Lake Sno-Park, to Tyler’s and Green Gate (a popular access point for the rowdier Funner and Tiddlywinks trails), getting around the abundance of Bend bike trails is about to get a whole lot easier.

“We’re hoping it’s a place where you can go that feels welcoming,” Andrews said.

Hot Tip: Parking at Green Gate is a clever way to please everyone in your party. Downhill-oriented shredders can enjoy the aforementioned Funner and Tiddlywinks black diamond trails, as well as Tyler’s Traverse, while more intermediate or cross-country style riders will relish Storm King, Larsen’s and Catch & Release—all perfect for XC athletes or those new to the sport. Again, when it comes to Bend bike trails, everyone wins.

An Adaptive Mountain Biking Paradise—COTA’s Mission to Expand Bike Access

Royal Flush, Tiddlywinks and other nearby trails are also popular with adaptive mountain bikers who love a good downhill rip. And Oregon Adaptive Sports (OAS) is here to help. The area non-profit provides “life-changing outdoor recreation experiences to individuals with disabilities” and in the warmer months that means getting folks out for adventure.

“We’re gearing up for a big summer,” says OAS Executive Director Pat Addabbo. OAS has multiple, state-of-the-art adaptive mountain bikes (which often retail for $15,000 or more) and provides programs, lessons and camps throughout the summer. Those interested in OAS programs can sign up for private lessons on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between early June and early September. 

“We break down barriers in access to equipment,” Addabbo noted. “We want to provide a well-rounded, full-value mountain bike experience for our athletes.” 

Adaptive Mountain Biker on Trail in Central Oregon

Photo by Oregon Adaptive Sports

Working closely with adaptive mountain biking experts like Quinn Brett, who was the first adaptive cyclist to complete the 2,745-mile Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail, COTA has identified more than 200 miles of Central Oregon trails as ideal for adaptive bikes and bikers.

Addabbo reminded that just as non-adaptive cyclists enjoy technical riding and flow trails, the same is true of adaptive riders. “In general, Central Oregon is already an amazing place to ride for adaptive mountain bikers,” Addabbo said, citing larger trails with a wider footprint in the likes of Bend, Sisters, and Prineville. “We’re refining an experience that already exists,” he said, noting partnerships with COTA and Visit Central Oregon. In fact, Royal Flush was built with adaptive cyclists in mind.

“Not only is [Royal Flush] a premier experience for non-adaptive riders, it’s a favorite for adaptive riders,” Addabbo said.

Off-road, Urban Paths Cater to E-Bike Riders Across Central Oregon

Riding e-bikes in Bend, Oregon

For those looking to ride with an electric assist, COTA’s Andrews reminds that not only are the miles of singletrack at the Madras East Hills Network open to e-bikes but so too are the eight-plus miles of rolling hills at the Radlands Trails Complex. Located on the eastern edge of Redmond, Radlands is a locally adored e-bike spot that also happens to be one of several areas open for year-round riding. (Of course, that’s to say nothing of the many neighborhood boulevards and bike paths where e-bikes can roam throughout the region for a quieter, less intense ride.)

Additionally, many of the thousands (yes, thousands) of miles of adventure gravel rides offered up on the Dirty Freehub site, which feature little-known rides all over Oregon and the Northwest, are also open to e-bikes.

“I’m a big believer that there is enough public land for all of us,” said Andrews.

If, by now, you’re detecting a theme, that’s intentional. COTA is all about creating connectivity: between trails, between riders and between riders and their bikes (remember all those skills parks?). It’s one of their guiding principles.

How to Get Involved and Support New Bike Trail Access

Sound good? Of course it does. Want to give back? That’s easy! Lend a hand or a few bucks.

“We are completely funded by riders and grants,” Andrews noted. “Being a member is super helpful to us. We would encourage people to be part of this work.” Because, as they say, the trails won’t build themselves.

“If people come and have a great time, we’d love to receive a donation as a thank you.”

Mountain biking in Sisters, Oregon

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