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Phil’s Trailhead skills area, pump track to close for 2 weeks of maintenance; COTA plans 2 phases of upgrades

Deschutes National Forest

(Update: More details from COTA on plans to enhance area)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — The Phil’s Trailhead skills area and pump track west of Bend will temporarily close next week, for about two weeks of maintenance activities, the start of a two-phase plan to enhance and upgrade the popular mountain bike area, the Deschutes National Forest and Central Oregon Trial Alliance said Thursday.

The closure goes into effect Monday, April 10, and is expected to last for a couple of weeks. The length of the closure will be dependent on weather conditions, snow melt and pace of work.

The closure will be in place for public safety as maintenance work will include the use of heavy machinery, officials said.

"The Phil’s skills area receives high-volume use, causing features to degrade over time," the Forest Service announcement said. "The maintenance work will include reconfiguring elements to increase sustainability and provide enhanced opportunities for riders of all ages and abilities."

The Central Oregon Trails Alliance (COTA) will manage the project through a volunteer service agreement with the Forest Service.

Phil’s trailhead parking and the trails that leave from the trailhead will be open; however, due to weather, many trails may be impassable or too muddy to ride, COTA said in its own announcement.  

"The skills area has degraded over time because maintenance needs have outpaced the ability of volunteers to do the work," the group said. "This maintenance effort will reconfigure the skills area to have greater sustainability and provide enhanced opportunities for riders of all ages and abilities."

Specifically, they said, Phase 1 includes removing the existing pump track near the parking lot and the rollers adjacent to the pump track, to provide dirt to reshape the main jump lines and relocating the pump track adjacent to the main jump lines. It is important to use dirt found onsite instead of importing dirt, so as not to introduce weeds to the area.

Eventually, Phase 2 will include enhancing skill progression opportunities in the area where the pump track and rollers are now. The envisioned skills options will include rollers, rock features, drops, and more.

"The area will be an excellent place for coaches to take groups and for families and groups of friends wishing to session features and build confidence and riding skills," COTA said.

The slalom course approximately 0.2 miles from the parking area will remain as is and is not part of either phase of the project.

The budget for the project comes from donations to COTA. Currently, only Phase 1 is funded. COTA is seeking donations to fund Phase 2 and anticipates implementing Phase 2 in the spring of 2024, or as soon as funds can be raised. 

“COTA has been hearing from riders that Bend needs better places to practice skills like drops, jumps, and riding over rocks,” said Emmy Andrews, COTA’s executive director. “The Phil’s skills area is the perfect place to offer those opportunities. COTA has been working hard to raise funds for the work, and we are confident the public is going to love the result.”

COTA is managing the work under their Volunteer Service Agreement with the U.S. Forest Service. COTA has hired Black Sage Dirt Works, a local professional trail building company owned by Kyle Jameson.

Kyle, also known as KJ, is nationally known for his creative vision and quality trails. He built the Royal Flush trail in 2021. By using a mini-excavator, Kyle can do the work much more efficiently and effectively than would be possible if it was done by volunteers using hand tools. 

“Black Sage Dirt Works built Royal Flush, and it has become an instant classic,” said Alex Brieger, COTA’s Trails Program Manager. “We at COTA are stoked to work with KJ again. The Phil’s skills area is going to be a great place for riders of all ages and abilities to hang out and build skills.”  

Phil’s trailhead hosts approximately 500,000 visits per year by mountain bikers, walkers, and trail runners. It is consistently ranked one of the top mountain biking destinations in Oregon.

For more information about trail closures and operations, contact the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District at 541-383-5300.

Article Topic Follows: Outdoors

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