Volunteers are building a new bike path to the Ochoco viewpoint

by: KEVIN SPERL  - William Henderson, (right), Stephen Henderson, Seth Crawford, and Paul Cuddy, COTA volunteer trail builders, work to clear part of the new multi-use trail along the Lower 66 acreage of the Ochoco State Scenic View Point State Park.

Seth Crawford pulls a large rock out of the ground alongside a fledgling trail on what is known as the “Lower 66” acreage of Ochoco State Scenic View Point State Park.

“Now you see what we are up against,” commented Stephen Henderson, trail leader for the Crook County Chapter of the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA). “You go down a few inches and this (rocks) is what you will find.”

The pair are two of the many trail construction volunteers currently constructing a three-mile recreational trail on the state property located south of Highway 126 and east of the Meadow Lakes Golf Course.

According to Darlene Henderson, Crook County Chapter Representative of COTA, the local chapter formed in January 2013 and quickly identified five high priority options for new trail construction

“The 'Lower 66' network reached the top of the list when Steve Memminger, park manager for the Prineville Reservoir Management Unit, gave the OK to move forward on the design and construction of a multi-use trail,” she said. “This trail is one of a number of projects being developed in Crook County to increase options for bikers, hikers, runners and walkers in the area surrounding Prineville.”

The trail is being constructed completely by hand using specialized trail-building tools and features two rock bridges, banked turns, and enough elevation gain to provide unobstructed views of Prineville and Lookout Mountain.

In addition to the “Lower 66” trail, other COTA Crook County Chapter projects include an agreement with the Ochoco National Forest to provide ongoing maintenance on approximately 30 miles of existing trail. There is also a proposal in the works to create a 75-mile network of non-motorized multi-use trails providing hiking, running, mountain biking and equestrian use in the Lookout Mountain Recreation Area.

A bike park proposal to the City Council would enable COTA to raise funds to design and construct a community bike park on a parcel of city owned property adjacent to Ochoco Creek Park.

In addition to the efforts of the local COTA chapter, the Ford Institute Leadership Program will be participating in the placement of artistic bike racks in Prineville, Powell Butte and Paulina.

“Oregon is becoming more well-known as a cycling destination,” said Chad Carpenter, co-founder of The Landing Youth and Tutoring Center and member of the leadership program. “Placing bicycle racks throughout the county will encourage tourism and give the area an economic boost.”

Back on the trail, Paul Cuddy was working alongside Crawford and Henderson and remarked how there seemed to be a growing synergy in the community that is pushing these projects forward.

“We have accumulated over 700 hours of volunteer hours on this trail alone,” he said. “But, we can always use more bodies out here. Sometimes, this three-mile trail has seemed more like 50 with all the work to be done.”

Stephen Henderson explained that work began on the trail in March and continued with three additional organized work days, although a group of volunteers can often be found out on the trail at anytime.

“We have one more organized event on Saturday, June 7, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.,” he said. “We will stop work through the heat of the summer and pick up again in the fall. We hope to have the trail open for use sometime next year.”

Henderson suggests that interested volunteers meet at Rimrock Park on the west side of Main Street just south of Lynn Boulevard for a shuttle to the work site.

Darlene Henderson noted that the development of trail systems was identified as a high priority for the community in the Crook County Parks and Recreation District Comprehensive Plan.

“According to a study done on the facilitators and barriers to recreation in Crook County, several respondents felt that there should be more trails in the county,” she said. “According to the local health department, adults in Crook County have higher rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and obesity, and they spend less time being physically active compared to residents of other counties in Oregon.”

As a result, the local trail advocacy group envisions the “Lower 66” trail as a beginner accessible recreational opportunity that will encourage physical activity amongst all Crook County residents.

For more information about the Crook County Chapter of the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA) or the Crook County Chapter, visit

Follow the group on their Facebook page at or on Twitter at @BikePrineville.

To take part in the next organized trail work day at the “Lower 66” trail, contact Darlene Henderson, Crook County Chapter Representative, email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or meet at Rimrock Park on the west side of Main Street just south of Lynn Blvd. on Saturday, June 7, at 9 a.m. for a shuttle to the work site.

The Ochoco National Forest continues to solicit comments on or before May 28, 2014 regarding the Lookout Mt. Trails Project. Comments may be mailed to Ochoco National Forest, 3160 NE Third Street, Prineville, OR, 97754; faxed to 541-416-6695 or emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more information about the Ford Leadership Bike Rack project visit:

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