New trails await on the Upper 66
Work on the Upper 66 trail system is just now buttoning up, according to Amber Toomey, Crook County Chapter Representative for Central Oregon Trail Alliance.
She and her husband installed a kiosk along the trail system about a week ago, following trail work that concluded about a month ago.
The trail system connects to the Lower 66, a trail system that climbs toward the rimrock near Meadow Lakes Golf Course. The Upper 66 continues up the hill, onto and beyond the rimrock, going toward the Apple data center. Both trail systems combine to cover about 300 acres of property owned by Department of State Lands and by Crook County, and provide about 10 miles of trails overall.
Toomey credited Crook County Judge Seth Crawford with helping move the project forward, noting that he was very supportive and helpful getting permission from the county to build the trail system.
Financially, the project was made possible in large part by a $45,000 Facebook Community Action Grant that COTA was awarded last year.
"Without the Facebook grant, we wouldn't have been able to put in the trails that are more universal and serve the majority of the community," Toomey said.
The Upper 66 is comprised of a couple different trails.
"The whole ridge line, we have a single track that follows the ridge line out," Toomey said, explaining that it is a delicate track that lacks any obvious marks on the landscape. That trail is about 1.8 miles long.
"Set further in, is the double-wide walking trail," Toomey continued. "It was built with less than a 5 to 7 percent grade. It is really meant more for walking or for getting up the grade if you don't want to go up the steeper part of the trail."
COTA brought in a construction crew to complete the 1.8-mile trail. The trail was flattened out, gravel was added to it and then that gravel was compacted.
In addition, COTA asked professional trail builder Paul Thomasberg to clear an area for a double-wide trail that follows an access road up the hill near the trail system. The trail is less steep in certain places than the road, Toomey said, so people, particularly walkers, have a better option for getting up the grade to the upper portion of the trail system. Thomasberg also helped with the single-track trail.
Toomey added that COTA and other volunteers conducted substantial trash cleanups on the property and might consider another one in the near future. Also, the group plans to add more kiosks as well as three or four resting benches along the trails.
Toomey is glad to see the Upper 66 trail system completed and expects it to benefit many people. She has already seen a lot of walkers and joggers in the area as well as the occasional mountain biker.
"Trails that are accessible in town are great for use during your work week and promote physical activity," she said. "It has been so beneficial for so many people in the community."