ODOT, in partnership with the Deschutes National Forest, is completing the planning and preliminary design for a paved multi-use path along the U.S. 97 corridor that connects the City of Bend with the Lava Lands Visitor Center. This path and several proposed alignments were included in the 2017 U.S. 97 Bend to Lava Butte Refinement Plan. The proposed path will be ADA-compliant and extend from Baker/Knott Road on the south end of Bend to Lava Butte Visitor Center.
ODOT is currently partnering with the Deschutes National Forest on the environmental assessment associated with the path and considering design alternatives. ODOT is working with property owners, stakeholder groups and the general public to collaborate on the planning, design and construction.
Project goals include:
- Provide enhanced recreation opportunities that support alternative modes of transportation.
- Enable non-motorized travelers to safely access amenities associated with the Deschutes National Forest from the City of Bend and Sunriver.
- Increase the economic viability of the Sunriver and Bend communities by expanding the quality and variety of active, outdoor recreation amenities available in the region.
Baker/Knott Road intersection south of Bend to Lava Butte
Cost and Funding
This project was awarded planning, design and construction funds from the Federal Lands Access Program totaling $5.8 million.
This project will promote active transportation options with improved safety and access to trail networks close to communities, which is a goal of City of Bend, Sunriver, and Deschutes County. The path will provide connections between high use visitor attractions and recreation sites including the High Desert Museum, Lava Butte, Lava Lands Visitor Center, and Deschutes River. The path will also connect to the Sun Lava Path, completed in 2014, that connects Sunriver to Lava Lands Visitor Center.
Additional benefits include:
- Removing vehicles from the roads
- Alleviating parking congestion
- Providing a trail experience for users of all abilities
What Problem Will This Improve?
The City of Bend and community of Sunriver are growing rapidly, increasing travel demands and environmental impacts on the Deschutes National Forest, Newberry National Volcanic Monument and surrounding area. Currently, there is no safe, accessible way for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel between Bend and Lava Butte. In addition, the Sunriver community lacks pedestrian and bicycle connections to Bend and U.S. 97 corridors. This trail system will create new connections for bicyclists and pedestrians between these destinations.
The U.S. 97 corridor between Knott Road and the Lava Lands Visitor Center was specifically identified in the Deschutes National Forest Alternative Transportation Feasibility Study that was completed in 2015 for its potential to provide transportation options between high-use visitor destinations such as High Desert Museum, Lava Lands Visitor Center, and Lava Butte. That study was conducted with input from multiple stakeholders, including local governments, school districts, recreation groups, visitor associations, and non-profits.
The corridor was further assessed in the U.S. 97 Bend to Lava Butte Refinement Plan completed in 2017. One goal of that plan was to find out whether there is a desire and need for a multi-use path parallel to U.S. 97 and how it would connect to the larger active transportation network and trail system. The plan found that a significant gap in the regional trail network exists in this area.
ODOT and the U. S. Forest Service completed an alternatives analysis for the U.S. 97 multi-use trail alignment in winter 2020. This process considered three alignments of the trail both on the west and east side of U.S. 97 to the north of the Deschutes National Forest and two alignments at Lava Butte near the Lava Lands Visitor Center. Criteria including disturbed area, private property impacts, user experience, accessibility, trailhead access and network connectivity. These criteria were used to evaluate each of the potential trail alignments. Based on these design characteristics, an east alternative between Knott Road and the Forest Service boundary scored the highest.
The East Alternative begins at Knott Road and runs on the east side of U.S. 97 within ODOT right of way to the High Desert Museum. The trail would then cross under U.S. 97 utilizing a pedestrian undercrossing and continue on a west side alignment to the Lava Lands Visitor Center. At Lava Butte, the trail alignment will go through the lava flow, creating unique experience for trail users within the National Monument.