The U.S. 97: Lava Butte to La Pine Multi-Use Path Planning Study will identify a continuous multi-use path connection between Lava Butte and La Pine, promoting active transportation and connectivity among these gateway communities and the forest. The proposed path would provide safe, convenient and direct off-highway travel for all ages and abilities, providing access to the Deschutes National Forest, BLM Prineville District and other high use federal recreation sites such as the Lava Lands Visitor Center and Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Based on usage of similar nearby facilities, ODOT and the Forest Service estimate that the path would be used by more than 80,000 pedestrians and bicyclists each year.
In the fall of 2023, ODOT and the project team completed the analysis of potential trail alignment alternatives and have identified a recommended corridor the future Lava Butte to La Pine Multi-Use Path. The recommended corridor is envisioned to provide a safe connection from the Lava Lands Visitor Center to Wickiup Junction in La Pine. The project team reviewed potential property impacts, planning-level cost estimates, technical and environmental considerations, and ease of implementation to identify the recommended corridor. The identified corridor would largely follow existing forest road and utility corridors, with some short connective segments along improved Deschutes County shoulders, per planned improvements in the ongoing Deschutes County Transportation System Plan (TSP). ODOT and the project team are now working on the draft and final Lava Butte to La Pine Multi-Use Path Plan and will publish it in early 2024.
The project aims to :
- Develop a plan for a low-stress connection between Lava Butte, Sunriver, and La Pine, promoting walking and biking connectivity among communities, area destinations, and the forest.
- Provide safe, convenient, and direct travel for people of all ages and abilities, providing access to recreation areas such as the Lava Lands Visitor Center, Newberry National Volcanic Monument, and Deschutes National Forest.
- Establish an attractive active transportation route for residents and visitors to use for commuting and traveling to destinations.
In concert with the Bend to Lava Butte Multi-Use Path, the Plan will provide a seamless active transportation connection between La Pine and Bend.
U.S. 97 from Lava Lands Visitor's Center to La Pine.
Cost and Funding
Estimated construction cost: $5,600,000.
What Problem Will This Improve?
In recent years, local stakeholders have invested heavily in planning, designing, and building multi-use paths to connect the communities surrounding Bend. The Lava Lands Regional Trail System Concept is one such effort that would connect Bend and Sunriver with a regional path network. This work includes the U.S. 97: Multi-Use Trail Planning Study funded by FLAP (2016) that examines multi-use path alignments along the U.S. 97 corridor. While these efforts have made great strides in connecting Bend to federal lands, the City of La Pine and south Deschutes County continue to have disproportionate recreational access to the federal lands that surround them. The U.S. 97: Lava Butte to La Pine Multi-Use Path Planning Study would provide opportunities for connecting these communities to related recreation on the Deschutes National Forest and BLM Prineville District.
Additionally, without a safe and separated non-motorized transportation facility, a growing number of residents and visitors will simply choose to drive to destinations along U.S. 97. This will exacerbate already limited parking resources, which are severely constrained during the peak season. Parking and congestion are so bad during the peak season that visitors are not allowed to use personal vehicles to access Lava Butte, and must use active modes or ride a shuttle between the Visitor Center and Lava Butte.
The proposed U.S. 97: Lava Butte to La Pine Multi-Use Path will help to address these problems by providing non-motorized access to destinations along U.S. 97 from Lava Butte to La Pine, lessening impacts on the surrounding resources, and improving safety by providing a dedicated path for non-motorized transportation.
The proposed planning study is supported by the Deschutes National Forest Alternative Transportation Feasibility Study priority project E2-1 that supports developing a paved multi-use trail connecting Sunriver and La Pine to major destinations along the U.S. 97 corridor. This study would also compliment the U.S. 97: Multi-Use Trail Planning Study (Baker/Knott Road - Lava Lands Visitor Center) funded by FLAP (2016) that is evaluating connectivity from Bend to Lava Butte, extending the planning corridor south to La Pine.