News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Volunteers tackle trail work in Sisters Country

This past weekend saw 20 volunteers from the Sisters Trails Alliance (STA) and OTTA (Oregon Timber Trail Association) conduct their first joint trail-improvement work party. Judging by the smiles and laughter exhibited by the group, it was party-like as they toiled in three sections. The weather added to the joy being expressed by the workers who ranged in age from 13 to 66. The work group came from as close as Sisters and as far as Bellingham, Washington.

Sisters Trails Alliance (STA) is well-known to Nugget readers. In a public-private partnership with the Deschutes National Forest, the group manages and maintains a 192-mile trail system considered vital to Sisters tourism and the physical and mental well-being of area hikers, bikers, and equestrians. Nearly 80 volunteers band with 185 members to provide leadership and stewardship of the active, non-profit, community-based organization.

Oregon Timber Trail Alliance (OTTA), on the other hand, is lesser known. They are relatively young, conceived in 2015. Their mission in part is to “link Oregon’s communities and backcountry landscapes through profound mountain-biking experiences.”

The Oregon Timber Trail itself consists of nearly 700 miles of backcountry from California to the Columbia River Gorge. It is genuinely a world-class bike-packing destination and considered North America’s premiere long-distance mountain bike route.

The Oregon Timber Trail is accessible to a wide variety of cyclists inspired by the Pacific Crest Trail and others within the National Scenic Trail system. It’s designed with mountain-biking in mind and consists of more than 60 percent single track.

Of its four tiers, the Deschutes Tier extends 129.3 miles and reaches a height of 9,491 ft. Total elevation gain is 8,000 feet-plus. Riders typically need three to six days to complete it. None of it is paved and 67 percent is single track through arguably the most dramatic portion of the long ride. This leg starts at Waldo Lake for northbound riders and includes crossing under the shadow of Broken Top and over the Tam McArthur Rim.

The Deschutes Tier includes the historic Santiam Wagon Road as it skirts Black Butte and Camp Sherman. It passes Suttle Lake and heads to Big Lake before descending to Fish Lake and the headwaters of the McKenzie.

On Friday the group worked the north end of Green Ridge Trail doing logout, light brushing, and some tread work. Saturday found them south of Green Ridge Lookout with a main focus on brushing and some tread work. Sunday took them to trail 4031 (Dark Lake) and trail 4032 by Scout Lake for brushing, logout, and tread work.

Basecamp was Indian Ford Campground, where workers set up Thursday night. Shifts were eight hours except Sunday when everybody called it a day around noon for a half-day group ride.

When asked their motivation for taking time from riding to trail maintenance, Cedar Watson of Eagle Creek, Oregon, summed up the group’s


“I use the trails and they give me great pleasure. I need to give back to the trails,” Watson said. “It’s also a place to meet like-minded people with whom I can hopefully make lasting friendships and do some good.”

Other comments included: “We use ’em, we fix ’em.” Another said: “These trails were here before me. I want to make sure they are here after me.”

Laird Superfood, Trail Boss, and Old Man Mountain were among the sponsors present for the event.


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