Early into our ride Sunday on Peterson Ridge Trail in Sisters, my friend Jeremy Dickman listed so many of Sisters' compelling attributes — the large homes near the trailhead, the restaurants, the movie theater, the trail itself, just a bunny hop, skip and a jump from downtown — that, he said, he felt like he worked for the chamber of commerce or the tourism board.
Dickman was about 15 feet ahead of me and zipping along Peterson Ridge's exemplary singletrack, so it was difficult to hear his exact words. But I got the gist.
I was sold like that on Sisters a year ago, when my wife and I spent our 15th anniversary at FivePine Lodge & Conference Center's, uh, “Romance Cabin."
After dinner at Jen's Garden, a fire-side soak, etc., we awoke, caffeine-loaded at breakfast and, before checkout, went for a run. Conveniently, there's a trail that runs directly from the lodge to Peterson Ridge Trail, actually a well-maintained network of trails that could be — and probably has been — described as Sisters' answer to Bend's Phil's Trail.
I pledged I'd be back, but you know how life goes. There's so much to do.
It's what I'm calling the Netflix Instant Queue problem. I used to think I had a lot of unwatched movies, shows and documentaries in my queue when it contained 60 items. Then it got to be 90.
Now it's at 120. I add things faster than I can watch and delete them. There's no way to pick something to watch; those history docs, Showtime shows and indie movies never look quite as inviting as they had when I'd added them.
Don't have Netflix? If you have cable TV or have dined at a restaurant with a novella-length menu, you know how indecision can set in when you're presented with too many choices.
So it goes with rides, runs or hikes. Despite curiosity, good intentions and an itch to get outdoors, you have to narrow it down. What's it going to be? Misery Ridge? Badlands? Newberry Crater? Fall River or Deschutes?
Fortunately, when you make the choice to get outdoors, pretty much any choice is a good one — unlike picking a movie only to find out it's rotten.
So, after pondering a trip to the Smith Rock and Gray Butte area, we settled on Peterson Ridge on Sunday.
In Sisters, we turned off U.S. Highway 20 and headed south on Elm Street, proceeding a few blocks to the small trailhead on the southeast corner East Tyee Drive and Elm. Parking here is limited to eight cars, however, so the best bet for parking is Village Green Park a couple of blocks to the north.
Finally, I was back at Peterson Ridge Trail, almost a year to the week after first running there. I made a mental note to clean the bathrooms later that day, because my wife was home facing a mountain of laundry while I was playing on my mountain bike.
As we set out on a ride, a gentleman (who later passed us) called out, “Have a good ride."
In fact, all the folks we encountered on the trail were this friendly, be they other bikers or walkers. Definitely keep an eye peeled for pedestrians, as many are walking with off-leash dogs. Despite trail courtesy conventions, every walker we passed smiled, said hello and politely stepped off the trail to let us pass. I felt like royalty.
Peterson Ridge Trail is divided into east and west options, with a middle one farther south. We started out on the east one, stopping occasionally to study the map we'd grabbed at the trailhead and/or one of the many trail markers.
One cannot overemphasize how well-maintained the trail is. We encountered no blowdown, and just the right amount of technical sections. And for riders who want a challenge, there are spots like Eagle Rock Pass and Hawk's Flight clearly marked “difficult."
Being the weekend warriors we are, we were getting pretty worn out from the uphill endeavor. By the time we reached marker 20, we were thinking about lunch. We connected via Double Ditch Connector to PRT West, where we saw a sign indicating Peterson Ridge overlook three-fourths of a mile away.
“Want to go for it?" Dickman asked.
Who was I to say no? The ascent here steepened sharply, but eventually it went back to a reasonable pitch. We had enough before we reached the overlook proper, settling instead for a sweet view of Black Butte, then turned around and enjoyed the downhill ride.
In all, we rode nearly 11 miles over an hour and a half, with stops for photos, water and greeting hikers' dogs, then chowed down at Three Creeks Brewery.
Later, I contacted Bruce Simon of the Sisters Trail Alliance, which, along with the Sisters community, is to be thanked for this fine network of trails. Via email, Simon told The Bulletin, PRT is “a little secret around Central Oregon and is rapidly becoming one of the great local mountain bike trails."
“If one can put up with the weather, the Ridge offers great riding this time of year," he said. However, he asked that riders exercise caution and reason if — or rather, when — trails become too wet.
“As we head into the winter months, the freeze/thaw cycles we experience can produce muddy conditions as well as ice. Also when cyclists do ride through muddy conditions, it causes permanent damage to the trails this time of year," he said.
With this week's precipitation, Simon added, riders may encounter light snow at the trail's upper elevations, which tops out around 3,800 feet, according to the map I use.
Simon recommended I make a return trip to explore the miles of trail Dickman and I hadn't reached, including a recently finished section extending the West leg farther south. It's so new it has yet to be named.
“There is much more for you to enjoy as you explore," he said.
And I pledge that I will — one of these days, after I update my Instant Queue, check out Gray Butte and get sidetracked by life's gazillions of other options.