On busy days, the parking areas at Shevlin Park fill before most of us have our first cup of coffee. Moreover, Deschutes County recently closed a popular-but-unofficial roadside parking area along Skyliners Road located near the Shevlin Park Tree Farm Trailhead. These changes have caused many to ask what Bend Park & Recreation District is doing to protect access and increase connections to Shevlin Park. As a trail planner, I spend a lot of time working on these issues.
Development of the Westside Transect Zone, an urban to rural “transition” area between Bend’s west side and Shevlin Park, has been picking up speed. As this area is developed, the park district has been working diligently to create new trail connections to Shevlin Park. Our goal is to enhance nonmotorized access to the park and reduce demand for parking as our community continues to grow. “Ride to ride” is a term often used to describe leaving the car at home and riding to your favorite trailhead instead.
The core of this effort is a new loop trail created by two planned trails — the Outback Trail and the Manzanita Trail. The Manzanita-Outback Trail Loop will connect the south end of Shevlin Park to the north end, passing through Discovery Park and multiple neighborhoods.
Because opportunities for adding off-street parking in this area are very limited, our best bet is to create new trail connections and allow trail users to leave the car at home or to utilize on-street parking outside the park.
Earlier this summer, the park district opened the Outback Trail, which passes through 30 acres of undeveloped land southwest of Discovery Park that will soon be transferred to the district and preserved as open space. The Outback Trail enables trail users to use existing on-street parking at Discovery Park and access the more than 22 miles of trails within Shevlin Park while avoiding the stress of riding or walking on Skyliners Road. The open space area surrounding the Outback Trail is owned by NWX2 LLC, a private company that is developing Discovery West, a large residential and commercial development.
The Outback Trail can be accessed directly from Discovery Park, and features the “Women of Discovery” mural in the undercrossing beneath the Skyline Ranch Road bridge. “Women of Discovery” was painted by local artist Douglas Robertson and was commissioned by NWX2 LLC in coordination with BPRD. It is a very cool place to snap a photo on any ride to share with friends.
The trail currently has a gravel surface and will be relocated and replaced by a permanent asphalt trail as future phases of Discovery West are developed over the next several years. Trail users are asked to stay on the trail, keep dogs on a leash and be on the lookout for construction vehicles and equipment in the active construction zone.
The Manzanita Trail portion of the loop is 75% complete. This summer, the park district completed construction of two new trail segments. The first connects the Westgate Neighborhood to Shevlin Park, offering stunning views of the park and the Cascades. This trail was built by staff after the district obtained an easement from Rio Lobo Investments LLC. The second section extends the Manzanita Trail west from Discovery Park through a parcel of land recently obtained by the district from NWX2 LLC.
Bend Park & Recreation District is working to obtain the final agreements needed to complete the Manzanita Trail and is looking forward to opening the entire Manzanita-Outback loop in the coming years, enabling more people to leave the car at home and ride to ride as much as possible.