Hiking and biking along the Deschutes River Trail through downtown Bend is about to get a lot better.
After nearly a decade of planning, trail construction and bank improvements are underway in Drake Park, Bend’s most popular riverfront park.
A plan to extend the Deschutes River Trail through Drake Park, under the Newport Avenue Bridge all the way north to Awbrey Butte, all the way south to the southern footbridge is finally happening.
“The main thing is it’s a major gap in the Deschutes River Trail that we are fixing,” said Brian Hudspeth, Bend Park and Recreation Development Manager. “Currently, the Deschutes River Trail goes up into Brooks Alley, takes you to Newport Avenue and the stoplight, across the road, back down and then down through. So this bypasses all that, takes the trail off the streets and sidewalks and keeps it next to the river which is what we envisioned for the Deschutes River Trail.”
Several parts of the trail along the river through Drake Park are closed and detours are in place, as contractors stabilize the banks and replace and expand a series of boardwalks.
“I really like what they are doing with the walkway on the north end to go underneath the bridge,” said Brian Sudol of La Pine, who was walking black Labrador in Drake Park. “I used to go up there when there was no concrete trail and try to make my way through the river to connect to the trail. It’s nice to see they are going to be finishing it up for the entirety of the park.”
Construction is estimated at $8 million with funds coming from taxes paid to the park and recreation district, system development charges and grants.
Completion is scheduled by the end of June.
“I’m pleased to see the trail going through,” said Sid Snyder, Bend. “I’m a little disappointed to see the loss of some of the big trees on the other end of the park. Having end to end trail for bikes and pedestrians is something the city really needs and I’m glad to see that. I’m also glad to see the bank improvements. Those have been sorely needed for quite some time.”
The bank and trail improvements extend throughout Drake Park from Newport Avenue to the Galveston takeout where hundreds, sometimes thousands of people a day, end their floats on the Deschutes River.
The beach near the Galveston bridge will be improved, made ADA accessible and a plaza with seating be installed for people who are waiting to be picked up at the end of their river float trips.