BEND, Ore. — As if Central Oregon needed another reason for mountain bikers to flock to its hundreds of miles of single-track, now one of its paths has been officially designated an Oregon Scenic Trail.
The 8 miles of single-track that includes the Dinah-Moe-Humm and Kiwa Butte trails southwest of Bend in the Wanoga network was approved this month as a state scenic trail by the Oregon Recreation Trails Advisory Council and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission.
Kent Howes, a former board member with the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA), wrote the designation proposal for the section of trail, which was completed in 2011 and includes numerous views of snow-covered Cascade peaks.
“It’s a pretty unique award from the state,” Howes says.
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According to the OPRC, designated scenic trails must be single routes of at least 1 mile in length that provide access to outstanding scenic areas or viewpoints. The trails must be open to the public and be substantially complete.
The Kiwa Butte Trail features incredible views of Broken Top, Tam McArthur Rim and the Three Sisters. A section of the Dinah-Moe-Humm trail offers sprawling views of Mount Bachelor, Kwohl Butte, Tumalo Mountain, Diamond Peak and Maiden Peak.
“On a clear day, it’s amazing how far you can see,” Howes says.
The Dinah-Moe-Humm and Kiwa Butte section is the only Oregon Scenic Trail purpose-built for mountain bikers, according to Howes. Oregon has eight other state scenic trails, six of which are located on or near the Oregon Coast. Another is located in Central Oregon: the Willow Creek Trail near Madras.
The Oregon Equestrian Trails club has proposed the Metolius-Windigo Trail — which cuts through the Central Oregon high country east of the Pacific Crest Trail — as an Oregon Scenic Trail.
Built from 2007 to 2011 by COTA volunteers, the Kiwa Butte and Dinah-Moe Humm trails are fruits of the ambitious efforts by the trail alliance and the U.S. Forest Service to design and construct the Wanoga network, which includes more than 30 miles of single-track south of Century Drive.
I have ridden the Kiwa Butte and Dinah-Moe Humm trails several times, but until recently I had never experienced the west end of Dinah-Moe-Humm — named for a Frank Zappa song — which starts at Edison Sno-Park a few miles southeast of Mount Bachelor.
After about a 20-minute drive to Edison this month, I hopped on my bike and started out over a couple of technical, rocky portions, and then a bit of a climb. The trail transformed from a sandy track to a pine-needle-covered path through a dense lodgepole pine forest.
As I ascended Bowl Butte, the trees gave way to open space, and I twisted around a few turns until I reached the summit. From there, I took in views of Mount Bachelor, Kwohl Butte and, farther in the distance to the southwest, Diamond Peak. I then descended Bowl Butte along several fast and fun banked corners.
As I turned through more thick forest and green grass, I launched off several small jumps, built naturally into the flow of the trail. I eventually arrived at a primary junction, where Dinah-Moe-Humm, Kiwa Butte and Tyler’s Traverse trails all intersect.
I descended for a while down Tyler’s, which included more banked turns, jumps and rock features, and views of Paulina Peak.
After about 2 miles on Tyler’s, I turned around and was pleased to find that much of the way back toward Edison was downhill. I had not realized how much I had climbed on the way out.
Trails in the Wanoga complex seem to offer more open spaces than the Phil’s Trail network north of Century Drive, and the forest has a different feel — more lodgepole pine and dead trees.
On the fast, winding descent, I encountered only a few other bikers, one of whom mentioned he was training for the Pickett’s Charge! mountain bike race. A new course for the 2014 race includes the Kiwa Butte, Dinah-Moe-Humm and Tyler’s Traverse trails.
Featuring several “Y” sections where the single-track breaks into two separate paths to offer passing routes, the new trails are not only scenic, but also race-friendly.