Residents have a new trail link. photo provided
Residents have a new trail link. photo provided
Thanks to the hard work of many volunteers, folks living west of Sisters can now access the Peterson Ridge Trail (PRT) system via the new PRT-Whychus Footbridge Tie Trail.

Almost two miles of new trail connects the Elk Ranch Loop (from Edgington Road across from the Middle School) via the footbridge on the Brooks Scanlon Logging Road to the existing trail system.

The new trail eliminates the need for residents of Tollgate, Crossroads and other areas to the west to ride or walk on city streets in order to access the Peterson Ridge trails. This connector also allows mountain bike riders on the PRT to access the Metolius Windigo Connector to dramatically expand options to the south and west of town for cyclists. The new PRT-Whychus Footbridge Tie Trail is for hiking and mountain biking only. No motorized vehicles, e-bikes or equestrian use are allowed.

Project “scoping” and approving new trail can be a lengthy process; this new section of trail was initially proposed almost six years ago and has been actively in the works for at least three years. Sisters Trails Alliance (STA) volunteers Gary Guttormsen and Patrick Eckford were instrumental “boots on the ground” in getting the trail approved and built. They worked closely with Forest Service personnel to gain approval for the new trail and through that process ended up creating a bifurcated trail with north and south legs to avoid a wildlife habitat zone.

The Forest Service engaged a Youth Conservation Corps crew to build about half of the trail while STA worked on approval to resume volunteer work during COVID. Once safety protocols were in place, STA volunteers enthusiastically took to the work, finishing the trail and fine-tuning and signing the entire new section.

The new trail exemplifies STA’s mission, “to connect people and communities to each other and their natural surroundings.”

STA is a nonprofit organization whose volunteers maintain close to 200 miles of trails, including the Peterson Ridge Trail System. A free map of the local trails, produced by STA and supported by our local businesses, is available at the Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce, Sisters City Hall, and many businesses in Sisters. The new PRT trailhead and the PRT-Whychus Footbridge Tie Trail are included in the 2020-2021 map. Trail users and trail lovers can support the work of STA by volunteering, becoming a member, or donating at www.sisterstrails.org.