Peterson Ridge Trail advocate John Rahm described how the trail was created in its current configuration.
 photo by Sue Stafford
Peterson Ridge Trail advocate John Rahm described how the trail was created in its current configuration. photo by Sue Stafford
The sun shone warmly on the 100-plus people gathered at Village Green Park last Saturday to celebrate the community asset known as the Peterson Ridge Trail (PRT).

The PRT is actually an entire trail system of over 100 miles of trails, with loops and connectors, serving hikers, cyclists, and equestrians.

The day’s activities, underwritten by Your Store on Cascade Avenue and hosted by Sisters Trails Alliance (STA), included guided rides and hikes on the PRT in the morning, a free lunch catered by Tacos el Comal, a special Pete’s Ridge pale ale brewed and donated by Three Creeks Brewing available for purchase, games of Cornhole, and a children’s scavenger hunt around the park. A celebratory cake sported a colorful reproduction of Clay Warburton’s art that was on the poster for the event.

Displays were set up by active partners of STA including Central Oregon Trails Association (COTA), Oregon Equestrian Trails (OET), and Sisters Park and Recreation District. Three amazing gift baskets, each filled with donations from numerous local businesses and worth well over $1,000, were raffled off to lucky winners who paid $10 for three chances on a hiker, cyclist, or equestrian basket.

During the event, early trail proponent John Rahm of Sisters told the assembled crowd, “What we have is a mature destination trail system… People come to Sisters because of our trails. One person moved here because of the trails.”

Rahm gave those assembled a detailed history of the origins and development of the trail, crediting Eurosports owner Brad Boyd with getting the first “lollipop” section of the trail constructed in two years, beginning in 1989.

Volunteers, partnerships, donations and grants have literally built the PRT. Thank-yous were plentiful and heartfelt on Saturday. Thousands of volunteer hours have contributed to the construction and maintenance of the trail system. Currently, each section of trail has an STA volunteer who surveys their section regularly and sees to the maintenance.

STA President Catherine Hayden shared, “I am thankful for our collaboration with the Forest Service. I value the strong relationship with them.”

Thanks were also extended for significant financial support from former Sisters resident Mike Ilg, The Roundhouse Foundation and Kathy Deggendorfer, and cycling advocate Jerry Norquist and Cycle Oregon.

Amy Radke, Recreation Team leader with the Sisters Ranger District, echoed Hayden’s sentiment from the Forest Service perspective, thankful for the partnership. She has been able to build on the relationships formed through the partnership with STA.

“What we have is an incredible trail system with important cultural sites,” Radke said.

She talked about how the PRT increases the USFS capacity for recreational opportunities. She cited the stability of the STA with its membership, finances, and ability to get grants all adding value to the Deschutes National Forest.

Former Sisters District Ranger Bill Anthony, an avid cyclist, and Rahm, were instrumental in the formation of the partnership between the USFS and STA.

Among those in the park on Saturday were longtime STA members and a number of relative newcomers to Sisters who either had already joined the STA or came to check it out and planned to join. One couple visiting from Eugene stopped by with their young son.

Mountain-biker David Purviance, who brought his World’s Children nonprofit to Sisters, said, “I appreciate what they (STA) have done.” He and his wife, Jean, plan to join STA.

Mary and Michael Fry, who are building a home in Aspen Lakes, have been coming to Sisters to vacation for 20 years and moved here permanently a year-and-a-half ago. They enjoy the trails on their mountain bikes and came Saturday to “learn about the outfit.”

The trailhead for the PRT, currently located on the south side of Sisters off Elm Street and Tyee Drive, will have a new location in spring 2020, a little further south on Elm (Three Creek Road), to remove it from the Buck Run neighborhood. The new trailhead will offer more parking and restroom facilities, but is still close to town.

Other future plans include improved equestrian trails and two new trails to provide more connections on the Whychus Creek and Brooks-Scanlon trails. A new regional organization is forming, the Deschutes Trails Coalition.

Karen Matheson Thrower has been using the trails since the late 1990s, when she came to visit her parents who lived in Sisters. Her dad built the play structure in Village Green Park. She moved from Portland three years ago and joined the STA. She is on the trails regularly with her dogs or bike. She thinks “the trail system is an incredible resource.”