Big Sky Park on Bend's east side already has a lot to offer. There are sports fields for football, soccer and baseball, a BMX track, a playground and an off-leash dog park. Now, an expansion will improve the park's infrastructure and add amenities for cyclists.
A lot of the biking opportunities are on the west side of town, but the proposed bike tracks and trails at Big Sky would be unlike any other single park in Central Oregon.
"Currently we have some bike trails and amenities in parks around town, including the east side, but nothing to this extent. Big Sky has the space to accommodate the new features and draws visitors to sporting events, which makes it a natural location for these new bike park features," said Bronwen Mastro, a landscape architect for Bend Park and Recreation District, who's working on the project. "There was a desire for these features in general, but the east side has significantly fewer opportunities. These new features will also offer opportunities for cyclocross races and practice, adaptive bike skill development, casual biking and walking."
The project will add options for cyclists of all skill levels, and will include:
• Asphalt Pump Track: A continuous trail of berms and rollers that you ideally ride without pedaling.
• Tot Zone: A space intended for small children and beginning riders. The surface will be resilient and have undulations. The area will also include easier obstacles to develop bike skills.
• Trials Area: Trials biking is a sport in which people ride bikes on a course filled with obstacles and the rider is not allowed to place hands or feet on the ground. The course at Big Sky will primarily be boulders and logs.
• Bike Skills Development Area: A trail with man-made features to help develop a rider's skills for various obstacles.
• Single Track Trails: A network of narrow, natural surface trails in the landscape that can be ridden for pleasure and/or skill development. These trails can also be used for adaptive bikes and cyclocross racing.
• Slopestyle Trails: Longer, natural surface trails interspersed with natural and manmade obstacles to challenge riders. The start tower will allow riders with advanced skills to drop into the different courses.
• Sessions zone: This is an area of concentrated dirt rollers and obstacles.
Organizers expect the first phase of construction to be done by the end of 2022 and will include the pump track, tot zone, trials area, skills development area, single track trails and all infrastructure improvements. The second phase of construction is expected to follow in three to five years and will add the slopestyle trails and sessions zone.
Though less exciting, the infrastructure expansion is an equally important part of the process, Mastro said. An additional entrance will be placed off Hamby Road, 90 additional parking spaces will be built and a loop trail around the perimeter will increase pedestrian flow at the park.
"The existing park has a single entry off of Neff Road and the vehicle circulation has many dead ends. There is limited connected pedestrian circulation," Mastro said. "These infrastructure improvements will support current and added future use to the park."
With the infrastructure and numerous tracks and trails, BPRD expects more events at Big Sky.
"We expect mostly events around biking, particularly cyclocross and BMX," Mastro said. "Big Sky is already home to competitive BMX racing through the Bend BMX club. "Improving the infrastructure creates more opportunities for other events and gatherings as well."
Some surrounding homeowners worried that the expansion would add to noise pollution in their neighborhoods, but Mastro said there are processes in place to limit that.
"We do have certain requirements around number and size of events per year and where amplified sound is used to ensure the park is a good neighbor," Mastro said.