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Take You Higher: Get high to escape the dreaded dust

So it appears that summer is finally here in Central Oregon. There's a noticeable change in the air and on the trails.

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So it appears that summer is finally here in Central Oregon. There's a noticeable change in the air and on the trails. Routes that were snow-blocked through June are opening in places and the coming of The Dust is nigh. Make sure to bring plenty of water when you go out to combat the heat.

Some higher-elevation trails remain partially blocked by downed trees but COTA's sawyers are busy getting those cleared. South Fork, Swampy-Swede Tie (SST) and Swede Ridge trails are clear of trees. Some of the Vista Butte trails and the lower Flagline section are still snowbound and likely clogged by downed trees. The Metolious-Windigo trail above Happy Valley is not clear yet so bikers should avoid riding up North Fork as it is only one-way for bikes.

Dusty conditions have arrived on trails close to town and the rapid soil drying is moving up in elevation. During this time when trails are dry to "powdery," it becomes especially important to minimize skidding. Try to "ride with the flow" of the trail and within your limits. As this drying becomes more prevalent, mountain bikers should seek the higher elevation trails to avoid the dust.

Swampy Lakes Snow Park is a great starting point at this time of year for everything from four-mile beginner and kid-friendly loops to multi-hour epics ending back in town. Numerous ways to ride from Swampy to town provide both fun-fast-flowy rides to tight-twisty-technical routes. Consult the Central Oregon trail map (published by Adventure Maps and available in many local shops) to pick your preferred route.

COTA's trail work sessions are ongoing. Our efforts are focused on the Wanoga Trail area (South of Century Drive) and new trail construction is moving forward rapidly. A new trail connecting Wanoga to Edison Snow Park called Dinah-Moe Humm will be completed this fall enabling huge single-track loops. Other new trails being developed will connect from the existing Tiddly-winks trail over to the River Road (FS Road 41). Please join COTA on Wednesdays for our weekly work event to help create these new trail opportunities. See www.cotamtb.com for a schedule of work events.

Please send trail-related questions, comments or concerns to chairman@cotamtb.com. Happy Trails!

Woody Starr is the chairman of the Central Oregon Trail Alliance, a Bend-based mountain biking and trail construction and maintenance organization.

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