Directional Trails

One Way, the Fun Way: Directional Trails Program

COTA and the Deschutes National Forest are implementing directional trail routes with the goal of improving trail user experience in the trails west of Bend.

Beginning Saturday, April 5, 2014 the proposed one-way routes include:

  1. Phils Trail Complex: Ben’s Trail and Phil’s Trail. Ben’s will be uphill only from Phil’s trailhead to Road 300. Phil’s will be downhill only from the three way intersection at Kent’s (#18) to Phil’s trailhead. No other trails within the lower triangle will be directional. Whoops will remain downhill only.  View Phil’s Trail Complex Map
  2. Wanoga: Tyler’s Traverse will be downhill from the intersection of the Kiwa Butte Trail to Conklin Road, with the exception of a short two-way section, from the Duodenum/Road 260 intersection down to Road 50 (about ½ mile).

Why do we need more directional trails?

What if… you decided to go for a ride in the Phil’s complex, from Phil’s Trailhead up to Road 300 and back and only saw a few other riders? What if… that ride took place at 5pm on weekday or 10am on Saturday? Impossible?

That’s the point of the Directional Trails Plan. Go on your ride, when you want and have minimal interruptions of your ride. Directional trails have several benefits:

  1. Safety. With ever-increasing numbers of users, there is an increased risk of serious collision between users going uphill and downhill on the same trail. Having directional trails allows users to choose a route where head on collisions are not a concern.
  2. Less conflict. As trail users, we seek to recreate in the forest with minimal conflict and the increased traffic was increasing the incidences of personal conflict when users were not heeding to proper trail etiquette. Having select one-way trails will help mitigate user conflict.
  3. Continuity. Directional trails will increase continuity of a ride, with little or no stopping to let others pass, providing a much more enjoyable experience for all users.
  4. Perceived solitude. While our trails are becoming heavily populated, riding on directional trails has the ability to make it seem that there are less people out there at one given time. Users can more fully enjoy the outdoors when they see less people.
  5. One-way so more can play. Directional trails will allow for an increased capacity on the trail network, particularly during the high season and weekends.
  6. Keeping singletrack single. As the trails become more crowded, the continuous passing of users going both directions has impacted the trails. Many riders simply ride off the trail, not wanting to stop to let the uphill rider go ahead. With directional trails, there will be very minimal passing; therefore the trails remain appropriately single.

When does this take effect?

Saturday April 5th in the Phil’s Trail Complex and as the snow recedes from the Wanoga Network. We will have COTA representatives at the trailhead and on the trails to talk to riders.

Will there be signs?

Yes, there will be clear directional signage. This will help out-of-towners and tourists to know where to go.

Does the directional signage apply to all user groups?

Yes, all user groups are encouraged to follow the signage. We included other user groups in the process and earned the support of the Central Oregon Running Klub (CORK) and the DogPAC as well as the Deschutes National Forest.

Who enforces the directional trails? Will I be arrested, fined or beaten if I get a mechanical and need to turn around?

These new directional trails are no different than Whoops Trail. There is no law against riding the other way. However, with the volume of traffic on most days, riding against traffic wouldn’t be much fun.

Why were certain trails made a certain direction?

The Phil’s Trail Complex is best known for its traditional cross-country riding. We aimed to have the longest and most uninterrupted loop while maintaining the most ride options. A nod was made to support the desires and needs of uphill riders, primarily as other areas are already given the nod to the more downhill riders.

  • Ben’s Trail is a natural up-route because it has the most intersections, making turn around loops most viable to allow for shorter loops.
  • Phil’s Canyon with the steepest section of trail in the Lower Phil’s Complex, is a natural downhill route allowing riders uninterrupted descents.
  • Kent’s trail is rated as a full “green” (easiest) trail in the Complex, and will remain two-way to allow beginner riders an easy uphill/downhill route.

The Wanoga Complex has a more downhill orientation with the greater elevation loss as well as the fact it is used for cycling events and races. Therefore we gave the nod to the downhill routes. Tyler’s Traverse was chosen to be mostly downhill as it is the newest and has the greatest elevation loss per mile of any of the Wanoga trails. The overgrown roads that parallel the one-way downhill sections provide social uphill routes.

Will the Phil’s area trails change at all? Will the downhill routes become more challenging or modified like Tiddlywinks?

No. These trails are classified as “classic” trail design and they will not be changed or modified other than with regular trail maintenance as needed.

Why doesn’t COTA just build new trails rather than establish existing trails as directional?

Unfortunately, getting new trails isn’t that simple. We can’t just get new trails anywhere or anytime we want them. The Forest Service follows strict national environmental regulations that limit the development of trail density due largely to the possible impacts on wildlife.

The good news – we are building new trail! The Forest Service has approved nearly 12 miles of new singletrack associated with their new “Welcome Center” at the intersection of Conklin Rd (41) and Century Drive.

What can I do if I like or don’t like the way Directional Trails are working?

  • First, give it an honest test ride. Go for a few rides and observe the number of riders at the trailhead/intersections and the number of riders you pass along the trail.
  • Whether you like it or not, let us know. COTA is responsive the community’s needs. We are active citizens and volunteers looking to maintain and improve the quality trail systems that many of us moved here to enjoy.
  • Send us an email, post your comment on Facebook, Twitter or on Oregon page. Send the local Deschutes National Forest an email or call them.
  • Let both COTA and the FS know what you like or what you think can be better.

Why don’t we do a system where odd days go one way and even days go the other way?

We talked with other areas and they are reported that it was too confusing and users were not happy with those systems. Particularly in our area, where we have a large tourist contingent, this would be quite difficult to communicate.

How did this happen? Why wasn’t I asked?

COTA is an all-volunteer non-profit organization that has a Board of Directors and many volunteers of varying involvement. The idea of directional trails has been brought up within COTA in the past. Last fall, we were approached by an active volunteer (non-Board member) about the idea of directional trails. The Board then decided to explore this idea. We assembled a committee of 1/3 board members and 2/3 community members. As we went through the process, we encouraged our committee members to share the process with small circles (such as bike shop employees, fellow riders, etc.) to get feedback. We took that feedback seriously.

We simply felt we needed to get this process done before the beginning of the 2014 riding season and we had a committed volunteer to head up the process. Over the last few years, we have had much feedback about the crowding of trails, the higher incidences of collisions and the issue of trail widening by passing riders.

We encourage you to get involved in COTA. We are always in need of volunteers that can put time into both planning and building trails. Visit our website at for more information.
Contact COTA regarding directional trails: