By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Mandy Powell of Bend hasn’t been to the top of Pilot Butte in over a year, finding it difficult to walk up with her two young sons, Theodore and Huxley.
They all got to ride up Friday.
“The accessibility that it’s given to be able to head up the hill again,” Powell said. “Looking at our sites, it’s really a positive, exciting time just feeling like things are available again.”
Friday marked the first time in 17 months cars could be driven to the peak of Pilot Butte.
It closed for the winter in November 2019 and remained closed to cars during its typical “open season” last summer due to COVID. Eliminating car traffic reduced the number of people congregating at the top.
Portland resident Andrea Brown would agree.
Brown says she didn’t have much trouble driving past pedestrians on her way up the butte.
“People are ready to be outside,” Brown said. “So they’re just on their way, and we’re on our way, and as long as we both know we’re headed in the same direction, it’s respectful.”
Kim McFadden moved to Bend in the midst of Pilot Butte’s road closure.
McFadden has become used to the lack of drivers and doesn’t think cars should be allowed up, unless the person inside is handicap.
“You know I would imagine as the summer came and it got more crowded, how everyone is going to fit,” McFadden said. “Trying to walk with some kind of distance and feel comfortable, and then have cars going up and down the road. It just seems like it would be rather crowded.”
That concern is not necessarily addressed in Oregon State Parks’ updated “Master Plan.”
What we will see at some point are new access points.
“Particularly, at Lafayette and Derek Drive, the plan is to put some kiosks in there with some maps and wayfinding signs,” Joe Wanamaker, park manager said. “Just get those access points formalized a little bit because right now they’re not really marked.”
Next up, Cascade Lakes Highway and Paulina Lake Road should be open prior to Memorial Day weekend.
The Old McKenzie Highway opens June 21st.