Collecting Bend trail user data helps park district plan

District has 15 trail counters around the area

District collects trail user data

BEND, Ore. - The Bend Park and Recreation District has 15 trail counters set up throughout the Bend area. These counters collect data on the number of users who use the trails each day, month and year. 

The counters use infrared technology to record anyone who walks by. 

"We try to get out on them as often as we can," Bend resident Cristine Morris said Monday. "Obviously, I walk from my work and use this trail daily. They are plowed, they are nice, and they are wonderful to use."

Eight counters were put out in 2014, and that number has since grown.

The Deschutes River Trail at the Colorado Avenue underpass and South Canyon, as well as the Coyner Trail, are some of the paths with counters on them. 

"I ride my bike (at Sawyer Park) and at Phil's Trail as well," said Bend resident Kathy Hovermale. "I am on the trails probably every day."

The district's natural resource manager, Jeff Amaral, said the data shows the most popular season to use trails is in the summer and at midday. 

A few trails show peaks in the morning and late afternoon, which tells the park district it's probably a commuter trail. 

"By knowing the trail-use trend data, we are able to more efficiently manage the trails, are better able to meet the needs of trail users, and we are able to plan for future trail connectivity," Amaral said. "We see use patterns linked to the weather, so last winter, with the particularly snowy winter, we had fewer usage in the park, which makes sense, but from year to year it's been pretty consistent."

Amaral said the most frequently used area is the Bend Whitewater Park. The counter recorded about 1,700 people going through the passageway each day and 155,000 people going through during June, July, and August. 

The park district partnered with the Central Oregon Irrigation District  to enhance the trails along the canal in town. That project will improve the trail surface. 

The remainder of the data will be presented at the park district's board meeting Tuesday night. 

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