The 47-mile trek between Rocky Point on Upper Klamath Lake and Crater Lake Lodge could become one of the next official Oregon scenic bikeways.
Discover Klamath proposed the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Bikeway to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department bikeway program, and it is now one of four finalists being considered for official designation.
Two years ago the state approved 12 scenic bikeways, all in the northern half of the Oregon. Discover Klamath Executive Director Jim Chadderdon said when the chance to apply came up again this year, his organization rallied local support to get a bikeway for Klamath.
A previously selected scenic bikeway loop would run east of Ashland, on Greensprings Highway and Dead Indian Memorial Road, looping past Howard Prairie Lake.
“We knew the window was going to be open,” he said of the application time. “We formed a team knowing this thing was going to open up.”
The team, led by Discover Klamath, proposed the 47-mile route from Rocky Point to Crater Lake Lodge heading north by following Westside Road and Highway 62.
The team submitted the application in March. On Friday the group evaluating the routes made the first cuts, and the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Bikeway was one of the final four.
“We’re in the running,” Chadderdon said.
The next step comes Sept. 23, when the evaluation group will come to Klamath.
“They want to hear it, straight-up, that there’s interest and enthusiasm for this and that the community will get behind it and support it,” Chadderdon said.
Chadderdon and Jim “Cap” Caplan, with Cycle Umpqua, spoke to the Klamath County Commissioners about the bikeway program Wednesday. Cycle Umpqua also proposed a route, from Crater Lake to the Umpqua Lighthouse at Winchester Bay, but it was eliminated in Friday’s cut.
Still, Caplan said, cycling is a niche tourism industry that fits rural Southern Oregon. He said cycling is a $1 billion industry in Oregon, with $400 million in tourism and $600 million in bicycle manufacture and repair.
“What we want people to do is discover us,” Caplan said, noting some parts of the state are mobbed with cyclists, while Southern Oregon roadways remain relatively empty.
“People are looking for much better opportunities. We want to show them we’ve got them.”
He suggested partnering with Klamath County to better promote cycling in the area.
“The good news is, we’re looking to get a bigger piece of that $400 million in bicycling tourism,” Chadderdon said of the bikeway program. “And, hey, if it can attract economic development to our region, I think that would be good here — a good fit for Klamath.”