JOHN DAY - Expect even more cyclists to come through Grant County to enjoy the beautiful scenery - and spend money, too.
The Old West Trail, a 199-mile loop connecting John Day, Prairie City, Dayville and Kimberly, is on its way to designation as an Oregon Scenic Bikeway.
The Old West route is one of eight that have been proposed and submitted to the Oregon Scenic Bikeway Committee. Local citizens - such as Mike Cosgrove in Grant County - made the recommendations. The committee visited the areas and voiced approval earlier this month.
Should the route be approved by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), it would follow the path of the Willamette Valley route, which is the nation's first state-designated scenic bikeway. Travel Oregon will advertise the routes internationally.
The route will bring more tourism, and resulting tourism dollars to Grant County, said Cosgrove.
"It's a real compliment to our communities," he said. "This is a really well-accepted scenic bikeway. When people came here to evaluate the route, they were very impressed with the scenery, the facilities we have. We have a great thing here."
Cosgrove also gets feedback from visiting cyclists. A couple from North Carolina a few weeks ago, he said, noted they had a very positive experience. They stayed here, did a lot, and "put hundreds of dollars into Grant County in a very short period of time," he said.
"This is to encourage economic development, people coming from outside the area," said Cosgrove. People spend money at restaurants and motels and support businesses, in what is hoped is a chain reaction benefit.
"We're hoping it spreads out, a few more people spending money in our community is our goal, a small tool for economic development," he added.
Next, Cosgrove must submit management plans that include maps, sign locations and marketing proposals to OPRD.
He's working on that this fall and will consult with people in the seven communities on the trail.
The scenic bikeway program was established in 2008, and includes a partnership between Cycle Oregon, Travel Oregon, the Oregon Department of Transportation and OPRD.
The Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway is a 132-mile route between Champoeg State Heritage Area and Armitage County Park, north of Eugene. The bikeway serves as model for Oregon's scenic bikeway program.
Two other proposed routes are in Eastern Oregon: Grand Tour, a 130-mile, figure-eight route linking La Grande, Union and Baker City; and Blue Mountain Century loop, a 108-mile loop connecting Heppner, Ukiah and Vinson.
Other proposed bikeways include two on the westside: McKenzie Pass, a 40-mile linear route following Highway 242 over McKenzie Pass between Sisters and McKenzie Bridge, and Dorena Lake Loop, a 23-mile loop partially following an off-road path and back roads between Cottage Grove and Dorena Reservoir at the southern end of the Willamette Valley.
In Central Oregon, three routes are proposed: Camp Sherman, a network of five, 17- and 21-mile loops passing through Camp Sherman near Sisters; Sisters-Smith Rock, a 44-mile linear route between Sisters and Smith Rock State Park; and Twin Bridges Loop, a 32-mile loop ride on back roads between Bend and Tumalo.
Cosgrove, a retired school counselor and avid cyclist, said he's working for the trail designation as a volunteer for Grant County Chamber of Commerce, which is very supportive of the effort. "It's my little bit to help improve the situation here," he added.