Cyclists and walkers in Bend can expect a smooth outing the next time they take to the Haul Road Trail. Construction crews recently completed a maintenance project that improved pavement on 3 miles of trail.

Sections of the trail in Bend were repaved, and the section outside Bend, which had been a raised dirt path, was paved to match other parts of the trail. The $2 million repair work started in July and wrapped up in early November.

Since its construction two decades ago, the Haul Road Trail has become a well-used route for walkers and bikers to reach the Deschutes National Forest from Bend.

Funds for the 3-mile repaving project came from the Federal Lands Access Program grant.

The Haul Road’s official start is the Bend Whitewater Park. The trail hugs Colorado Avenue and then runs parallel to SW Century Drive until it reaches the LOGE camp. At that point, it merges with the Rim Rock Trail, which provides access to the Cascade Lakes Welcome Station.

The name of the trail is a nod to the former logging route that ran from the Deschutes National Forest to Bend, a road that was used to “haul” timber from the forest to the mills.

Bronwen Mastro, Bend Park & Recreation District project manager and landscape architect, said the Haul Road Trail was heavily used and showed significant wear and tear from two decades of use.

“Now the trail improvement project is ready to connect seamlessly to our wonderland of public land,” said Mastro.

The Haul Road was fine for mountain bikers before the renovation, said Woody Keen, trails education director of the Central Oregon Trail Alliance. But Keen said the renovation will benefit road bikers, as the soft surface portion of the trail has been upgraded to a hard surface trail.

Sam Handelman, president of the Central Oregon Wheelers Bike Club, said the trail improvements offer pedestrians and cyclists “a wonderful new route” from downtown Bend to the Forest Service Welcome Center.

“It’s great that the city and parks and rec continue to invest in human-powered transportation, especially to high use recreation areas,” said Handelman.

Handelman said he was initially skeptical of the plan to build a bike path to the welcome center but seeing the entire route in action has made him change his mind.

“I realize how valuable pedestrian walkways to recreation areas are,” said Handelman. “They provide a safe, enjoyable route by themselves or as a connection to other recreation venues.”