It’s no secret winter can be tough on the outdoor lover in Oregon. With all the snow and the road closures, hiking can be difficult, not to mention, dangerous. But, as any true Oregonian will tell you when the going gets tough, the tough get their snowshoes on. Even the toughest hiking boots won’t create enough traction to prevent slippage on those icy trails.
That’s the great thing about snowshoeing. With snowshoes, you can get out and hike in those off-limit trails. It’s beautiful being outside with the snow all around you and the smell of pine. Here are just a few of the top snowshoeing spots in Bend and Central Oregon that are worth stepping into:
Spectacular views just keep coming with the scenery. Be sure to take in eyefuls of Mt. Bachelor, the Three Sisters, and the Broken Top. There is an official trail to the summit that begins just north of the Dutchman Flat Sno-Park parking area .
FYI: The parking lot fills up quickly in the winter. Be prepared!
When you get to Tumalo Falls, get ready to stomp your snowshoes into a 2.5-mile trail of glaciated valley filled with ponderosa pines dating back 30 years. Take in a breath of fresh air and remember to catch a glimpse of Central Oregon’s tallest waterfall while you’re there. It will be frozen in your memory forever.
To get to Tumalo Falls, Bend, travel 11.6 miles west on Skyliner’s Road (4601), then 2.6 miles west on Forest Road 4603.
Swampy Lake Sno-Park
Swampy Lake Sno-Park has four trails designed exclusively for snowshoers. Not only are the trails tailored to the snowshoeing experience, (They provide a slower trek with more terrain, in contrast to the straighter faster pace of ski trails), they also keep the friction down between Team Ski and Team Snowshoe (trust us, it can get ugly).
If you want to find a peaceful experience in more ways than one, travel west on Cascade Lakes Highway (Road 46) approx. 17 miles to find yourself at Swampy Lake. Be sure to check out Porcupine Snowshoe Loop. With 4.1 miles of wintery terrain and cabins along the route, it’s a shoo-in for the snowshoe crowd.
Virginia Meissner Sno Park
Virginia Meissner Sno Park ‘s lodge is open to the public and the public is in for a treat. If you snowshoe to the Meisner Shelter you’ll get a breathtaking view of the cascade mountains. Travel west on Cascade Lakes Highway (46) approximately 15 miles to the trailhead. There you’ll find …… The wood-burning stove is lit most weekends.With two shelters you can snowshoe to Meissner Shelter and Nordeen Shelter, you’ll have your choice of winter decadence. Check out the trail map here.
Edison Butte Snow Park
This park allows dogs! Fortunately, your pooch won’t need to be fitted for snowshoes, but you may want to put him or her in a little jacket to keep the chill off. After you and your furry friend finish braving the trails, take a break from the snow in a rustic winter cabin and cuddle up around the wood stove. To get to Edison Butte Snow Park, travel 19 miles west on Cascade Lakes Highway (46), then 4 miles south on Forest Road 45.
Skyliner Snow Park
Tumalo Falls is an amazing sight to see but some of us want to earn our view. This adds on more miles as you snowshoe through the trees and over a gurgling creek. Don’t worry about getting lost. Just stay right on the way there and you will be sure to reach that gorgeous view. Tumalo Falls is a 6.5 mile trek from the snow park. To get to Skyliner Snow Park, travel west on Skyliners Road. (county road 4601) approx. 10 miles .
Imagine hiking through the tall trees and then entering a clearing to a lake surrounded by snow. Now you can take the trail from Dutchman Flat to Todd Lake. To get to Dutchman Flat (travel west on Cascade Lakes Highway (46) approximately 22 miles) to Todd Lake. A loop starts at the bulletin board at the Common Corridor and goes to the Todd Lake summer parking lot. From there, snowshoe about 1/10 mile to Todd Lake on the nordic trail.
Other Snowshoe Trails in Oregon
Crater Lake in Southern Oregon
What to know before you go
- Avoid stepping on cross-country tracks
- Look up at the trees to see the blue snowshoe markers
- Don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen. The glare from the sun can be brutal.
- Wear waterproof boots with your snowshoes
- For the cardio sensitive….it’s easier to walk in the tracks made by the person in front of you.
- Sno-Parks permit is required for parking November 1 – April 30. (NW Forest pass is not considered a Sno-Park Pass)
- Here is where you can buy them. Here is a list of all of the Sno-Parks in Oregon
Want more information on what to wear and pack for snowshoeing? I love this snowshoeing article from REI.