With an unusually warm winter that has been full of sunshine and rain the locals and visitors to Oregon are practically begging for the white stuff. From local breweries that are labeling their winter ales “pray for snow” to roadside signs asking passerby’s to “wish for the white stuff”; this is definitely not a normal winter in Oregon. But the good news is there are still some excellent places to snowshoe in Oregon where the snow has fallen and snowshoeing in a t-shirt with the sun out is a pretty epic experience that you can’t get anywhere else. Discover five places in this beautiful state where you can strap on your snowshoes and discover the breathtaking views and surroundings.
1. Timberline Lodge
This historic lodge sits 6,000 feet up on Mt. Hood and is one of the few places in Oregon you can find enough snow to snowshoe on. Did we mention that the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) runs through here, the infamous Magic Mile chairlift resides here (although replaced twice since it’s original in 1938) and Timberline Lodge offers some of the best dining and accommodation in the area? But first; back to the snowshoeing. From timberline lodge snowshoers can head to the rental building and pick up a pair of snowshoes and poles for the day. A marked trail sets out from the lodge and runs about a mile loop giving snowshoers views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson and the surrounding area.
For those of us who like to go off the beaten path there is plenty of opportunity to snowshoe up Mt. Hood via the PCT; provided the signs aren’t buried with snow or to head up outside of the ski area. A good starting point is to snowshoe vertically 1,000 feet up to Silcox Hut; a private group hideaway lodge that you might be able to peek into if you are lucky enough. Another 1,500 feet up is the top of the upper ski lift and on a clear day views from here are pretty fantastic. Round out your daily snowshoe trip with a meal at one of the fabulous restaurants; whether it is in the Cascades dining room with their award-winning chef or the Blue Ox Bar; tucked deep into the walls of the lodge where it was once thought to be quite the watering hole during prohibition. Find out more http://www.timberlinelodge.com/
2. Tumalo Mountain
Standing at the top of Tumalo Mountain snowshoers are greeted with one of the best views of the Three Sisters. This “backcountry” trail is also covered with plenty of snow and can be done in just a few hours; with a few key stops along the way to check out the amazing views. Although the trail is not marked in the winter visitors will most likely find other tracks to follow or choose to create their own; as there is only one way to go here and that is up. The gradual sloping butte looks underwhelming so prepare yourself for the steepness that comes just before the summit.
You will have to bring your own snowshoes here and make sure to have a Sno-Park permit to park in the Dutchman-Flat Sno-Park parking lot. On the way up keep your eyes peeled for snowshoe hare, different species of birds and other wildlife that tend to hide in the shadows of the forest. As the air starts to thin and the landscape turns into something resembling the tundra your journey to the top will be almost complete. Make sure to pack plenty of water, a snack to enjoy at the top and layer your clothing. Mt. Bachelor, the Three Sisters, Broken Top, Mt. Shasta and the city of Bend will all be visible on a clear day and you will want to spend plenty of time lingering at the top of this mountain. Find out more http://www.trails.com/tcatalog_trail.aspx?trailid=SGW014-036
3. Crater Lake National Park
With an average of 44 feet of snow every year it is hard to imagine that Crater Lake National Park is seeing just over 3 feet currently. But that shouldn’t stop snowshoers from getting out there and exploring this beautiful winter wonderland. The Visitors Centre at Park Headquarters is a great place to start for suggestions on snowshoeing trails and they are one of few facilities that remain open throughout the winter. Make sure you have brought your own snowshoes or rented them before hand as there are no rentals on-site.
Snowshoeing the Rim of Crater Lake is truly an exceptional experience. On a good sunny day, like so many have been this year the lake will sparkle with the deepest blue you could have ever imagined. There are plenty of day hikes for snowshoers but be sure to be prepared for ever-changing weather and know where you are going. For the die-hard snowshoers; the 33 mile trek around the entire rim offers a huge challenge with no amenities or facilities along the way with the possibilities of avalanches. For the everyday trekker though this National Park is begging to be explored and no matter how beautiful you thought it was in the summer, prepare to be blown away by its winter wonderland that it offers.Find out more at http://www.craterlakeinstitute.com/planning-visit/activities/skiing-snowshoeing.htm
4. Mt. Hood Meadows
Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort is one of the few ski resorts in the state to be open and with a base layer of 32 inches of snow they are up and operating business as usual. This is good news for snowshoers as this ski resort offers plenty of options for those wanting to forgo the slopes and hit the trails. Located on the southeast flank of Mt. Hood, snowshoers can expect sunny conditions with little wind and breathtaking views; the perfect combination for a day of fun. Mt. Hood Meadows has teamed up with Tubbs Snowshoes to provide visitors with snowshoe rentals at a low daily cost for an exceptional pair of innovative snowshoes and poles.
Three trails that loop from the main lodge range from about 1.1 miles to 2.5 miles round trip and offer the opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the ski and snowboard area. The Umbrella Fall route will take you through a unique subalpine mosaic consisting of 19 individual wetlands, meadows and forests. At the end of your trek make sure to grab a bite at one of nine eating establishments offered throughout the resort. A picturesque day of trekking in the beautiful sun followed by a delicious meal is what awaits snowshoers at Mt. Hood Meadows. Find out more at https://www.skihood.com/
5. Mt. Bachelor
Go where the snow is we say and perhaps the best spot to find that fluffy white stuff is Mt. Bachelor. With a base depth of 50 inches and snow falling daily, it seems that winter has finally arrived on this beautiful mountain. Luckily Mt. Bachelor has plentiful opportunities for snowshoers, both guided and non-guided. Snowshoe rentals can be picked up at the Nordic Center and for a reasonable price can be rented for the entire day. While there make sure to purchase a trail pass which will give you access to the entire Mt. Bachelor cross-country trail system. Consisting of thirteen trails that range from half a mile to twelve miles; there is something for every type of snowshoer here.
For the beginner snowshoer that is interested in learning more about winter ecology; Mt. Bachelor has just the program for you. Free 90 minute interpretative snowshoe tours are currently offered weekends, holidays and school vacations with a forest service naturalist. Snowshoes are provided for those that do not have their own and the guide will take you through a mini lesson on the geology of Central Oregon and the plants and animals that are found in the area. If snowshoeing doesn’t tire you out, Mt. Bachelor has spectacular downhill skiing and snowboarding with rentals on-site; and a variety of eateries to curb any appetite. Discover the ski resort that offers snowshoers a variety of trails and a whole lot of snow! Find out more at http://www.mtbachelor.com/
Interested in visiting Oregon, visit http://visitcentraloregon.com/ for more information.