Any time of year is an excellent time to visit southern Oregon. While summertime features activities like golf, hiking, biking, and river rafting, snowshoeing is the perfect winter activity for exploring various destinations just north of the California border. Also, with roughly 150 wineries in the region, wine tasting is a year-round must-do activity in southern Oregon.
Major snowshoeing destinations in southern Oregon include Mount Ashland, Lake of the Woods, and the ultimate bucket list adventure, Crater Lake National Park. However, there are dozens of snowshoeing options and hundreds of miles of trails throughout the region.
Southern Oregon’s prominent cities include Medford, Ashland, and Klamath Falls. Driving to the area is easy via Interstate 5, as Medford and Ashford are right off the freeway. Visitors can also fly into the Rogue Valley International Medford Airport, which puts you in the heart of everything. These three cities are relatively close to one another and offer plenty of dining, shopping, and other après’ snowshoeing options.
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Snowshoe trails are plentiful on Mount Ashland, and it’s only a 20-minute drive from the heart of downtown. While the town of Ashland has an elevation of 1,949 feet (594m), Mount Ashland tops out at 7,532 feet (2295 m) and is the highest peak in the Siskiyou Mountains of southern Oregon. The average annual snowfall on the mountain is a whopping 265 inches (673 cm).
Mount Ashland has provided outdoor adventures to visitors since opening in 1964. Snowshoeing is no exception. The Mount Ashland website summarizes available snowshoe trails and suggested destinations. You can spend an hour or two traversing gentle hills or test your stamina on several challenging peaks. For the latter, a local guide is highly recommended. For that service, look no further than Main Street Tours in Ashland. Their expert knowledge and guiding expertise are top-notch.
As a note, Mount Ashland does not rent snowshoes, but a few places do. Mountain Provisions in Ashland rents cross-country skis and snowshoes. Black Bird, a high-quality outdoor sporting equipment shop in Medford, also rents snowshoes and other cross-country gear.
If you have the time and determination, check out the Southern Oregon Nordic Club website. Their list of trails could keep you busy for weeks on end while snowshoeing throughout the region without using the same route twice. The Southern Oregon Nordic Club also serves the greater Rogue Valley with lessons, group skis, and outings.
While snowshoeing at Mount Ashland, views of picturesque Mount McLaughlin in the distance can often be seen as it stretches to 9,495 feet (2894 m) in elevation. On clear days, it is visible from many locations in southern Oregon, including Mount Ashland Ski Resort, even though Mount McLaughlin is more than 50 miles (80.5 km) away!
Read More: Oregon Winter Sports Resorts
Lake of the Woods Resort
Those staying at Lake of the Woods can rent snowshoes at the resort and go snowshoeing outside your door!
There are a few easy loops to get the blood flowing first thing in the morning. Additional snowshoe options are available at nearby Great Meadow Sno-Park. In all, the area offers more than 165 miles (265.5 km) of groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Both the Lake of the Woods turnoff and Great Meadow Sno-Park is well-signed, and the roads encircle the entire lake. Driving to Lake of the Woods Resort is less than an hour from Ashland and only 40 minutes from Klamath Falls.
Crater Lake National Park
At Crater Lake National Park, there are a variety of trails for all levels of snowshoers. You can go independently or on tour.
Guided snowshoe walks led by the park rangers have unfortunately been canceled these last two years. But that should not stop you from enjoying a guided tour. As mentioned previously, Main Street Tours, based in Ashland, offers unforgettable snowshoe tours. They can guide you around Crater Lake and introduce you to other snowshoeing options throughout southern Oregon.
For example, my guide Nathan Dwyer not only offers snowshoe tours, but he is also a walking encyclopedia. Nathan willingly shares his extensive knowledge of local history, including southern Oregon’s flora and fauna, as well as details about local wines and wineries of the area. Visitors who want a full-on understanding and appreciation of this part of the country cannot go wrong.
Also, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) meanders through portions of southern Oregon. It crosses over Hwy 140 halfway between Lake of the Woods Resort and Fish Lake.
The PCT also crosses through Mount Ashland at Grouse Gap shelter. This covered pavilion doubles as a shelter for snowshoers and cross-country skiers in winter and serves as a picnic site and rest area for through-hikers during the summer. Restrooms are available as well as fabulous views of Mount Shasta.
The PCT Association reports that the Pacific Crest Trail is around 2,650 miles (4,265 km) in length, and that figure is accurate to within 10 miles (16 km). The trail begins in Campo, a small town on the US-Mexico border. It travels north through California, Oregon, and Washington before reaching its northern terminus at the US-Canada border in Manning Park, British Columbia.
Read More: Snowshoeing Washington’s Cascade Mountains
After a day of snowshoeing on the trails, head to a nearby southern Oregon town for food and relaxation or another activity you choose.
You can use Klamath Falls as a base camp while visiting the area. With a population of 42,000 and an elevation of 4,100 feet (1,250 m), Klamath Falls is located roughly 60 miles (96.5 km) south of Crater Lake National Park and 70 miles (112.6 km) north of Mt. Shasta in northern California.
Like other cities in the region, Klamath Falls offers a variety of outdoor recreation, including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, golfing, fishing, and hunting, to name a few. This area is also excellent for bird-watching. A surprising fact – Klamath Falls has the highest concentration of bald eagles in the Pacific Northwest.
Given the area’s mild weather, sometimes in spring, you can actually golf and snowshoe on the same day. After snowshoeing at Lake of the Woods Resort, it’s an easy 30-minute drive to Running Y Ranch in Klamath Falls. One of the premier courses in the state, Running Y Ranch is the only Oregon track designed by the legendary golfer Arnold Palmer. Open year-round and overlooking the course is the Ruddy Duck Restaurant. This restaurant serves various dishes, and all meals are prepared from local, sustainable ingredients, including herbs grown right on the property in a community garden and greenhouse.
Read More: Drinks for the Après Snowshoe Experience
Town of Ashland
There are many attractions in the town of Ashland, which boasts a population of 21,000. The most prominent attraction by far is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which has offered performances annually since 1935. Visitors come from the world over to experience OSF’s live theater performances. Keep an eye on their calendar for upcoming productions.
Near the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, visitors can enjoy the bucolic nature found within Lithia Park. A respite for many residents and visitors alike, Lithia Park comprises 100 acres and enough green space to make any golfer salivate! Summertime music performances occur at the bandshell and other attractions, including two duck ponds, picnic areas, and numerous hiking trails. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, Lithia Park also offers a large playground, tennis courts, community buildings, a peaceful Japanese garden, and an ice-skating rink during winter.
You’ll find Irvine & Roberts Vineyards a few miles outside of Ashland. This is one example of the quality wines grown throughout the southern Oregon region. Irvine & Roberts is quite proud of its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. While sampling wines, visitors can enjoy lunch or take in the picturesque panorama of the vineyard grounds, which sit at 2,100 feet (640 m) of elevation.
With 150 wineries, southern Oregon features various tasting rooms, with many featuring heated outdoor patios and other welcoming gestures. For a comprehensive summary of dining, hotel, and wine-tasting options, visit Travel Southern Oregon.
What is your favorite place to go snowshoeing in southern Oregon? Have you been to any of the locations above? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.