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Winter Hikes in Central Oregon: Big Pine Loop Hike at LaPine State Park

Winter is undeniably the quiet season at LaPine State Park, not far from the community of La Pine. Gone are the anglers, floaters, paddlers, and most of the campers who buzz about on busy summer weekends. In their place, a quieter, more contemplative experience awaits hikers in winter—all without the rigors of a heart-pumping challenge.

The park’s Big Pine Loop, accessible to hikers (and occasionally snowshoers) all winter long, introduces some of the park’s most breathtaking natural features in a relaxing setting. The trail snakes through forests of Ponderosa pine and passes the bucolic Deschutes River at times; there you can occasionally spy Paulina Peak to the southeast. Deer, elk, river otters, and various waterfowl are just some of the wildlife you might see along the way. 

But the undeniable centerpiece of the park is “Big Tree”, the largest Ponderosa pine in Oregon; at roughly 500 years old, the tree measures 162 feet tall and more than 27 feet around.

Visit the Oregon Hikers Field Guide for turn-by-turn directions on this specific loop, but keep in mind: The park’s roughly 15 miles of multi-use trails are well-signed, making it easy to extend (or shorten) your hike and tailor it to your own experience.

Keep in mind: The park may be blanketed if it’s snowed recently; check weather conditions before heading out to ensure the trail is accessible in winter.

Directions to Trailhead: From La Pine, head north on U.S. 97. After 7.3 miles, turn left onto State Recreation Road, following a sign for LaPine State Park. After 3.8 miles, you’ll pass a sign and officially enter the park.

Distance: 4.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 175 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Additional Information: Visit Oregon State Park’s website for LaPine State Park for more information on visiting, hiking, and other fun activities.

Matt Wastradowski
Matt Wastradowski
Visit Central Oregon

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