Bend and Central Oregon are great places to visit in winter for myriad reasons: Mt. Bachelor is the sixth-largest ski resort in North America, fire pits turn up the heat on brisk afternoons, and rejuvenating day spas offer the chance to unplug from it all.
But one of the best winter activities in Central Oregon just might be snowshoeing. After all, dozens of trails totaling hundreds of miles crisscross the snowy Cascade Range just outside Bend and Sisters—many of which offer access to remote warming huts where you can enjoy the region’s snowy forests in a peaceful setting.
If you’re interested in trying the joyful activity this winter, we’ve rounded up the top 7 snowshoeing trails in Bend and beyond. They are:
Ready to hit the trail? Read on for more tips, insight, and resources to get started snowshoeing in Central Oregon.
Just 15 minutes west of Bend sits the dog-friendly Skyliners Sno-Park—sometimes confusingly called “Skyliner Sno-Park”.
You can choose among a few loops, but the most scenic of them all comprise a six-mile, round-trip trek to the base of the 97-foot-tall Tumalo Falls. The waterfall is a wildly popular summer stop, but the road to Tumalo Falls closes in winter—offering snowshoers and cross-country skiers the chance to see the icy attraction up close and away from crowds.
If taking the six-mile (round-trip) Tumalo Nordic Loop, you’ll parallel Tumalo Creek in the heart of a quiet pine forest on your way out—and return via Tumalo Falls Road after admiring the waterfall. The trail gains about 350 feet along the way, with mostly gentle, yet steady inclines.
Trails are well-marked, but snowshoers should stick to designated trails, all of which are marked with blue diamonds with a yellow snowshoer in the center. If using cross-country skiing trails, try to walk at least two feet to either side of the established ski tracks. And keep in mind that Skyliners does not require a Sno-Park permit.
Todd Lake Loop Trail
Snowshoe between one of Central Oregon’s tallest peaks and a striking glacial cirque with a snowshoeing trip that begins at Mt. Bachelor and ends at Todd Lake.
You’ll find rentals and restrooms at Mt. Bachelor—and, from there, have a few options for reaching Todd Lake. The first is to follow paths that parallel the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, which is closed beyond Mt. Bachelor between November and May; the second option is to share the snow-covered highway with snowmobilers. Either way, the turnaround point comes inside a cirque that was carved by glacial retreat some 13,000 years ago; views from the snowy shores of Todd Lake include the spiky summit of Broken Top (to the north) and Mt. Bachelor (to the south).
The loop measures five to eight miles (round-trip), depending on the specific route you take, so check in at Mt. Bachelor to see about conditions and preferred routes—and to view trail maps. (Another starting point possibility is Dutchman Sno-Park/Trailhead, though snowshoers should consult trail maps beforehand.) Elevation gain is minimal, but the distance may render this trip more suitable for hearty snowshoers. And if you head to the shore of Todd Lake, note that it may be covered in snow—so take care not to step onto the lake.
Shevlin Loop Trail
The Sno-Parks along Southwest Century Drive and the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway get a lot of attention from avid outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy snowshoeing near Bend, Oregon—which is what makes the 4.5-mile Shevlin Loop Trail at Shevlin Park such a fun, quiet outing.
Just four miles west of Bend, Shevlin Park offers an extensive network of ungroomed trails that largely head through a forest of ponderosa pine—making it easy to tailor a trip to your skill and experience levels when the snow piles up. If you’re up for a fun challenge, consider the well-signed Shevlin Loop Trail circles the park while following (and crossing) Tumalo Creek and offering scenic forest views. Total elevation change is about 300 feet. Those looking for an easier outing can follow a flat access road that heads into the heart of the park.
Another bonus: Shevlin Park doesn’t require Sno-Park permits, and restrooms are on site.
Tumalo Mountain Snowshoeing
Snowshoeing up Tumalo Mountain is a rite of passage for hearty locals and dedicated visitors, and it’s easy to see why. From the summit, 360-degree views include Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, South Sisters, and the community of Bend.
You’ll work to earn those views, but they’re worth it. Just 25 minutes southwest of Bend, park at Dutchman Sno-Park/Trailhead, strap on your snowshoes and begin your ascent. Trail markers are infrequent to non-existent, so you may want to brush up on your navigation skills before attempting this trek; that said, given its popularity, you can almost always follow a set of tracks. It’s a two-mile trek up the mountain, with about 1,300 feet of elevation gain. Keep in mind that pets are not permitted on this trail.
Friendly tip: The parking lot at Dutchman Flat (which the Sno-Park provides access to) fills to capacity early on weekends—this is one of the most popular snowshoeing trails near Bend, Oregon—especially when fresh powder has fallen and it’s a bluebird day. Try to start your ascent by 9 a.m. for your best shot at a parking spot.
Peak View Snowshoe Trail
When it was built in 2018, the Peak View Snowshoe Trail was the first designated snowshoe trail on the Sisters Ranger District, which sits within the wider Deschutes National Forest. Originally designed to separate cross-country skiers and snowshoers, the trail has since evolved into a beloved destination just a short drive from Sisters.
Today, the three-mile (round-trip) trail gains about 650 feet of elevation while offering wide-open views of Mount Jefferson and other Cascade mountains while passing a warming shelter—the perfect place to enjoy lunch and get cozy on your adventure. The out-and-back path departs from Upper Three Creek Sno-Park, roughly 11 miles and 20 minutes south of Sisters.
Photo Credit: Bob Timmer
Wanoga Sno-Park Snowshoe Trails
Wanoga Snow Play Area Sno-Park is one of the most popular Sno-Parks near Bend and around Central Oregon—and for good reason: From the popular park, it’s possible to go snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, fat biking, and even sledding on a hill adjacent to the parking area.
But the dog-friendly Sno-Park also hosts a pair of short, mostly flat dedicated snowshoeing loops that head through a quiet pine forest just 14 miles southwest of Bend. The Northstar Snowshoe Loop and Come Snowshoe Loop add up to about one mile round-trip, are mostly flat, and are well-groomed for snowshoers of all skill and experience levels. And when you need to shake off winter’s chill, a warming hut at the trailhead boasts a wood stove.
Meissner Sno-Park Snowshoe Trails
Meissner Sno-Park/Trailhead, named in memory of longtime author and cross-country ski instructor Virginia Meissner, sits just 20 minutes southwest of Bend—and in the midst of several multi-use trails that head to some of the six warming huts that sit in (and around) the popular park.
Within the park, two dedicated snowshoe loops head to these huts. The first (and easier) of the two loops is the trail that heads to the Meissner warming shelter; depending on whether you do an out-and-back jaunt or turn it into a loop, the mostly flat trek measures 2.5-2.75 miles (round-trip) while passing through a bucolic pine forest.
The most challenging of the trails is the 1.5-mile (round-trip) trek to the Nordeen warming hut. This path is mostly flat, other than a quarter-mile stretch where it gains a thigh-busting 200 feet of elevation. If you’re up for a longer outing, continue west from the Nordeen shelter—and onto the popular Swampy Lakes Sno-Park/Trailhead; this side trip adds five miles (round-trip) and 200 feet of elevation gain to your excursion.
Learn more about the Meissner Nordic Ski Club, which teams up with the U.S. Forest Service to maintain the vast network of snowshoe and cross-country skiing trails in the winter months—partly by grooming trails daily between December and March.
Note that, unless otherwise specified, all of the trails mentioned here require an Oregon Sno-Park Parking Permit when visiting between November and April; these permits help maintain the state’s Sno-Parks, snowshoe trails, and warming huts all winter long. A daily Sno-Park permit runs $4, a three-day (consecutive) pass costs $9, and an annual permit costs $25; annual passes are available online, and permits of all levels can be purchased at local outlets (such as REI, specific retailers, and local resorts). Learn more about Central Oregon Sno-Parks.
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Easy Hikes in Bend and Around Central Oregon
Bend has been referred to as an outdoor paradise, and it’s easy to see why. From rolling high desert hills and arid plains to forested and snow-capped mountain peaks with lakes and rivers throughout, visiting Bend and Central Oregon is perfect if you love adventure. There is no shortage of trails to be explored in the region; you have your pick of distance, difficulty, and landscape. To help get you started, here are five easy hikes we recommend in Bend and around Central Oregon.
With more than 300 miles of trails crisscrossing the region, Central Oregon is a mountain bikers’ paradise. All year long, riders can shred singletrack trails in the region’s high desert expanse, descend through forests of ponderosa pine, enjoy sweeping views of nearby peaks, and test their mettle on technical challenges designed by—and for—avid mountain bikers.
Central Oregon Hiking Trails
Head east on Highway 20 (Greenwood Avenue) to the Pilot Butte State Park. The parking area and trailhead are just east of the butte. Walk on either the nature trail or the paved road. The road is also for vehicle traffic, weather permitting. It is a wonderful viewpoint for the entire Bend area. This hiking trail is one of the most popular in Central Oregon.