You don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie to enjoy Central Oregon in the winter. For some, a relaxing trip into the woods in the snow is enough to get their heart pumping.
So now’s the time to get out there and explore Central Oregon’s sno-parks just a short drive from Bend and Sunriver. The sno-parks with Nordic, snowshoe and snowmobile trails offer a diverse opportunity to enjoy the snow.
We’ll start low and move our way up Cascade Lakes Highway toward Mt. Bachelor:
One of the most popular trailheads for XC skiers, this area offers more than 14 miles of some of the best maintained trails in the area– with grooming handled by a local non-profit Nordic ski group. There’s a large yurt at the trailhead, vault toilet on site and a little food truck that serves warm drinks and some food.
Wanoga features one of the region’s only true sledding hills and is very popular family fun area. That half of the sno-park includes a warming shelter wired for electricity and a food cart that also sells Forest Service passes if you forgot to get one in town.
A separate area of the park is open to snowmobilers who can access more than 180 miles of groomed trails. Signs near the entrance point you in the right direction. This part of the park is also newly popular among fat bikers.
More access to trails for skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers, the Swampy trailhead launches more than 25 miles of trails with several warming shelters along the way. A couple of different snowshoe loops are available including the 3.25 mile “long loop.”
You’ll need to veer off the Cascade Lake Scenic byway for a couple miles at the Sunriver cutoff to get to this sno-park. It offers 24 miles of Nordic trails with two shelters. It also has access to 150 miles of snowmobile trails and three shelters.
Dutchman is adjacent to the Mt. Bachelor ski area and is a very popular trailhead for snowmobilers, snowshoers and Nordic skiers. The parking area typically fills up in the winter, so be prepared heading up. Once you’re there, enjoy 19 miles of XC ski trails for all abilities and access to 150 miles of groomed snowmobiling routes. The trailhead features a vault toilet as well. From here you can trek into the woods toward Elk Lake and Elk Lake Resort for a quick bite or a night’s stay in a rustic cabin.
Here, 35 miles of groomed trails await cross country skiers from November through late May. A small lodge offers rentals, equipment sales, hot and cold drinks and possibly the best burritos in Central Oregon.