There’s a beautiful simplicity in snowshoeing. Unlike some winter activities, it requires little skill to get started, and is an inclusive, all-ages way to get outside with friends and family. The possibilities of where you can explore on snowshoes are pretty much endless in Central Oregon, with sno-parks spread throughout the region offering access to miles of groomed and backcountry trails, spectacular views and glimpses of icy waterfalls. Places to rent snowshoes can be readily found, and the forests are endless. And as with any winter sport, be prepared! Bring lots of layers for varying conditions, pack plenty of food and water, a waterproof shell and a map to keep you on track. If you’re parking at any Oregon sno-park, don’t forget to buy a single-day or annual sno-park permit.
So, cinch down those straps, put one foot in front of the other, and read on to decide where you want to get your snowshoe on!
Top Areas to Snowshoe Near Bend and Mt. Bachelor
Snowshoeing trailheads to start your treks are easy to find just outside of Bend. Simply driving 15-30 minutes, multiple sno-parks on both sides of the road have trailheads to miles of snowshoeing, from flatter terrain to sweat-inducing cardio climbs. You can also easily access these sno-parks from Sunriver.
Skyliners Sno-Park and Tumalo Falls Snowshoeing
A mere 10-15 minutes up Skyliners Road from Bend is Skyliners Sno-Park. (You’ll be sharing the DOG-FRIENDLY trails with cross-country skiers, so be considerate by snowshoeing to either side of the ski tracks.) From here, snowshoers can meander several snowshoe loops that start near the historic timber Skyliner Lodge. The longer Tumalo Nordic Loop takes you along Tumalo Creek through manzanita and ponderosa pines, up to majestic Tumalo Falls. From here, adventurous snowshoers can continue up the North Fork Trail for steeper climbing, or return along the Tumalo Road back to the Lodge. This sno-park also has trails that connect to the near-Labyrinthian trail network between Skyliners and the Cascade Lakes Highway to Mt. Bachelor. Take the South Fork trail to the Swampy Lakes Trail and shelter where you can warm up by the fire for lunch.
Tumalo Mountain Snowshoeing
For a hardy snowshoeing mission, head a half an hour up the Cascade Lakes Highway to Dutchman Sno-Park. Since it’s multi-use (snowmobiling and skiing access), be prepared for a packed parking lot during peak days and times: weekends, holidays and fresh powder days. From the parking lot, you’ll immediately start climbing to reach the summit of Tumalo Butte via the Tumalo Mountain Trail, an out-and-back four miles. The trail crests above treeline for a breathtaking view of Tumalo Bowl on blue-sky days. No dogs allowed.
Meissner and Swampy Lakes Sno-Park Trails
Just 20 minutes from Bend, these two sno-parks serve as bookends to a vast network of snowshoeing trails that run all the way from Mt. Bachelor. Meissner has groomed and ungroomed snowshoeing options. Follow the yellow trail markers for snowshoeing-only trails, or trek to the side of the tracks along Meissner’s 50 kilometers of groomed trails. Depending on snow levels, you can even follow the Wednesdays trail that will intersect mountain biking trails to explore. From Swampy Lakes, head to the cozy Swampy Lakes shelter and beyond on the Swede Ridge Trail. For a full day or even a winter camping adventure, you could brave the Flagline Trail that travels all the way past Tumalo Butte. No dogs are allowed on this side of the Cascade Lakes Highway.
Opposite Meissner Sno-Park on the Cascade Lakes Highway is Wanoga, a dog-friendly, extensive double sno-parking lot. The east lot which also has a snow play/sledding area. From the trailhead, you can venture out into meadows and forests on the Northstar and Comet snowshoeing loop trails for a fun day out with your pooch.
Vista Butte Sno-Park
Vista Butte is a smaller sno-park area that runs adjacent to the Cascade Lakes Highway right by the Sunriver cut-off. There are some great snowshoeing trails from here that gain the climb to Vista Butte, where you can enjoy sweeping views and tie into the Swampy Lakes/Dutchman Trail.
Top Snowshoe Spots Near Sisters and the Three Sisters
An approximate 15-20 minute drive out of Sisters are the Lower and Upper Three Creeks Sno-Parks, typically snowy lots best accessed with a 4WD vehicle. Bonus: No sno-park permits are required here! The trailhead leading to several trails and loops begins from the west side of the Upper Three Creeks parking lot. Shared with cross-country skiers, there are two loops, Warren’s and Nancy’s, that offer short and long loop options. For a longer day, take the Three Creeks Trail out and loop back along the Snow Creek trail which skirts Three Sisters Wilderness boundary and Three Creeks Lake.
Peak View Snowshoe Trail and Jefferson View Shelter
For a challenge, reap the sweet rewards of climbing from Nancy’s Loop to a stunning Mt. Jefferson view. Also called the Peak View Snowshoe trail, the Jefferson View Trail leads to a shelter that shares the same name. This is a welcome rustic spot to share lunch and warm your toes while taking in the peaceful wilderness scenery from the peak. Check weather forecasts before your trip, as this area can often be windy as you wind through sparser burn areas from past forest fires.
South Sister and Three Creek Meadow Trails
These two snowshoeing routes are reserved for experienced snowshoers, where you’ll likely encounter technical sections, as well as challenging winter conditions on some days. Always check the weather and be prepared for worst-case scenarios. Beyond the Three Creek trail system, the Three Creek Meadow Trail ventures into the Sisters Wilderness area, a more technical trail leading to Three Creek Lake with beautiful views. The South Sister Trail is an 11-mile out and back trail that usually begins at the Devil’s Lake Trailhead, and ends at the high-elevation Sisters Lake below the summit of South Sister.
Snowshoe Rentals in Central Oregon
If you don’t have your own snowshoes, they’re not hard to find on the way to any of these trails. All snowshoe rentals cost about the same, around $15-20 for half day or full day rentals, and are available at many ski shops and outdoor stores, from Sunriver to Sisters. If you’re going to be snowshoeing on a busy weekend or holiday, plan ahead and call to reserve a pair.
Snowshoe Rentals in Bend, Oregon
Mountain Supply, a locally-owned outdoor store. rents snowshoes along with its ski rentals. While you’re there, you can pick up extra layers and supplies for your snowshoeing trek.
Right on the way to Mt. Bachelor on Century Drive. Powder House Ski & Snowboard provides full-service rentals in a convenient location.
Snowshoe Rentals in Sunriver, Oregon
If you’re staying at Sunriver Resort, you have options to rent snowshoes before you head out to explore up towards Mt. Bachelor or Newberry Crater. Rent from either Sunriver Sports or Village Bike and Ski in The Village at Sunriver. While you’re there, grab a delicious bite at one of the many restaurants.
Snowshoe Tours Available in Central Oregon
If you want to leave the trail finding to the locals, the best show in town is Wanderlust Tours.
The penultimate in Central Oregon guided tours, this company offers professionally-curated snowshoe tours known for their spectacular scenery and magical memories. With a naturalist lens, Wanderlust guides guests to special spots around the Cascade mountains, including night treks under the stars on their Moonlight and Starlight Tours. Groups of 10 or more can customize their own snowshoe adventure.
Whether you are just giving snowshoeing a try for the first time, or adding to your bucket list of the best snowshoeing trails, Central Oregon will not disappoint!
Explore Nature’s Beauty
From the sagebrush-covered plains of the high desert to the towering pines and majestic mountain peaks, discover the diverse landscape Central Oregon has to offer.