Tag Archives: Snowshoe

Oregon’s 7 Wonders

Travel Oregon came up with Oregon’s 7 Wonders and we’ve slowly been checking them out over the past few years. They’re spread out all over Oregon which is great because it really gives you a chance to see a lot of the state.

This August we finally checked off the last wonder and here’s what we thought of them…

The Columbia River Gorge:

We’ve visited this wonder so many times we’ve lost count, starting when we were both kids, and have very fond memories of this area. It’s a little bitter sweet due to the recent wildfire that ravaged the area but this area is so large that there is still places to visit, and we can’t wait until the trails reopen and we get to see this beautiful place again. We know it will take a lot of time, but the Gorge will come back stronger than ever.

Waterfalls, views, and wildflowers…a Gorge trail will take you somewhere amazing!

      

      

Some of our favorite Gorge hikes are Fairy Falls, Larch Mountain, and Wahclella Falls. If you’re Looking for a good lunch spot check out The Ranch for a good burger in Hood River.

The Oregon Coast:

This is another wonder that we’ve visited countless times. Some of our favorite cities are Newport, Pacific City, and Lincoln City. Oregonians know that the coast really is an all season place. A perfect summer day is amazing but a nice winter storm is fun too! Tide pools and lighthouses are some of our favorite things to check out at the coast along with all the great hiking.

      

      

Some great hikes in the area University Falls, Cape Falcon, and Drift Creek Falls. If you’re looking for some good food check out Pacific Oyster in Bay City.

Smith Rock:

We’ve been to Smith Rock three times and it’s amazing. The hikes are great and you can’t really go wrong with any trail you pick. Our personal favorite is Misery Ridge, it may be a bit difficult but it’s well worth the extra energy spent. With the Snake River Gorge winding through the large tuff and basalt rock formations it’s easy to see why this area made the list.

      

      

Make sure to stop by Juniper Junction (Rockhard) for some tasty huckleberry ice cream.

The Painted Hills:

Probably the most unique place on the list with all of the bright colored hills. There’s so much to see here you’ll need to plan for most of the day to really explore this place. There are trails that take you up hills to allow you views of the whole area. Off to one side you’ll see large hills with yellow, red and purple paintbrush type strokes on them, and then if you look another direction you’ll see smaller hills that are deep red or bright yellow-gold. Make sure to check out the trails that go around the smaller hills, it’s really amazing to see the texture and colors up close.

      

      

For more info on the trails click here.

Crater Lake:

Crater Lake is a Caldera Lake that’s very large and very blue. You can drive around the whole crater rim and there are many trails around the caldera. After spending time at some of the many viewpoints and getting a good look at the lake and wizard island make sure to make some time to explore the trails. A few of our favorites are Plaikni Falls and The Pinnacles.

      

      

While you’re in the area make sure to check out Toketee Falls.

The Wallowas:

Way out in eastern Oregon are the Wallowa Mountains, near the town of Joseph. They call it the Swiss Alps of Oregon and we can definitely see why. The best and easiest way to see the Wallowa Mountains are to take the tramway up to the top of Mt. Howard. Wallowa Lake is also a big attraction in this area, the lake is huge and it offers great views of the mountains as well. There are a ton of beautiful barns in the area, stop at the visitor center in Joseph for a map of where you can find them all.

      

      

We recommend the famous mountain berry shake at the Eagle Cap Chalet and a burger from the Glacier Grill.

Mt. Hood:

Of course the Mt. Hood area would make this list- it’s amazing! The mountain itself is beautiful as are the lakes and waterfalls that surround it. This area can’t be beat when it comes to winter activities too- ski, snowboard, snowshoe…you can seriously do it all.

      

      

Some of our favorite hikes in this area Bald Mountain, Umbrella Falls, Zigzag Canyon, and snowshoeing at White River West.

 

Oregon’s 7 Wonders are truly amazing and they really show off how great this state is, we’ll be back to visit them all again and again!

How many of the wonders have you seen? We’d love to hear what your favorite wonder is!

Frog Lake (Snowshoe)

Directions: Drive Highway 26 east past Government Camp, keep left at the junction with Hwy 35, staying on 26. Follow Hwy 26 for about another 5 miles where the Frog Lake Sno-Park will be on your left.

It’s amazing that we are still snowshoeing in mid-March, with lots of snow too! This winter has been great!

From the parking area get on the trail, which is actually the road when there is no snow. It’s very wide and evenly graded, lined with tall snow covered trees. This area is very popular with snowmobilers, so you will be hearing and seeing them often. We just tried to stay to the side of the trail since they come up on you fast, easier then trying to quickly get out of the way so you don’t get hit. This trail is also used by x-country skiers.

      

      

You will soon come to a junction to your right, this takes you to the lake. It starts out downhill briefly then evens out the rest of the way. You will start to see the lake off to your left through the trees, keep following this trail until it splits. Go left and downhill until you reach the lake and what is normally the parking lot during the summer months. If the lake isn’t frozen over yet we hear that there is a trail around the lake, there was so much snow that we couldn’t see any trail at all. But, the lake was completely frozen with a large snowpack on top of the ice so we went out onto the lake and looped around that way. This is another area you really want to watch out for the snowmobilers, they were crisscrossing all over the lake at a very high rate of speed. It’s also good to make sure you are certain that the lake is frozen over before going out onto it.

      

On a clear day you will have a great view of the mountain at the lake. It had gotten really cloudy and started snowing by the time we got to the lake which was a bummer! After you finish the loop head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 2.5 miles

Elevation: 200 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Yes a snow-park pass is required

Seasons: Anytime there is snow 🙂

Popular: Very

Overall: This is a very pretty area but the snowmobiles do take away from how great this place is. They are very loud and smell like exhaust pretty bad. Might be best to try this place early on a weekday.

Swampy Lakes Sno-Park (Snowshoe)

Directions: Take the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway to the signed Sno-Park, it will be on the right.

The Swampy Lakes area has multiple snowshoe and x-country skiing trails. We were snowshoeing so we’ll be talking about the snowshoe trails. For a map of the whole area with all of the trails click here.

Trail options: A short loop (1.75 miles) and long loop (3.25 miles). Tie trail that takes you to a nearby Sno-Park.  Lastly, the porcupine trail that takes you past the lakes and to a shelter with a wood stove, this can be done as a 4.6 mile loop or an out and back that is 4 miles.

The weather we encountered was less than ideal, strong winds and steady snow made for low visibility. We decided to explore a small section of the porcupine trail and the short loop.

      

All of the trails are very well marked with blue diamonds that have a yellow snowshoer inside. The trails all go through a very pretty lodgepole pine forest that switches from heavily treed to sparse. The loops seem to have little elevation and the porcupine trail rollercoasters the whole way. This is a great place to spend time just exploring around.

      

There are designated trails for what activity you are doing, please make sure you are paying attention to the diamonds and not getting on a x-country trail with your snowshoes.

      

We can’t wait to come back on a day where the weather allows us more time to see more of the area.

 

Distance: Depends on which trail you choose

Elevation: Depends- some loops are flat, some take you up buttes with quite a bit of elevation.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed on any of the trails in the Sampy Lakes area.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: Sno-Park Pass

Seasons: Snowy months for snowshoeing and x-country skiing

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great area, looking forward to going back and seeing the snow shelter.

Tumalo Falls (Winter)

Directions: From the city of Bend go west on Skyliners Road and follow it to Bearwallow Road where you will take a right. Less than a mile later take a left onto NF-4601 and follow this road for about 3 miles. Turn left and follow the road for about a mile and a half.

In the winter there is a small parking area at the snow gate that is just past a one lane bridge. With all the heavy snow the area got the parking lot had very deep snow. During the snowy months we would not recommend parking in the small lot if your car is not all wheel drive AND high clearance. We saw a few cars that were stuck and one that even had to be towed out of the area. Park along the road that forks left, right before the bridge.

From the snow gate get on the wide trail that in the peak seasons is the access road that takes you up to the waterfall. This is a heavily used trail so the snow was pretty packed down. We saw people snowshoeing, skiing, and just in boots. We started out snowshoeing and then decided to carry them since the snow was pretty hard.

      

      

You start out following pretty close next to Tumalo Creek. The trail rollercoasters for almost the whole 2.5 mile trip out to the waterfall and there are snowy ridges all around you. The trail mostly looks the same the whole way out but it’s quite pretty. At about the 2.25 mile mark you cross over a bridge and wind up a short hill where there are bathrooms and a viewing platform. There was so much snow that it was all the way up to the top of the railing around the viewing platform. You can take a steep but short side trail to get to a top viewing area but we were running out of daylight and didn’t have time. We will for sure head to the top on our next trip out here.

From here head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 5 miles

Elevation: 500 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno-Park Pass or a NW Forest Pass (depending on the season)

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great winter hike or snowshoe. We’re excited to go back and see what it looks like without snow 🙂

White River West (Snowshoe)

Directions: Take Highway 26 past Government Camp and get onto Highway 35. Follow 35 for about 4 mile or so until you reach the White River West Sno-Park on your left.

We would recommend not parking along the edge of the parking area near the trail going up the snowbank. Many people were choosing to sled down the hill here and were not very careful around the cars at all.

From the parking lot there is a well worn path that leads up the snowbank and onto the main path. The first half mile of this snowshoe is on a very hard packed snow path, this is from all the people who sled in this area. We got up here pretty early and there was already about 10 cars in the parking area and they were all sledding. Once you get past this area it gets a lot better, it turns into snowshoe and cross-country ski trails. You follow along the river the whole time. it’s mostly snow covered but you will see parts of it at all times. You also get an amazing view of Mt. Hood right in front of you the whole way.

      

Basically you follow along the river out in the open with trees lining your path. After about a mile you will go under some power lines and head uphill into the trees. It’s not heavily wooded so you will still see the mountain peeking through. Once we got almost to the top of this hill we decided to go down the side of it to get back down to river level. We followed the river a bit longer and decided to call it a day. We went a little over a mile and a half in making for a nice 3+ mile snowshoe. You can definitely go farther and I know we will be back soon to explore this area more.

      

      

On your way back to the parking area we would recommend that you stay down near the river once you get back to where all the sledders are. They come flying down the hills and don’t pay much attention to who’s around. Plus it’s much easier to walk in the nice snow instead of the hard packed stuff from the sleds.

Distance: 3 miles (you can go farther if you want)

Elevation: 500 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: A Sno-Park pass is required.

Seasons: Anytime there is enough snow.

Popular: Very

Overall: The areas with all the sledding are a bit frustrating but it’s worth it once you get past all the crowds. The views of the mountain are amazing.

Little Zigzag Falls (Snowshoe)

Directions: Head east on Highway 26 until you reach Kiwanis Camp Road/Road 39 (about 6 miles past the town of Zigzag). Head north on this road until you reach the Kiwanis Camp (where they stop plowing the road). Park along the side of the road.

They usually only plow Road 39 to the Kiwanis Camp, it does occasionally get plowed to the Little Zigzag Falls Trailhead but I wouldn’t count on it. So the start of the hike depends on what type of plowing you encounter that day.

      

      

From your car start snowshoeing up the road until you come to the Little Zigzag Falls Trailhead. From here you can get on the main trail, it follows along the creek. Soon you will come to an area with large icicles hanging from it. It’s easily passable just watch your head. The creek has a lot of downed trees over it, when they are covered in snow and ice it looks quite pretty.

      

Continuing on you will cross a bridge and come to an open area which leads you right up to Little Zigzag Falls. The waterfall looked amazing with all the snow and ice!

      

Head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 1.5 miles from the Kiwanis Camp, .6 if you started at the trailhead.

Elevation: 40 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: When there is enough snow for snowshoeing.

Popular: No

Overall: Very lovely snowshoe, we highly recommend it!

Enid Lake (Snowshoe)

Directions: Take Highway 26 to Government Camp Loop Road. Drive up the road a little over a quarter mile until you see the Thunderhead Trailhead on your left.

From the trailhead you start on Skiway Trail and soon fork left onto Maggie’s Trail. Stay on Maggie’s Trail and pass Lucy’s Trail. Next you will come to the Crosstown Trail, go left staying on the Crosstown Trail. Most of this area you will be heading downhill through lovely snow covered trees. We noticed a lot of rabbit tracks through here which was great.

      

Continuing on you will cross a small bridge and come to a sign that says Enid Lake. It’s pointing right, do NOT go right, go left and follow this trail a short distance where there will be a side trail off to your right. This short trail takes you right out to snow covered Enid Lake, on a clear day you’ll be able to see Mt. Hood peeking out behind the trees.

      

You can follow a trail around the small lake and head back out the way you came in.

      

This whole area has a fair amount of cross-country skiers and they can come flying around corners pretty quickly. Just be aware of that while you’re out on the trails.

Distance: 2.5 miles

Elevation: 200 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: $6 snow-park permit

Seasons: Late fall through winter

Popular: Yes

Overall: This is a very pretty snowshoe. There are a lot of intersecting trails which can be confusing if you don’t have a map.

Trillium Lake (Snowshoe)

Directions: Drive Highway 26 past Government Camp, a few miles later you will see signs for Trillium Lake. Take the marked exit where you will see the large Sno-Park.

From the parking area head past the snow gate and start heading downhill. You will be snowshoeing for 2 miles down the access road that takes you to Trillium Lake. This part of the snowshoe is pretty much a roller coaster, you will lose and gain elevation a few times. The path is pretty well worn with snowshoe and cross country skiing tracks. It’s mainly just a nice snowy treelined path that takes you to the lake. You will see signs along the way keep following them down the road and past the campground entrance. Take the next right after the campground which will take you down to the lake.

      

It’s two miles from the parking area to the lake so if that’s enough (four miles round trip) you can hangout at the lake and head back the way you came. If you want to go farther head around the lake clockwise and go back out the way you came in, for a total of 6 miles.

It was pretty cloudy and sleeting most of the time we were here so we didn’t get the nice view of the mountain. It was still a great snowshoe though. This place starts getting pretty busy around 11am, getting here early would probably be best. The last hill on the way out is a big one as well, lots of people were struggling. Keep that in mind when you decide between the 4 and 6 mile options.

Distance: 4 or 6 miles

Elevation: We don’t know the exact elevation. There are definitely a few decent hills on the road heading in. Not much elevation at all going around the lake.

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most ages- may not be best for young kids or older folks.

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Sno-Park permit

Seasons: Anytime there is enough snow 🙂

Popular: Very

Overall: Great snowshoe area, even better if you hit a day without clouds!