Written by | Derek Carlson

Our 7 Favorite Snowshoe Trails in Bend

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Welcome to the winter wonderland of Bend, Oregon, where snow-capped landscapes and towering evergreens set the stage for unforgettable snowshoeing adventures. In this post, we’ll guide you through the best snowshoe trails in Bend. These breathtaking vistas make snowshoeing in Bend a must-try experience!

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time snowshoe (it’s super easy, trust us!), join us as we explore the serene beauty and unique thrills that come with navigating the snowy terrain of Central Oregon. Let’s strap on those snowshoes and discover the magic of Bend in the winter.

The Best Snowshoe Trails in Bend

Here are our 7 favorite Central Oregon snowshoe trails to hit up this winter!

Tumalo Falls

  • Length: 5 Miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation: 450 ft
  • Fees: None
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes
  • Trail Map: USFS Map

Tumalo Falls is a must-visit year-round but making the trek during the winter transforms this already stunning falls into an icy wonderland.

There are a couple of different routes to take to snowshoe to Tumalo Falls. The easiest and most direct is to park at the gate just past Skyliner Sno-park and snowshoe the road up to the falls. This well-traveled road usually means easy walking unless you’re one of the first ones headed up after a big snowfall.

You can also park at Skyliner Sno-Park (No sno park pass required!) and walk along the trail that follows the south side of Tumalo Creek. This route adds about a mile to the trip.

If you choose this route then please use proper winter trail etiquette by not walking on established ski tracks.

Tumalo Mountain

  • Length: 2.6 Miles (4.9 Miles from the Nordic Center)
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Elevation: 1,450 ft
  • Fees: Sno-Park Pass Required at Dutchman
  • Dog-Friendly: No
  • Trail Map: USFS Map

Tumalo Mountain is the place to go if you’re looking for a short, leg burner of a climb with unparalleled views of the Central Oregon Cascades as a payoff.

Located just across the highway from Mt. Bachelor, Tumalo Mountain is an extremely popular spot in the winter for snowshoers and backcountry skiers alike during the winter months. Combine that with the popularity of Dutchman Sno-park amongst snowmobilers and you’ll find that grabbing a parking spot on a weekend day may be near impossible.

Tumalo Mountain Snowshoe

Luckily, you can also grab a spot at the West Village parking lot at Mt. Bachelor and grab a common corridor pass from the Nordic Center. This allows you to ski or snowshoe the common corridor trail to the base of Tumalo Mountain without having to fight the crowds at the Dutchman Lot. This route adds about a mile each way but, as a bonus, you can finish off the hike with a cup of hot cocoa at the Nordic Center!

The hike up Tumalo Mountain is probably not for the first time snowshoer as it is a continual climb from the second you leave the parking lot. Unless you’re going up after a big snow, you’ll probably find that there will be a main winter trail with a lot of offshoot trails cut into the snow from folks skinning up and skiing back down through the trees.

The winter trail takes a much more direct approach straight up the mountain vs the summer trail that follows the contours of the mountain a bit more. This makes for a short but steep hike up and back down!

Tip: Buying or renting snowshoes that have a heel lift bar will save your calves during the snowshoe up as this trail is relentlessly steep!

Once you arrive at the top you will be able to enjoy a 360-degree view of the Oregon Cascades.

Don’t get too close to the edge on the eastern side of the mountain though as large cornices can form and collapse without warning. This bowl sees a large number of avalanches every year so don’t underestimate the danger here!

Todd Lake Snowshoe Loop

  • Length: 5.5 Miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 200 ft
  • Fees: Sno-Park Pass Required at Dutchman
  • Dog-Friendly: No
  • Trail Map: USFS Map

The Todd Lake snowshoe trail is one of our favorite winter hikes and is an annual tradition to do as a family. Like Tumalo Mountain, the trip to Todd Lake can also be started from either the Dutchman Flats Sno-Park or from the Nordic Center at Mt. Bachelor. We prefer to start from the Nordic Center for this hike as the distances are similar from either point and it’s much easier to find parking here versus Dutchman (the hot cocoa at the end is a nice touch too!)

Todd Lake Snowshoe

From the Nordic Center follow the common corridor trail down to where it intersects with the closed Cascade Lakes Highway.

Keep an eye out for snowmobiles when crossing the road as they can travel at high speeds along this stretch.

After crossing the road take a left and keep an eye out for the signs for the Dutchman Snowshoe Loop trail. This trail sees a lot of traffic so there should be a very well-worn path through the snow. You’ll see a ton of user-created trails branching off the main trail and these can be fun to explore through the woods. For this trip though we’ll be following the snowshoe signs nailed onto the trees every so often.

Tip: The snowshoe trails from Dutchman Flats and Mt. Bachelor are the highest-elevation trails along the Cascade Lakes Highway. This means they make for great snowshoeing even when the weather is warmer or rainy in Bend!

When you arrive at Todd Lake you can take the optional 1.5 mile loop around the lake itself. There are some great views of Mt. Bachelor from the west side of the lake and the meadows at the far end of the lake are a fun place to take a break and play in the snow.

On the way back you can stay on the same trail or finish the loop that takes you through the big meadow area. We prefer this route as it cuts down on the snowmachine noise along the highway route.

Note that no dogs are allowed on any trails on the north side of the Cascade Lakes highway during the winter months.

Swampy Lake Shelter

  • Length: 4.1 Miles
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate depending on snow conditions
  • Elevation: 525 ft
  • Fees: Sno-Park Pass Required
  • Dog-Friendly: No
  • Trail Map: USFS Map

Located only 30 minutes from downtown Bend, the Swampy Lakes snowshoe trails are one of our favorite spots for a quick winter hike.

The best part of the Swampy Lakes snowshoe loop is at the halfway point you’ll find yourself at the Swampy Lakes Shelter, which is undoubtedly one of the best warming huts in the area. The shelter was built in 2020 and features a large sliding wooden door to keep the warmth from the large wood stove inside.

Swampy Lakes Snowshoe

Compare this to other nearby shelters with their open sides and you’ll quickly appreciate how quickly this shelter will warm up on even the coldest days.

To reach the shelter you’ll want to follow the Porcupine snowshoe loop from the Swampy Lakes Sno-Park. This trail passes through stands of large Oregon conifers which create a stunning backdrop on those snowy winter days. There are some up-and-downs throughout the trail but nothing too big so this trail is great for novice snowshoers.

To reach the shelter there is a cutoff trail near the end of the loop. If you do the whole loop you’ll go around the shelter and won’t ever see it!

This snowshoe trail crosses several different cross-country ski trails. Please try to avoid walking on ski tracks and, if you find yourself following a ski trail, walk at least two feet to either side of the tracks.

Meissner Snowshoe Loop

  • Length: 3 Miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation: 300 ft
  • Fees: Sno-Park Pass Required
  • Dog-Friendly: No
  • Trail Map: USFS Map

The Virginia Meissner Sno-Park is easily the most popular Sno-Park near Bend. Its lower elevation and proximity to Bend make it easy for out-of-towners to visit and try out their hand at snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Because of this parking on popular winter weekends can sometimes be a challenge, especially if you plan on arriving around the mid-morning hours.

The Meissner Snowshoe Loop trail to the shelter is typically very well-worn and often walkable even without snowshoes. Although I wouldn’t count on being able to walk in shoes or boots as post-holing down a trail is no fun for yourself or other trail users!

Meissner Warming Shelter

This is also a great snowshoe with kids as the hike is only 1.5 miles each way and culminates at the popular Meissner warming shelter. On weekends this shelter almost always has a fire going in the wood stove with a crowd gathered around to warm up before heading out on the rest of their ski or snowshoeing adventures.

Later in the winter, a gigantic snow dragon is constructed next to the shelter complete with slides built into the sides. This is a huge hit with the kids and a must-visit for us every year.

All of the trails originating from the Meissner Sno-Park are maintained and groomed by the Meissner Nordic Club. If you enjoy these trails please consider donating as they operate off of donations only. The fact that we have such an incredible network of groomed cross-country trails that are completely free and open to the public is what makes Bend an amazing place to visit and live.

Edison Sno Park Loop

  • Length: 5.5 Miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 600 ft
  • Fees: Sno-Park Pass Required
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes
  • Trail Map: USFS Map

The Tesla Snowshoe Loop at Edison Sno-Park tends to see a lot less traffic than its neighboring trails at Swampy and Meissner. This longer snowshoe trail meanders through lava rock formations that make for a lot of short but occasionally steep ups and downs.

The plus side to this terrain is that it often makes it feel like you are alone in the forest, aside from the noise from the occasional snowmobile rumbling by on the nearby trails.

There used to be a warming shelter along this route but the shelter has recently been shut down due to its deteriorating conditions. Hopefully in the years to come the shelter will get rebuilt and can once again welcome in visitors.

While it may be tempting to walk along the snowmobile trails I would recommend against it. With frequent blind corners and many snowmobilers traveling at high speeds, this can make for dangerous encounters.

Deschutes River Trail

  • Length: 2 – 10 Miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation: Varies
  • Fees: Sno-Park Pass Required
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes

During the deepest parts of winter when Bend is covered in a blanket of snow the Deschutes River Trail can make for some amazing snowshoe adventures. The Big Meadow Day Use area makes for a great starting point where you can snowshoe as much or as little as you’d like along the river.

I’d recommend sticking to the trails marked for bikes as these tend to be a little easier in slippery winter conditions.

Tips for a Successful Snowshoeing Trip in Bend

Here are some tips for making a successful snowshoeing trip.

Wear the Right Clothes

When traveling during the winter you’ll want to pay close attention to the forecast and dress appropriately for the conditions. This means gloves, a hat, a neck gaiter, base layers, and a wind and waterproof shell. We’ve been on enough adventures that started mild only to return into a stiff wind and snow to know that things can turn bad in a hurry! Handwarmers are a great addition to your backpack as well!

For footwear, we’ll usually go with a lighter-weight, waterproof hiking shoe on days where the trail has been packed down or waterproof snow boots on days where we’ll be tracking through powder.

Use up the Right Pair of Snowshoes

Wearing the right pair of snowshoes can make a break a trip. You may not know it but there are a variety of styles of snowshoes that will set you up for success in any conditions.

We keep two sets in our garage, one being shorter shoes for days when the snowpack has been packed down and we just want to avoid post-holing and to add some traction. The others are longer for those powder day adventures when we’ll be breaking trail in deep snow conditions.

If you’re in Bend on vacation or live here and want to give snowshoeing a shot then there are plenty of places in town to rent a set of snowshoes. Some of our favorites are REI, Powderhouse, and Pine Mountain Sports.

Make Sure You Have A Sno-Park Pass

A sno-park pass is required at almost all sno-parks throughout Washington and Oregon. They are only $25 for an annual pass and help fund the plowing of the snowparks throughout the winter. Most outdoor stores in town sell both the annual and day versions of the pass.

Bring a Map

It’s always a good idea to have a map on hand when venturing out onto new trails. I love the Avenza app on my phone! You can load the USFS maps directly onto the app and they will show you exactly where you are at all times on the trails.

Thanks for reading! Take a look at our latest posts here and follow us on Instagram (@RoamtheNorthwest) to follow along with our next adventures!

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