Oregon Wild's Wilderness Campaign Coordinator Erik Fernandez shares tips and suggestions regarding everything from safety to gear to picking the most scenic trails. We include some "Snowshoeing 101" for those new to the activity as well as some tips on locations around Central Oregon that would be applicable to all ability levels.
Thanks to Central Oregon Nordic Club for all of their work to create and maintain winter trails in Central Oregon. You can find a great list of trips with corresponding maps here.
Snow conditions for any given trail in the Oregon Cascade Mountains can vary significantly from one day to the next. This makes knowing the conditions difficult. Here are a few tips on checking the snow conditions:
Most years there is enough snow at most snowparks by mid-December, so you shouldn't have to worry about there being enough, just what the weather is that day and surface conditions.
For Central Oregon and the snoparks nearish to Mount Bachelor you can check the forecast for Wanoga Butte (Bachelor is higher elevation than most of the nearby snoparks). Note that Virginia Meissner snopark is the lowest elevation, so if the forecast is right near freezing avoid that and head up higher toward Bachelor and go to Swampy, Edison, or Bachelor. If the freezing level is above 6,000 ft (rare in winter) then it will be raining everywhere in central Oregon. Note: for the 2021 season Mount Bachelor snopark requires a parking reservation.
Another good way to check snow conditions at snoparks is to look at the nearest webcams on TripCheck (particularly helpful around Mount Hood).
Facebook groups can be helpful, such as various Nordic Club pages (they are more geared toward crosscountry skiing than snowshoeing but often times the trails are in close proximity and share snoparks), downhill ski area sites are also good at posting conditions.
And if you find yourself venturing out beyond snowparks into the backcountry, remember to always check your local avalanche forecast. In Central Oregon, that's COAC - the Central Oregon Avalanche Center.