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'll include some "Snowshoeing 101" for those new to the activity as well as some tips on locations around Mount Hood that would be applicable to all ability levels.
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 about what the weather is that day and surface conditions.
For the Mount Hood region, check the NOAA forecast for Government Camp. If the freezing level is 4,000 ft or lower it will likely be snowing at most of the snowparks. If the freezing level is above 5,500 ft, most snowparks will have rain. 4-5,500 ft is going to risk a rain/snow mix. Frog Lake snowpark is slightly further east and might have a slightly better chance for snow than the others if it's on the edge.
For central Oregon and the snowparks nearish to Mount Bachelor you can check the forecast for Wanoga Butte (Bachelor is higher elevation than most of the nearby snowparks). Note that Virginia Meissner snowpark 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 snowpark requires a parking reservation.
Another good way to check snow conditions at snowparks 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 snowparks).