Let me start by saying that my love for central Oregon knows no bounds. Between Mt. Bachelor, Smith Rock, Mt Hood, the Three Sisters, Mt Jefferson, the Deschutes River and so much more, the possibilities for year-round adventure are endless and all within a one hour drive of each other. Last weekend I spent four glorious days exploring central Oregon, based out of Bend. With so many great options in the area, we set out without any set plans for where to hike.
After previously living in Portland for a few years and then recently moving back to Washington, every time I visit Oregon to explore, I am reminded of what a blessing the Washington Trail Association website is. I’ve always found it very difficult to find good online information on less frequented trails in Oregon, which is actually part of the reason I decided to start this blog. In the absence of information on trails off the beaten path and winter road accessibility, we asked some locals for recommendations. We were recommended Spirit Lake on Mt Bachelor so we headed up Century Drive from town. After some GPS mishaps and wrong turns, we discovered that the road was snowed in and closed for the winter. We noticed signs for several sno-parks on the way up so we decided to embark on a true adventure by exploring a trail we hadn’t planned on. We pulled into the next sno-park that we found and picked a snowshoeing trail off the map in the parking lot – Todd Lake, 6 mi round trip.
The trail started from the Dutchman Flat Sno-Park, across the freeway from the Mt. Bachelor ski area. A sno-park pass is required to park at the trailhead. The parking lot has a good map, as well as paper maps you can take with you and a pit toilet. The trail winds through a nice combination of forested areas and clearings that frame Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters mountains. The rolling hills were mild and the trail did not feel crowded. Although it was difficult to find digital information on the trails, the signage and organization of the trails themselves was phenomenal. Snowshoers, skiers and snowmobilers share the park, however, separate trails have been created so everyone can enjoy the area safely. The snowmobile areas were separated enough that we were able to enjoy the quiet and skiers had their own separate trails so snowshoers wouldn’t step on their carved out tracks. Wayfinding can often be difficult when trails are covered in snow but this park was extremely well signed. Overall, the setup was impressively thoughtful in its layout.
We got a late start so by the time we reached the lake, we had it all to ourselves. Although the lake itself was not visible due to snow, the view of Broken Top behind it was idyllic. We enjoyed a thermos of chili and some warm vanilla chai before making the trek back out.