Here’s a roundup of top spots for Nordic skiing as well as snowshoeing, sledding, tubing and good, old-fashioned snowball fights. Before you go, check road and weather conditions, find permit and parking information at each agency’s website, and be prepared for the weather with your Ten Essentials, which are vital in the cold weather. Make sure to wear your face covering and maintain 6 feet of distance as much as possible both in rental areas and outdoors. Finally, know that winter driving conditions can change rapidly in the mountains, so tire chains are recommended.
Twenty miles southwest of downtown Ashland, the region’s largest ski and snowboard resort is best known for its downhill skiing and snowboarding. But did you know it’s a top spot for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, too? One of those spots is the Grouse Gap Sno-Park, accessible via the far end of the Mt. Ashland Ski Area parking lot, with two Blue Diamond trails and a warming shelter. It’s important to respect other users and keep snowshoes off of ski tracks. Bring a hot drink, print out a trail map and pack out what you pack in.
This out-of-the-way destination is worth the trip if you’re looking for a variety of powdery trails and views of the Rogue Valley, Siskiyou Mountains, Mt. McLaughlin, Mt. Shasta and the Hyatt Reservoir on a bluebird day. Among the dozen or so trails, several are rated easy, while others are moderate or difficult and three are designated especially for dog-friendly play.
Just south of Buck Prairie and east of Ashland, Hyatt Lake is a popular spot for boating, swimming and camping in the summer, but during winter it transforms into a sweet destination for sledding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Part of the network includes the Table Mountain Winter Play Area, with its tubing area and warming shelter with a wood stove.
Whether or not you stay in one of the cozy cabins here, you can plan on getting your fill of pristine terrain for snowmobiling (most popular here), snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or tubing. You can rent equipment and book time slots in advance for all four activities. A family favorite is the tubing hill, with a 470-foot “Wonder Carpet” conveyor for uphill rides and multiple downhill lanes for a limited number of guests. Due to COVID-19 requirements, daily tubing tickets must be purchased in advance; no tickets will be sold onsite.
This impressive wilderness area in Klamath County surrounds a cluster of four overlapping shield volcanoes and includes more than 20 small lakes that lie along the bottoms of several large cirques carved by Ice Age glaciers near the summits of the volcanoes. Three of the most popular trails for Nordic skiing are the Clover Creek Trail (4 miles) from the south of the caldera, the Mountain Lakes Trail (6.5 miles) from the west, and the Varney Creek Trail (4.5 miles) from the north.
Just over 30 minutes south of La Pine and an hour northeast of Crater Lake National Park, this sno-park offers multiple trails for Nordic skiing as well as snowmobiling, connecting to a larger network of trails. At 4,800 feet of elevation, it sits on the eastern edge of the Cascade Range, with an abundance of cold, powdery snow and sunny days. There are both groomed and ungroomed trails with hilltops for both beginners and those with more experience. Come for the powder; stay for the views of Mt. Thielsen and surrounding peaks.
Table Mountain Sled Area. Courtesy BLM.
Just north of Walt Haring, you can make a wintry escape to one of two lakes renown for their powdery trails. Odell Lake Lodge & Resort lets you ski directly from your door to several groomed cross-country trails and offers rentals as well. Nearby Crescent Lake Resort is beloved for its rolling terrain and a nearly 15-mile loop trail for cross-country skiing around the lake. The resort’s furnished cabins are a great place to relax after a day in the snow.