Winter in Bend, Oregon has been a mystery in recent years. It used to be consistently mild and if you wanted to get your snow fix in, then you would head up to Mt. Bachelor or one of the many sno parks along Cascade Lakes Highway. Just a 30 minute drive from downtown. If it was actually cloudy in downtown, you could head up there and have a perfect sunny day with some of the best skiing in the state.
Bend is a winter destination, whether it be to ski downhill, backcountry, or cross country, snowshoe or even fat tire biking. All three can turn into modes of transportation to work or morning coffee if the snow is heavy enough in town. That is one of the things I absolutely love about this town. You can’t drive? You are snowed in and the roads are not plowed? Pull out the skis or snowshoes and that will get you where you need to go!
We decided that this winter we wanted to see if snowshoeing was a something we could get into. Snowshoeing from Mt. Bachelor to Todd Lake is a popular way to start. While, it is considered easy, it can be challenging as well. I highly suggest this if you are in town, as you get great views of Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top and South Sisters, while getting a workout.
Snowshoeing from Mt. Bachelor to Todd Lake
Miles: 5-8 R/T ♦ Elevation Gain: ~450′ ♦ Trail Type: Lollipop Loop ♦ Trail: Easy/Moderate
Everything for snowshoeing and cross country skiing on their tracks starts at the Nordic Center. Rentals, permits, snacks and WARM bathrooms! The first thing you need to do is go in and get your free permit. It is the first window as you walk in and you can also grab maps of the area.
After you are all strapped in and ready to go, you can see the starting area just to the right. People with passes go through metal gates and people with daily passes go through an opening. There are always employees around to assist and they will remind you to stay off the beautiful tracks. Stay to the left as you head down the hill. You can’t miss the snowshoe trail.
After about a quarter of a mile you will have a couple options. 1. Go to the left and snowshoe along the road, or 2. Go straight and rough it. There isn’t always a trail and it can be very deep. The second choice is only about a quarter of a mile until you reach the road, which is Cascade Lakes Highway.
Take option 2 for some unexpected extra fun! We were lucky enough to have a path already made, but it was deep!
Follow the blue signs and you will be fine getting yo the road.
Once you reach the road, you can continue on the snowshoe tracks or on the highway. Warning, snowmobilers use this road so be careful and mindful of them and other skiers.
As you make your way down hill and through the forest, you will come to a meadow and a huge rock face. Take a right here, either at the meadow or the stop sign (which depending on the winter could be covered with snow. Our feet were at the same height as the actual sign! We ran across skiers going to climb.
As you head up the road, again watch out for snowmobiles. After about another quarter mile or so is your left. Only marked by tracks and a small opening when the drifts are high.
Or you will naturally stop when you see the opening in the trees of the best view of Bachelor.
It is a short distance to the lake. You might run into some skiers here as some awesome backcountry downhill is here. With a ton of snow, you won’t see the lake, so be careful where you go. Some wonder into the lake, but after a huge snow fall be careful. The creek running through can pose problems as well so stay a safe distance from that.
What a magnificent site! We hung out in this spot for awhile. Just resting, laughing and feeling grateful.
We made it to the opposite end of the lake, but then the trail stopped, the snow got REALLY deep and with it being really soft, we would sink, so we turned around. It was still worth it. Long, slightly tough, but so fun!
Last note: it is uphill on the way back! Save some energy.
Snowshoeing from Mt. Bachelor to Todd Lake Information
Rentals: We rented from Pine Mountain Sports. Their gear is the same that you can probably get anywhere but their customer service is amazing! We won’t go back to other places because they seem to get you in and out and don’t care about what you are renting or going out to do. We highly recommend them.
You can also rent at the Nordic Lodge. If you plan on using their groomed trails, the cost of the permit is included with the rental.
If you are on a budget, this is definitely a great thing to do. If you own snowshoes, then it’s pretty much free, if you have to rent snowshoes, it’s only $15 for the day + $5 if you have to take the shuttle. So this would be a great budget friendly, family friendly, outdoor friendly thing to do in the Winter in Bend, Oregon!
Dog Friendly: No, during the winter dogs are banned in a lot of areas due to deep snow. It is unsafe for them.
Family Friendly: Yes
Parking: There are two options. You can drive to Mt. Bachelor and park here: 44.004514,-121.679504
Or you can take the shuttle that goes from the Old Mill area. Check out the website for times and the cost: Mt. Bachelor Shuttle
Parking Fee: Free at Mt. Bachelor, Free at shuttle area, but fee for shuttle.
Permit: If you use their trails for skiing, there is a cost. Find out more here: Nordic Trail Fees
If you are planning to go to Todd Lake, the permit is free.
Best Time: December-February, depending on Snow Fall
Forest: Deschutes National Forest
Access: You can take Cascade Lakes Highway to Mt. Bachelor and then it is closed down during November-April.
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