Oregon Winter Day Trip

Oregon may not be as well known for winter sports as other states but don’t let that fool you. January is a great time for an Oregon winter day-trip!

Cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing are all great choices at Walt Haring sno-park! Here is everything you need to know!

Where is Walt-Haring sno-park?

You can find it just East of Willamette Pass on Oregon Highway 97.

  • From Eugene: Take 58 East to 97 South. It is on your right, just North of Chemult.
  • From Bending: Take 97 South and look for it just North of Chemult.
  • From Kamath Falls: Jump on 97 North

Is there a trail system?

Yes! There is a complex system of cross country skiing or snow shoe trails. The map shows these as groomed but we didn’t see any indication that grooming had been happening.

In any case, there is a big trail system. I recommend looking at the map and understanding that there are two main loops, however. Each loop varies in length from approximately .5 to over 2 miles and the first two loops are connected to all other loops by a subtle connector trail. We were having so much fun that we found ourselves over an hour an half away from the parking lot and still going further into the woods! The only way back was to keep following the loops out and wait to head back or to turn around.

I can’t remember the last time we turned around while hiking but today was the day!

What should I know about the trails?

  1. The trail is well marked by blue diamonds. Where the diamonds are absent, there are yellow ribbons in the trees. I could pretty much always see a marker ahead.
  2. The distances on the map are for each individual loop, not the distance from the trail head. I can’t stress that enough!
  3. Trail names and distances are absent from the trail markers after you get past the initial two loops. Trails are only marked by blue diamonds. No other trail markers are present.
  4. The first loops (upper and lower runner) start at the campground. There is a lot of opportunity to be in the sunshine. The loops further from the trail head are in the forest and a heavier canopy makes it shady and cooler.
Be sure to check out the connector between the closer loops and the further. Although it is all fun, once you take that connector, there is not fast way back!

What is the terrain?

It was relatively flat at the beginning and then hills and valleys as we got back the two initial loops. Views of Diamond Peak were limited by the trees had personalities and there wasn’t anyone else in site!

The snow was too sunbaked for skiing but it was perfect for snowshoeing, however.

Follow the blue diamonds through the old fire area and into the thicker forest.

Do I need 4 wheel drive?

I would say “no” but here is how it was plowed today. We were alone when we pulled in but two trucks and trailers arrived later and quickly got stuck in the unplowed part of the parking lot. I found this parking lot very interesting as it was plowed for driving but if you parked where it was plowed it blocked the road. In any case, we did not use our 4 wheel drive but can see where it may have come in handy!

Chains are required on Willamette Pass if you come from the West.

Parking lot is huge but was mostly not plowed.

What amenities are there?

  • A warming hut! A nice warming hut was just a few feet from where we parked. It is complete with a picnic table and wood stove. Be sure to come prepared with wood!
Warming Hut. Oregon Winter day trip!
Warming hut picnic table
  • Bathrooms. They were open but posted that they are not maintained in the winter.
  • Picnic tables. Besides the one in the warming hut, there were picnic tables near the parking lot and at every campsite, of course. There was too much snow on them for us but there were plenty around and I can see where they would be useful on a sunny winter day.
4 sets of bathrooms are near the parking lot. They are not maintained, however.

Next time, I am bringing wood and friends (post-Covid, of course) and setting up shop in the warming hut. A fire in the wood stove and dinner in the hut would be the perfect end to an Oregon Winter Day Trip!

Next up is further progress on our Sprinter Van Conversion. We are working with Roost Vans on our DIY conversion so be sure to stay in touch and see how it goes!

Check out Cresent Lake sno park and Santiam Pass!