trillium lake

This winter, take a hike! Snowshoeing is a gentle, easy way to explore Oregon’s best summer hiking trails while they’re flocked in snow.  Here are three trails that offer an additional reward, a midway stop at an alpine lake.

Trillium Lake (4.5 miles)

Picture-perfect mountain vistas await visitors to popular Trillium Lake, an hour east of Portland on Mt. Hood.

From the Trillum Sno-Park, the trail drops a half a mile into the Trillium basin, named for the triple-leafed flower that blooms here each spring. At the bottom of the hill, the trail to the left takes snowshoers on a clockwise loop around the lake. Dogs are permitted, and the trail is popular with cross-country skiers, so make sure not to stomp on the ski tracks.

The main trail is flanked by trees for the first two miles, offering no hint of what’s to come. Suddenly, at a sharp right-hand bend, Trillium Lake reveals itself, with Mt. Hood towering above it. Linger for photos and lunch before weaving back into the woods for a rolling return to the Trillium basin, and the half-mile uphill to the trailhead.

GETTING THERE: From Portland, head east on Hwy. 26 for 58 miles to Trillium Sno-Park, two miles east of Government Camp. For more information:  Zigzag Ranger District, 503.622.3191.

Todd Lake (6 miles)

Snowshoers looking for deep powder and deep woods will enjoy the seclusion of Todd Lake, tucked among the Central Oregon Cascades.

The easiest access is from Mt. Bachelor’s Nordic Center. Hikers share a half-mile common corridor with Nordic skiers to the closed Cascade Lakes Highway, a winter snowmobile route.

The Todd Lake Trail starts just on the other side, plunging north into the woods and twisting through a forest of lodgepole pine and mountain hemlock.

The route passes the Water Tower Trail and then crosses a Forest Service road before arriving at this picturesque alpine lake. Retrace the route back along the Todd Lake Trail for a six-mile hike or add another mile by taking a short out and back detour to view the water tower.

GETTING THERE: From Bend, head southwest on the Cascade Lakes Highway for 22 miles to the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center. For more information: Bend/Fort Rock Ranger District, 541.383.4000.

Gold Lake (4.5 miles)

An hour east of Eugene, three cozy lakes and a lunchtime warming shelter are tucked away on a gentle winter walk near Willamette Pass.

From Gold Lake Sno-Park, the trail follows a wide snow-covered road that meanders for two miles to the edge of Gold Lake. A warming hut is perched just above the lake on a small hill. The three-sided shelter is stocked with firewood and is a great place to warm up and enjoy lunch in the woods.

After relaxing at the lake, snowshoers can either retrace Gold Lake Road to complete the 4.5 mile route or, from the warming shelter, follow the trail south to Lower and Upper Marilyn Lakes. This lightly traveled side trail passes between a pair of quaint, sub-alpine lakes before reconnecting with Gold Lake Road, adding about a mile to the return trip.

GETTING THERE: From Eugene, travel 67 miles east to Gold Lake Sno-Park. For more information: Willamette National Forest, 541.782.2283.

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