A “taste of winter has moved in," at least for the weekend, said Chris Sabo, U.S. Forest Service trails specialist.
It’s too early to tell if winter is sticking around in the high country — this week’s snow could melt off right away — but most of the trails above 5,500 feet have at least 2 to 4 inches of snow, and there may be as much as a foot on the Cascade crest, said Sabo.
It’s not quite time to break out the snow gear though, said Sabo, especially not the motorized kind. Dutchman Flat, among other areas, is still closed to motorized use. “A word of warning to the snowmobilers trying to get out early: Not only is it illegal and can cause soil impacts, it’s also a hazard to themselves and their sleds when they hit low snow hazards. Hold back. ... It’s not ready yet to pull the sleds out on the snow."
It’s an in-between season, said Sabo, “semi-winter." Most high elevation trails are inaccessible for most users — a snow hike at best, which can be difficult. “Probably best for most users to stick to the lower trails this weekend."
Paulina Peak Road is closed, and Newberry Volcanic Monument will be closing for winter in the near future, said Sabo.
McKenzie Pass has been closed for the winter season. Forest Road 370 is also closed from Todd Lake to the Broken Top trailhead.
The Cascade Lakes Highway is open, but may be closed by the county with short notice. Check with the Deschutes County Road Department (541-388-6581) for the latest details about road closures.
Recreationists headed to trails on the Cascade Lakes Highway or other high country areas should be aware that the trails are covered in snow and may be challenging to navigate, said Sabo. If you do choose to go, be sure to watch the weather carefully and be prepared with extra clothing, food, water, first aid supplies and anything else you may need if it becomes necessary to spend the night on the trail due to injury, weather or becoming lost.
The closure for the Pole Creek Fire has been partially lifted. Peterson Ridge, Forest Road 16 and trails east of the road have been reopened. Wilderness access west of the road will remain closed throughout the winter because of fire damage.
Lower elevation trails received a dusting of snow, which is likely to melt before the weekend.
Tumalo Falls is still closed until further notice, said Sabo.