“Winter has taken a dive," with rain making a mess of sno-parks early this week, said Chris Sabo, U.S. Forest Service trails specialist.
The sno-parks along the Cascade Lakes Highway were “to some degree functional" as of last weekend, but at this point there may not be enough snow for winter fun.
“We’ll stay tuned and see what the forecast brings in the next few days," said Sabo. “High elevations — even 6,000 feet and above — it’s going to be a tossup what it’s going to look like this weekend."
Winter trails are ready to see some action once the snow starts falling. The Forest Service has installed most of the winter signs around Dutchman Flat Sno-park and expects to have all of the winter trail signs in place by the weekend. Trail conditions are currently varied — from marginal snow levels to soft and even icy snow conditions. Those conditions are changing day to day.
An important note for snowmobilers heading south of Elk Lake: There is a logging operation under way between Elk Lake and the Crescent cutoff road. The highway (which is closed to vehicle traffic for winter) has been plowed and is currently not recommended for snowmobiling.
New Crescent snowmobile maps, covering an area from Diamond Lake to Crescent Lake and a section of the Crater Lake area, should be available at the Deschutes National Forest Bend office free of charge by the end of the week.
The good news is that the lower-elevation summer trails are still accessible, though there might be a fallen tree here or there. The summer trails are not cleared during the winter, said Sabo, but as soon as the trails dry out from the recent rain, there will be plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking and equestrian use.