Spring conditions are settling in around the Deschutes National Forest, with warm prevailing temperatures expected through the weekend.
The only serviceable sno-parks remaining are along the Cascade Lakes Highway. Most other sno-parks finished for the season, with snow access difficult or nonexistent.
In general, snow access at Virginia Meissner, Wanoga, Swampy Lakes, Vista Butte and Dutchman Flat sno-parks ranges from fair to good. However, conditions are becoming marginal at Meissner, and snowshoers and skiers will likely need to hike in from the parking lot to reach adequate snow. Snow depth ranges from 8 inches in the vicinity of Virginia Meissner to 90 at Dutchman.
Winter trails are three to four weeks ahead of normal melting, and users should expect spring conditions with firm crusty snow in the mornings softening as the day warms.
Backcountry signs remain in place. Road plowing began last week from the south along Cascade Lakes Highway and have reached Elk Lake. The highway remains closed to automobile traffic and is not recommended for snowmobiles.
Conditions are improving for summer trail enthusiasts, with the snow line between 4,600 and 5,400 feet in elevation.
As the weather warms, users can expect increasing traffic as well as greater amounts of dust as trails dry.
Phil’s Trail, Deschutes River and Peterson Ridge could see heavy traffic this weekend. Phil’s Trail users are reminded to heed new one-way signs.
The gate to Tumalo Falls will remain closed through this weekend. If drying continues at the current rate, the gate could open late next week. Cyclists and hikers can use Forest Road 4603, which is snow-free, but soft conditions remain in the shady, gravel parking lot, with enduring snow on the Tumalo Falls Trailhead.
Construction continues on the new asphalt trail between Lava Butte and Sunriver, and users of singletrack Blackrock Trail are reminded detours are in place where the parallel trails cross paths. Mountain bikers using the increasingly popular Horse Butte trails southeast of Bend are reminded that those trails are heavily used by equestrian traffic, and to exercise caution and yield to horses and hikers while riding.