With the onset of cooler temperatures, a touch of winter has returned to the Deschutes National Forest.
Trails above 6,000 feet may see a foot or more of new snow. Trail users should expect wintry conditions out of Dutchman Flat, the last holdout among area sno-parks.
Conditions at Swampy Lakes and Vista Butte sno-parks are marginal at best, while other sno-parks, with little to no snow remaining, are done for the season.
For lower-elevation summer trail users, the recent precipitation has lessened the dust factor. Muddy conditions persist around the Metolius-Windigo Trail. Two crews will be doing restoration work on trails and riparian areas through the week, but that shouldn’t hamper trail use.
The Deschutes River Trail is in good condition. A small sinkhole was recently repaired just upstream of the boat ramp at Dillon Falls. Flowing water has undercut the riverbank in the area twice this spring, and riders, runners and hikers will notice where the trail has been rerouted in the area.
Leash requirements go into effect May 15 along the Deschutes River Trail between Meadow Day Use area and Benham East. The requirement remains in effect through Sept. 15, and those in violation may receive a $200 fine.
Black Rock Trail now boasts a new trailhead out of Lava Lands Visitor Center, where a roughly parallel paved path is under construction.
The recent controlled burn that closed the Marvin’s Garden Trail in the Phil’s Trail system was a success. Marvin’s Garden has reopened for recreational business, but those accompanied by dogs are advised to keep a watchful eye and have a leash handy while traveling through the burn area, as stumps may continue to smolder.
Trail adopters are starting to do their usual trail summer trail cleanup work, but users of currently accessible summer trails may encounter the winter blowdown. As the snowline recedes to higher elevation on wilderness trails, substantial blowdown will likely be the rule. It will take some time until volunteer crews can reach higher-elevation trails for clearing.
Meanwhile, high-elevation summer trails in the Green Lakes and Broken Top areas remain buried beneath snow and won’t be accessible for two to three more months.