December 5, 2016
By Laurel Brauns
Photo at right: Nordic skiers pause to enjoy the scenery at Todd Lake, near the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center. Photo by Nate Wyeth Photography, courtesy of Visit Bend
Bend, Oregon lies in a transitional landscape between arid high desert and mountainous ponderosa pine forests. Stretching out along the plains and foothills of Mt. Bachelor with a population of nearly 87,000 residents, this Central Oregon town is considered to be the state’s gateway to four-season outdoor adventure.
Averaging 24 inches of snow a year, Bend’s rolling terrain lends itself to Nordic skiing. It’s no coincidence then, why the town is home to a premier cross-country ski team, XC Oregon, and is a regular spring training ground for the U.S. Ski Team.
The breathtaking scenery, steady snowfall, and consistent sunshine of Central Oregon, makes it the textbook place to learn the sport.
Nordic trails between Bend and Mt. Bachelor weave through the Deschutes National Forest, laying perfect ground for all levels to break trail or glide groomed tracks.
We’ve gathered this list of Nordic trails near Bend — along with dog-friendly Sno-Parks — and where to find the area’s best après-ski burrito.
Explore 35 miles of Nordic trails at Mt. Bachelor, just a 30-minute drive from Bend along Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway, a 66-mile stretch of roadway also known as Forest Route 46. The area includes easy loops for beginners and double diamonds with 600-foot elevation gains for experts.
The Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center has skis available for rent that are waxed and sharpened daily, along with new equipment and demos from top name brands. The Center staff’s instructors teach both skate and classic style skiing and offers affordable packages for beginners which include rentals, a day pass and a one-hour lesson.
After a few hours of gliding around on expertly groomed trails, plan to have lunch by the cozy fireplace in the Nordic Center. Try one of the freshly made burritos that are known to Mt. Bachelor employees and local skiers alike as the best lunch on the mountain.
There are also a number of Sno-Parks off Century Drive that leaves Bend and quickly turns into Highway 97 on the way to Mt. Bachelor. The most popular is Virginia Meissner, maintained by Meissner Nordic.
This community ski area offers 25 miles of groomed trails for both skating and classic style skiing. Meissner is connected through a series of trails to the Swampy Lakes Sno-Park, only two miles up Highway 97.
Pack a lunch and relax in one of the many warming huts with fireplaces throughout the trail network maintained by the Central Oregon Nordic Club.
Other Sno-Parks found along Highway 97 are Dutchman Flat, Edison Butte, Kapka Butte, Skyliner and Vista Butte.
If you would like to bring your canine friend along, there’s a dog-friendly groomed trail at Wanoga Sno-Park, just past the entrance to Virginia Meissner.
The 2.2 mile-long trail is groomed for skate skiing, though classic skiers are also welcome. There’s even a separate snowshoe trail for those who prefer stomping over gliding. Dogs are also allowed on the ungroomed trails at Skyliner, Edison Butte and Kapka Butte Sno-Parks.
This dog-friendly snow zone is maintained by the canine lovers at DogPac, an organization that works with the Forest Service and Bend Park Recreation District to provide off-leash recreation opportunities for dogs and their guardians in Central Oregon.
Mt. Bachelor: www.mtbachelor.com
Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center: www.xcoregon.org
Meissner Nordic: www.meissnernordic.org
Central Oregon Nordic Club: www.conordicclub.org/new
Sno-Parks of Oregon: www.odot.state.or.us/forms/dmv/6642.pdf
Laurel Brauns writes about outdoor adventures and music for publications including Northwest Travel, 1959 Magazine and Central Oregon Magazine. This article appears courtesy of the Visit Bend tourism bureau. www.visitbend.com