The Virginia Meissner Sno-Park is one of the most popular Sno-Parks in Central Oregon, and for good reason. The area has over 25 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails, several different dedicated snowshoe loops, and 5 different back-country warming shelters scattered between here and Swampy Lakes. If you are looking for a spot to trek through the woods in a well- developed setting, with awesome spots to take a break and enjoy our surroundings, this is the place for you.
The Virginia Meissner Sno-Park was named in honor of Virginia Meissner in the 1970s. She was instrumental in developing young skiers and outdoor enthusiasts in Central Oregon, and was also a big advocate for keeping the areas west of Century Drive classified as non-motorized.
One of the best snowshoe trails found in this sno-park is the Long Loop to the Meissner Shelter. This trail leaves the staging area behind the large warming house and heads towards the northeast. The trail travels through a nice mixed forest of Lodgepole and Ponderosa Pines, Douglas Fir, Mountain Hemlock, and others as it slowly drops about 75 feet in the first 1/3 of a mile. At about the half mile mark, you will reach the junction of the loop. Head to the right, as this will allow for a quicker return time following your break at the shelter.
The trail continues to descend as it falls another 150 feet in the next 0.6 miles. The stroll is very pleasant though as you wind your way through the trees and occasional open area. Unless you are hiking immediately after a storm, the path is usually well packed. Following this low point, you will find yourself climbing for the next ¾ of a mile as you ascend over 250 feet up the ridge.
The prize of this climb is found at the top of the ridge. The Meissner Shelter sits in a nice open area with a beautiful view of Broken Top and South Sister. There is a wood stove inside the shelter or, if it is a beautiful day, there are also little portable fire pits where you could start your own little marshmallow roasting blaze out in the snow, if you desire.
When you are done hanging out with all the skiers, find the continuation of the Long Loop behind the shelter. The trail will head due south as it descends back down the ridgeline. You will stay to the right as you pass the intersection for the Short Loop and hit the original junction after ¾ of a mile. Following that intersection, you only have half a mile until you are home free.
To reach the Virginia Meissner Sno-Park, just head west of Bend on Century Drive towards Mt Bachelor. The Sno-Park will be on the right 11 miles from the round-about at the intersection of Mt Washington, Reed Market, and Century Drive.
Passes: An Oregon Sno-Park permit is required November 1 through April 30.
Dogs: Are not allowed at this Sno-Park.
Open Season: There will usually be snow cover from Thanksgiving into April some time.