The Wanoga Sno-Park has a little bit of something for everyone, and is a great family snow adventure destination. The west end of the park tends to be more dedicated to motorized snow adventures, but the east end has a sledding hill, snow bike and cross-country ski trails, and even a short, dedicated snowshoe loop. If you want to force your kids to try snowshoeing, this is the place to do it. The reward of that sledding hill is just a few steps away.
The Northstar Loop begins on the northern half of the parking loop in the Sno-Play area. As you enter the Wanoga Sno-Park, head to the left towards the Sno-Play area. You will come to a one-way loop. Follow the loop past the sledding hill and warming hut. Once it loops around and begins heading back, find a place to park. The trail is in the opposite direction of the sledding hill.
This is one trail where snow-shoes area required. Hiking in just boots or even with microspikes is not allowed because part of the trail is shared with bikes and post holes in the trail from people sinking up to their knees can ruin their day. So strap into those snowshoes and begin heading down the road to the east with other bikers and cross country skiers.
After 0.1 miles, the Northstar Loop will break off from this road and head to your right. You’re free to go either direction, but I started with the left most trail because it was better packed and easier to see. This is because this section of the trail is shared with bikers.
The entire Northstar Loop just kind of weaves through the trees, heading up and down some gentle hills. This section of the trail is no different as it meanders around for the next ¼ mile. At this point, you will find yourself on the bottom portion of the loop. A nicely groomed bike trail continues on to the south, but your snowshoe loop is a sharp turn to the right.
Continue heading back up the back half of the Northstar Loop, but you don’t have to worry about bikes from here on out. In 0.15 miles from the southern point, you will reach an intersection with the inner loop. This whole trail is really short, so you should take advantage of it. This trail may not be as well packed either, giving you a little more of a feel for true snowshoeing. In 0.15 miles, you will be back where you started the inner loop. So just continue heading north and you will be back on the initial road. Make a left and march that final 500 feet back to the parking lot. You did it!! Now go play.
To reach the Wanoga Sno-Park, head west of Bend on Century Drive towards Mt Bachelor. The Sno-Park will be on the left 12 miles from the round-about at the intersection of Mt Washington, Reed Market, and Century Drive. Once in the Sno-Park, follow the signs to the Snow Play area to the left. The trailhead is on the back side of the parking area loop.
Passes: An Oregon Sno-Park permit is required November 1 through April 30.
Dogs: Allowed and must be on leash or under voice command at all times.
Usage: Moderate along the trail.
Open Season: There will usually be snow cover from Thanksgiving into April some time.