Todd Lake is a beautiful lake that occupies the bottom of a glacial cirque which formed over 13,000 years ago when the glaciers occupying the area melted. Now, the nice carved depression is filled with 45 acres of water, with some spots reaching 60 feet in depth. This is an extremely popular spot for visitors during the summer, with its easy access off of the Cascades Lakes Highway. This is your chance to visit it in the winter, in a much more peaceful and serene setting.
The snowshoe begins from a place that is the exact opposite of serene, Dutchman Sno-Park. This Sno-Park is extremely popular and busy and has very limited parking. There are snowmobiles zooming around and a never ending train of cars looking for somewhere to park. Getting an early start is helpful in finding a parking spot, or a late one after people have started to leave. Just don’t get stuck out on the trail after dark. It gets cold. Cause its winter. And dark.
Once you gear up, dodge the hordes through the parking area and leave out of the north end of the Sno-Park, near the restrooms. The trail begins by heading up the side of the open, snowy area. Don’t go tromping straight across this spot because it is a dedicated motorized use area. Look for a crossing a little over half a mile from the parking area. Here, the meadow will start to pinch down some and the trail is turn to your left and head for the trees across the way.
Once across, make your way through some trees until you come to a pretty packed down snowmobile road. Follow the road for less than a quarter mile until you reach the official snowshoe only trail. Follow the trail to the right as it dives into the forest. You will weave your way through the trees and up and down small, powdery hills for about a mile and a half until you pop out on Forest Service Road 37, which is also a major thorofare for snowmobiles.
Follow the road for less than a quarter mile until you see a highway of tracks heading into the woods on your right. Follow these tracks as they head up Todd Creek for about 750 feet and then dump you out at Todd Lake. This frozen wonderland offers magnificent views across the lake and to Broken Top beyond.
Once you are ready to head back, retrace your steps back to the 37 road, and cross the road into the snowy meadow beyond it. The trail heads through the meadow and then begins weaving through the trees once again on your way back to the Sno-Park. On of the worst things about this trek is the majority of the uphill occurs in the last mile and a half or so, when you are already kind of tired. It can be a slog at the end.
About 1.3 miles from Todd Lake, you will complete the snowshoe only portion of the loop. From here, cross the Cascade Lakes highway and trek up the long, slow uphill common corridor that runs next to the highway for one more mile back to Dutchman Sno-Park.
From Bend, take Century Drive, which turns into the Cascade Lakes Highway, west for 20 miles. Dutchman Sno-Park is located less than half a mile past the turn off for the Sunrise Lodge on Mt Bachelor and will be on your right.
Passes: An Oregon Sno-Park permit is required November 1 through April 30.
Dogs: Not allowed in this area.
Open Season: Snow will start to accumulate around mid November and will usually last well into May.