Tumalo Falls is probably the tallest, easily viewable waterfall near Bend, and viewing this waterfall covered in ice and snow minus the summer crowds is a very rewarding experience. While the trail is still very popular, and you could probably hike up it without the aid of snowshoes most of the time because it is so packed and well traveled, the numbers of people making the trek pale compared to the summer months. Plus, you get to begin your trek from further down the canyon, allowing you the opportunity to enjoy the vistas you would normal blast by in your car.
The trailhead for Tumalo Falls is easy to find, but parking can get a little tight. The snowshoe/ski trail beings at the Skyliner SnoPark near the end of Skyliner road. This is the site of an old ski area, owned by the city of Bend before Mt Bachelor took off. It also used to be a very popular sledding area until a few drunk families mowed down one too many kids while sliding down the hill on a mattress that may or may not have been on fire. Now it merely provides access to a snowy winter wonderland above.
The trail begins near the bathroom on the southwest corner of the parking area. Within a mere couple hundred yards, you will have to cross a plowed road, but should be able to pick the trail up easily on the other side. Then, follow the path as it parallels the road through a beautiful pine stand. About a quarter mile in, you will pass the Skyliner Lodge and enter wintery forest on your way towards Tumalo Falls.
After passing Skyliner Lodge, you will come to a small creek that you will need to cross. The stream is only about 3 feet wide or so, and there is usually a snow bridge over it, but be careful. Water is usually on the cold side in the winter. At 0.6 miles, you will hit intersection with the Tumalo Ridge Trail. Stay to the right (You don’t really want to climb that hill anyway) and continue up the creek.
The snowshoe is pretty straight forward from this point. The trail continues up the creek, with a few nice vantage points across the canyon to some cool rock formations. Once you cross a bridge over Bridge Creek, you will know that you are almost there. Continue on for the last 0.3 miles as you climb up into the summer parking area for Tumalo Falls, march up the road and head to the overlook. From here, you can see the falls plummet 89 feet to the frozen landscape below.
From the westside of Bend, at the traffic circle on Galveston and 14th, head west on Skyliners Road. Follow Skyliners Road for 9.7 miles until you reach The Skyliners Sno-Park. The parking area will be on the left.
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.
Open Season: The area usually recieves decent snow sometime in December and it should remain through most of March.