This past week has been one of mostly spring-like temperatures and sunshine at the mid to upper elevations resulting in settling and melting of our local snow pack. Through much of last week the lower elevations experienced a foggy/low clouds inversion which kept the temperatures below
the fog line near freezing; the inversion finally lifted with spring-like weather for the lower elevations as well. The weather made a change over the past 24-48 hrs with cooler temps and cloudy skies entering the picture.
Since Sunday morning at the mid-upper elevations we’ve received a few snow flurries and a trace of new snow. Temperatures have continued on the
cooler side. The forecast for the next few days is calling for cool temperatures and a chance of snow or rain showers. Snow accumulations of 1-3″ (that’s inches) at mid-upper elevations possible. Then later in the week partly cloudy with some continued cool temperatures.
What’s this weather mean for our winter trails? Minor improvement in the snow conditions at the mid-upper elevations with any additional snow and at least holding on to what we have. Various reports from visitors just north of us in Washington and Northern Oregon indicate the meager snow pack here in the Central Oregon Cascades is about the best for the northwest at this time.
Conditions at local snow parks at this time are as follows:
Dutchman Sno-Park – Fair to somewhat good (how many degrees of “good” can there be?) snow conditions for nordic skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. Increasing low snow hazards. Some limited snowmobile trail grooming has occured over the weekend. A big “thank you” to John White, Moon Country Snowmobile Club Grooming Chair for getting out and smoothing out some of
the bumps on a very maginal snow base.
Elk Lake Resort is planning on closing for the winter season on March 4. They will reopen sometime before summer season rolls around.
Vista Butte – Fair to poor conditions for skiing and snowshoeing.
Edison Sno-Park – Poor to marginal snow conditions for winter sports. Hard and icy to soft and springlike snow with increasing low snow hazards appearing.
Swampy Sno-Park – Fair to marginally good snow conditions for skiing and snowshoeing. Add 3-6 inches of new snow on the existing base and
conditions would be good to very good.
Wanoga Sno-Park – Fair to marginal snow conditions for snowmobiling. Hard and icy to soft and springlike snow with increasing low snow hazards.
Meissner Sno-Park – Fair (higher up) to inadequate snow. Lower elevation trails have many bare spots and low snow hazards.
Skyliner Sno-Park – Poor to inadequate snow conditions. Mostly icy with many bare areas.
Six Mile – No snow!
Ten Mile – Marginal snow with bare areas around the snow park but improving into the higher elevations.
Let’s hope for more snow in March!
Summer trail conditions at the lower elevations are for the most part, it depends on the day situation. We have been on a roller coaster ride
between winter-like (frozen and hard) to spring-like (soft and muddy) conditions on the Deschutes River Trails and trails out of Phils Trailhead.
Frozen and hard while maybe being better for the trails can be rough for hiking and biking on frozen ruts. Soft and muddy conditions are neither good for the trail nor the trail users as trails are rutted and prone to erosion and the users can get quite muddy and wet in the process. Using soft and muddy trails also increases the maintenance requirements as well.
Really, the best thing you can do for these soft and muddy, presently “fragile” trails and yourself is to avoid them until conditions dry out and harden up.
The horse trails out of Horse Butte (southeast of Bend) are fairing better at this time as they have dried out enough to make for a decent tread
Here’s a present trail conditions perspective from a Central Oregon Trails Alliance (COTA) and mt biking representive who knows poor conditions when he sees them:
just posted at www.cotamtb.org
by Mark DeJohn
Local trails are taking heavy damage!
read and respond to it at www.cotamtb.org/news.php?050228074756t
I have heard many people lately talking about how the trails are getting all rutted and hard to ride because it is so muddy. Right now the amount of labor to repair the trails is skyrocketing. Our soil here in central oregon is not like soil in the valley. It is going to go from mud to bone dry in a short period of time leaving us with ruts. I have been working the dirt in the woods for the past 8 years and I can tell you that the damage inflicted in the early season will carry over for the entire summer.
So here is my call for help to all of the riders that have enjoyed this early season of riding on the trails: Please take the time to show up for a
trail work event this year and give back to the trail network. Convince your friends to come along and bring some of there friends. With your help we will maintain a great resource that we all love.
Tips for riding at this time of year:
1. Ride at an earlier time of day when the ground is still frozen and you leave no impact.
2. Ride where there is no mud, and if you encounter mud either get off your bike and walk or turn around and head back because the trails are not ready for riding.
3. Ride someplace without mud like Horse Ridge.
4. Build your base fitness by jumping on the road bike instead.
No matter what you do to help keep our trails in good shape please avoid them when they are mud bogs.
Thanks for understanding,
IMBA Rep. Eastern Oregon
To post a reply to this on www.cotamtb.org click the “Add Your Input!” links on the site or click this: www.cotamtb.org/newsform.html
With that note we’re asking that trail users (hikers, bikers and horse riders) be patient with our presently challenging “inbetween seasons” and
seriously think about the impacts they may be causing to trails during these sensitive thawing periods. Are the long term effects of rough and
eroded trails caused by using them too early worth it? Please remember to Tread Lightly!
Thanks and have a safe week!