The Best Backcountry Skiing Near Medford

Southern Oregon is teeming with beginner-friendly powder stashes. Here’s how to find them.

Maybe you’ve totally skied out Mount Ashland and are looking to mix it up. Maybe you’re just backcountry-curious and want to get in on the uphill ski trend. Regardless of your motivation, southern Oregon offers dozens of perfect places to learn how to backcountry ski or splitboard.

The region’s plentiful snow, vast stretches of public land, and variety of slope angles make it a haven for beginner and expert shredders alike. Of course, even these more mellow slopes can be subject to avalanche activity from time to time. Make sure you have the proper avalanche education and safety equipment, and always travel with a group of experienced backcountry skiers to help mitigate risk. 

Now, without further ado, here are a handful of the top recommended spots for beginner to intermediate backcountry touring near Medford, Oregon. 

Siskiyou Mountains  

The backcountry zones south and west of Mount Ashland offer some of the most accessible backcountry terrain near Medford. Because many of the slopes are only between 20 and 30 degrees steep, the area is well-suited to beginner and intermediate backcountry skiers. To access it, park at the lot just east of the Mount Ashland ski area. You can either descend Mount Ashland’s south-facing slopes, or tour west along NF-20 to find more solitude and a range of descent options, up to and including the fun, mellow west slope of Siskiyou Peak.

Mount McLaughlin 

Long descents and gorgeous views make Mount McLaughlin one of the best options for weekend skiing near Medford. Here you’ll find glacially carved bowls with a variety of slope angles, as well as steeper terrain that caters to more experienced skiers. To get to the good skiing, trace the summer trail up the East Ridge (about 4.3 miles and nearly 4,000 feet of gain to the top). You can continue all the way to the summit or stop around 8,000 feet to access fun, open skiing on the south and east sides of the ridge. If you go all the way to the top, target the south-facing slopes for more stable snow, or retrace your steps down the East Ridge for a lower-angle route back down.  

Crater Lake 

Crater Lake National Park closes its Rim Road to cars in the winter, giving human-powered outdoor adventurers (and the occasional snowmobiler) full reign. There are plenty of fun ski lines to be had within the park, but the section between The Watchman and Hillman Peak is one of the most accessible options. To get there, park at Rim Village, and tour clockwise around the lake, taking a spur to the west to reach the top of The Watchman. Once you top out, transition for a fun descent going north to the base of Hillman Peak. Then transition again, tour to the top of Hillman, and descend back down the way you came. From there, tour back to your car.  

Brown Mountain 

About an hour east of Medford, Brown Mountain offers a wide variety of skiable terrain. At lower elevations, its treed glades and gentle slopes are perfect for beginners. Higher up, its open bowl and steeper drops provide plenty to entertain the more experienced skier. To get there in the winter, park at the Summit Snopark (which provides great access to the nearby Pacific Crest Trail), or along state Highway 140. While the mountain is surrounded by trails on all sides, some of them are easy to miss on the descent. Be sure to bring a GPS or offline navigation app to help you get back to your car.  

Mount Shasta 

One of the tallest volcanoes in the Lower 48, Mount Shasta is home to world-class skiing just an hour and a half south of Medford. Here you’ll find deep snow, steep drops, and long runs that remain skiable for most of the year. You can find amazing descents all over the mountain, but you’ll need some crevasse safety know-how and navigational chops to brave much of the terrain. For a lower-risk option, do the popular tour from the Bunny Flat trailhead up Avalanche Gulch. You can descend the same way.  

Pelican Butte 

Located about an hour and a half northeast of Medford, Pelican Butte is a great place for long descents—more than 1,000 vertical feet in some places—and gorgeous views. From the summit, you can see both Mount McLoughlin and the peaks of Crater Lake National Park on clear days. To access the mountain in the winter, park along state Route 140 or along Westside Road near Klamath Lake, then head uphill on a mix of forest service trails and skin tracks (or cut your own if the snow’s fresh). Intermediate skiers should target the glacially carved bowl on the peak’s northeast face. Thanks to its high elevation and northern aspect, the bowl usually gets a ton of snow—and holds it well into the summer. If you’re less confident on steeps, have no fear: You’ll find plenty of mellower terrain amid the trees down low. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.