Next to sledding, snowshoeing is one of the most accessible ways to experience winter. You don’t need to learn a lot of technical skills or buy a bunch of gear—all you have to do is grab a pair of snowshoes and get exploring. Well—grab a pair of snowshoes, figure out where to go, and then start exploring.
As for that middle piece on your destination? That’s where the guidance below will factor. Medford is surrounded by some of the greatest and most varied natural beauty that Oregon has to offer. That said, some places are better for snowshoeing than others. Snow-covered roads, wide trails, and more rolling terrain tend to be the most snowshoe-friendly. And because moving through snow is way tougher than strolling across dry ground, try sticking to shorter loops instead of looking to knock out a 20-mile day, especially if it’s your first time on ’shoes.
With all that in mind, consider a mix of wide, snowy Forest Service roads, and narrower singletrack so you’ll be able to find something fun no matter your comfort level. Here are five local-favorite spots to snowshoe near Medford.
1. Crater Lake
On average, Crater Lake National Park gets more than 40 feet of snow per year. That’s enough to turn this tourist hotbed into a quiet winterscape, devoid of crowds and painted all in silvers and blues. The other bonus to having that much show is that the main park road closes to vehicle traffic in the winter—which means those traveling via human power get full reign along the iconic 31-mile Rim Drive. Consider a 2.4-mile out-and-back from Rim Village to Discovery Point, or a 5.4-mile out-and-back to Watchman Overlook. (Both can be done via road or trail.)
During most winters, park rangers also lead guided snowshoe tours. Each two-hour walk wanders through off-trail terrain that most Crater Lake visitors never get to see. Best of all: Sign up for a guided hike, and snowshoe rentals are free of charge.
2. Mount Ashland
Mount Ashland may be best known for its skiing, but its easy access and plentiful trails make it just as idyllic a snowshoeing destination. You can park at the Mount Ashland Ski Area lot as long as you have an Oregon Sno Parks parking permit. Head east to Bull Gap for some gentle downhill hiking to sweeping views of Mount Shasta, or go west and connect Forest Service Roads 20 and 300 to gain the Mount Ashland summit.