Umpqua National Forest
Here are almost 100 miles of cross-country ski trails in Umpqua National Forest, something for every skill level all through superb forest, many with superb views. This should be enough to keep you occupied for a while. But when you get bored (ha!), head over to nearby Crater Lake National Park or Deschutes National Forest. Break out the wax!
South Diamond Sno-Park Trails: Mostly short easy trails with one stunning exception
Round-The-Lake Loop Trail: Good view, big trees, gentle climb
Three Lake Sno-Park Trails: A short fun trail and some challenging longer ones
Mt. Thielsen Sno-Park Trails: To the top of Mt. Thielsen if you're up to it
Howlock Mt Parking Trails: A good pick from easy trails to the edge of the wilderness
Cinnamon Butte Sno-Park Trails: Work for those views!
Lemolo Lake Nordic Trails: Fun for the whole family
South Diamond Sno-Park Nordic Trails
Outback Trail: 1 mile, easiest, machine groomed
Horse N' Teal-Thielsen View Trail: 1.6 miles, easiest
Pizza Connection: 2.5 miles, easiest, groomed
North Crater Trail: 9 miles, more difficult
Access: South Diamond Sno-park is located 0.2 miles west of the junctions of Highway 230 and Highway 138 (about 85 miles from Medford on Hwy. 230, and 85 miles from Roseburg on Hwy. 138). There is parking for about 50 vehicles. Sno-park permits are required here. This sno-park is also used by snowmobilers for accessing the many groomed snowmobile trails around the Diamond Lake area. To reach the Outback, Horse N' Teal and Pizza Connection trails skiers and snowmachiners share about 0.8 mile of a wide-groomed trail.
The Outback Trail is a double-tracked groomed loop system that can be accessed at about 0.5 mile north of sno-park. It takes you through the Broken Arrow campground and ties into the Horse N' Teal Trail or the Pizza Connection Trail. The Horse N' Teal Trail is also double-tracked groomed from the Pizza Parlor west for about 0.25 mile along the south edge of Diamond Lake and then skirts along open areas (marshes in summer) on a non-groomed trail to the Silent Creek Trail.
The Pizza Connection is double-tracked from the Pizza Parlor through the Diamond Lake campground north to the Nordic Center and Resort. There are excellent views of the lake and Mt. Bailey. The North Crater Trail is accessible near the sno-park, where it crosses Highway 230 to the east about 0.10 mile. Go north and you parallel the Pizza Connection trail but higher up the slope (follow the blue diamonds). This trail is less used and recommended for intermediate skiers. It will take you to the Howlock Mt. Parking area. Go south on this same trail and it is about 4 miles to the North Crater trailhead and the Pacific Crest National Scenic trail.
Round-The-Lake Loop Nordic Trail
Access: At South Diamond Sno-park, North Diamond Parking, or Nordic Shop Parking
In the summer this 10.3-mile paved bike path will take you completely around Diamond Lake. In the winter it becomes the Round-the-Lake Loop, not to be confused with the Diamond Lake Loop snowmobile trail. The Round-the-Lake Loop is actually composed of four ski trails, some of which you may already be familiar with: the Vista Trail, the Pizza Connection, the Horse N' Teal-Thielsen View Trail, and the Westside Trail.
The Pizza Connection runs along the east side of Diamond Lake (through the campground) and connects the Resort area with the Pizza Parlor. It is double-tracked groomed and is 2.5 miles of pleasant and easy skiing for the whole family. The Horse N' Teal-Thielsen View Trail continues from the Pizza Parlor along the south end of the lake to Silent Creek (1.6 miles). This is an easy, backcountry trail and can be accessed from the South Diamond Sno-park. From Silent Creek continuing over the bridge is the Westside Trail. This 3.6-mile stretch is backcountry skiing along the west side of the lake (above the summer cabins higher up on the lower, forested slopes of Mt. Bailey). There are two snowmobile crossings: Watch out. This trail eventually gets back to the lake shore north of Thielsen View campground and a excellent spot for viewing Mt. Thielsen and the Sawtooth Ridge. It is 1 mile to Lake Creek, the outflow of Diamond Lake.
A real short ski on the snowmobile trail will put you on the Vista Trail. This trail climbs, gently, along the north shore (1.6 miles) through some very large Douglas-fir and Ponderosa pine. The views across the lake of Mt. Thielsen, Mt. Bailey and Crater Lake Rim are wonderful. You will exit behind the motel units at the Resort. This segment has a tendency to be wind-blown and may not have adequate snow at certain times of the season.
Three Lakes Sno-Park Nordic Trails
Silent Creek Trail: 2.3 miles, easiest
Mt. Bailey Trail: 5 miles, most difficult
Lakewest Trail: 8.8 miles, more difficult
Hemlock Butte Trail: 4 miles, more difficult
Access: Sno-park is located on Highway 230, 2.7 miles west of the Highway 138 junction. There is parking for about 20 vehicles and a sno-park permit is required. The sno-park is also used by snowmobilers to access the high country around Mt. Bailey and beyond. The Silent Creek Trail originates here also. A post with blue diamond and skier will be on the right. Elevation here is 5,390'. This is a fun trail, especially if someone has already broken track. You will reach Silent Creek in about 1.2 miles, the intersection of the Mt. Bailey Trail at about 1.5 miles, and the Diamond Lake Loop snowmobile trail at about 2 miles. The trail picks up just across the road and intersects the Horse N' Teal Trail at a 2.3 miles. The arched bridge over Silent Creek and the quietly flowing water make this a very beautiful spot.
The Mt. Bailey Trail intersects the Silent Creek Trail at the 5,200' elevation and climbs to the northwest eventually reaching the summit at 5 miles and 8,363' in elevation. Obviously for the experienced skier only. The grade on the first section to Hemlock Butte is about 15%, but beyond that expect grades up to 30%. Check with local officials for avalanche conditions.
The Hemlock Butte Trail begins about 2 miles up the Three Lake Trail (shared with snowmobiles) and a right turn at the first intersection on the Bailey Connect Trail (shared). Ski east for about 0.2 miles to the beginning of the Hemlock Butte Trail on your left, marked by a skier symbol. Its another 2 miles of backcountry skiing and a three-room cabin open to nordic skiers. Cabin was built by the Edelweiss Ski Club and has room for about 20 people. It's best to call ahead for reservations.
The Lakewest Trail is across the Highway from the sno-park and is a shared-user trail. Again ski single-file and to the right. It is 3.9 miles to the Taylor Cain shelter at Lakewest, and another 5 miles to the Hamaker parking area on the Prospect Ranger District.
Mt. Thielsen Sno-Park Nordic Trails
Mt. Thielsen Trail: 3.7 miles, more difficult
Spruce Ridge Trail: 2.5 miles, more difficult
Access: Sno-park is located 1.5 miles north of the junction of Highway 230 on Highway 138, about 2.7 miles south of the Diamond Lake Resort access road. There is a restroom and parking for about 30 vehicles. A sno-park permit is required.
The Mt. Thielsen Trail is the popular summer trail #1456 that leads hikers to the top of Mt. Thielsen (9,152'). You'll be skiing uphill on slopes averaging about 10% grade. Elevation at the parking lot is 5,300'. The trail intersects the Spruce Ridge Trail at 1.5 miles and 6,100' elevation. Continuing on the Mt. Thielsen Trail is recommended for experienced backcountry skiers. There are steeper grades and the trail in not marked with the familiar blue diamonds. This trail intersects the Pacific Crest Scenic Trail 2.2 miles further up at about the 7,300' elevation.
The Spruce Ridge Trail is fairly gentle, with some ups and downs and is marked with blue diamonds. It connects with the Howlock Mt. Trail 2.5 miles to the north. There are occasional views of Diamond Lake and Mt. Bailey to the west.
Howlock Mt. Parking Nordic Trails
Howlock Mt. Trail: 3.6 miles, more difficult
Spruce Ridge Trail: 2.5 miles, easiest
North Crater Trail: 9 miles, more difficult
Northern Exposure Loop: 3 miles, double-track groomed
Access: From Roseburg on Highway 138 take the north access road to the Diamond Lake Resort. The first parking area on your right is the Northern Exposure Loop. Room for about six vehicles. The Howlock Mt. parking area is your first left with room for about ten vehicles. Snow-park permits are not needed here at either area. Elevation is 5,340'.
Northern Exposure Loop is 3 miles of gentle terrain and great for novices. It is double-track groomed with a skating lane. It is the site of the annual John Day Nordic Ski Race. The North Crater Trail begins at the Howlock parking area to your right. It passes behind the horse corrals, crosses a snowmobile trail and then proceeds south through heavily timbered areas parallel with the east side of Diamond Lake and above the well-used Diamond Lake Loop snowmobile trail.
This is interesting terrain with many ups and downs, some tight comers, and views of the lake and Mt. Bailey. You might consider taking your skis off to get across a couple of draws. You can drop down to the groomed trails near the lake shore or continue on to another snowmobile crossing (3.6 miles). A right turn here down the snowmobile trail will take you to the Pizza Parlor or continuing south for another 1.1 miles you will arrive at Hwy. 230 near the South Diamond Sno-park. The trail makes two quick highway crossings, then proceeds 4 miles to the North Crater trailhead (elevation 5,900 feet).
The Howlock Mt. Trail begins to your left, passes through a tunnel under the highway and continues uphill until it intersects with the Spruce Ridge Trail at about 1.2 miles (5,680'). Continuing on past Timothy Meadows (about 3 miles out) you'll reach the boundary of the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness (3.6 miles, 6,040 ft.). There are no trail markers beyond this point. It is 3.6 miles farther to the Pacific Crest Trail (recommended for experienced skiers only).
The Spruce Ridge Trail is fairly gentle terrain with some ups and downs and connects to the south with the Mt. Thielsen Trail at 2.5 miles. There are occasional views of Diamond Lake and Mt. Bailey to the west.
Lemolo Lake Nordic Trails
Poole Creek Loop: 2.7 miles, easiest
Pipeline Trail: 1 mile, easiest
Sidewinder Trail: 1.3 miles, easiest
Basket Trail: 0.7 miles, easiest
Access: Lemolo Lake is located 12 miles north of Diamond Lake, 75 miles from Roseburg on Highway 138. Turn on Road 2610 (Bird's Point Road) and drive approximately 5 miles to the Lemolo Resort turn-off. A plowed parking area is on your right. Look for the blue diamonds at the far comers of parking area to pick-up the Poole Creek Loop trail. This loop trail also crosses Road 2610 at the entrance of Poole Creek campground, where parking at road edge may be feasible depending on how wide the road has been plowed.
Most of these trails generally follow Forest Service road systems, and the elevations range from 4,100' to 4,400'. Snow conditions can be marginal, so check with the Lemolo Resort or the Ranger Station at Toketee.
The most challenging trail in this area is the Sidewinder trail: It winds downhill from its intersection with the Pipeline trail through the woods, crosses the Poole Creek trail and the Elephant-Mt. snowmobile trail, then terminates at the lower section of the Poole Creek trail. All these trails are easy and fun for the whole family. Skiing the Poole Creek trail can be fun in the campground loops and down to the lake, which may have very low water levels.
Cinnamon Butte Nordic Trails
Cinnamon Butte Trail: 3.2 miles, more difficult
Wits End Trail: 5.7 miles, more difficult
Access: Located 3.7 miles north of Diamond Lake Resort turnoff on Highway 138, 2.5 miles south of the Lemolo Resort turnoff on Highway 138. Parking for about ten vehicles. Elevation at this point is 4,820'. It is 1.5 miles to the Cinnamon Butte Trail junction on your left and another 1.5 miles to the top of the butte (elevation 6,417'). The 41-foot fire lookout tower was built in 1955 and moved to its present location in 1976 (originally it stood on Buster Butte near Oakridge). It is a treated-timber, flat-roofed style of lookout. There is potential avalanche hazard near the butte's top. On a clear day the view is splendid: Mt. Thielsen to the south, the Sawtooth Ridge to the southeast, Lemolo Lake and the North Umpqua River Canyon to the northwest.
Beyond the Cinnamon Butte Trail junction the Wits End Trail proceeds to the southeast at milder grades, from almost flat to about 8%. One mile beyond the junction you will come to a viewpoint that provides a look at Cinnamon Butte, Mt. Bailey, and the North Umpqua river canyon to the northwest. The next couple of miles are fairly flat, until you reach a large cut-over area. Slopes here range from 12-17%; it's open enough to have some fun with turns. The trail/road pickup again at the northeast corner of the clearcut, continues through a forested area, turns east and enters another large clear-cut. Ski to the top of the ridge for views of Cinnamon Butte, Mt. Bachelor, and the Three Sisters. The downhill runs on both trails will make your day. Be alert for avalanche hazards.
Information and Permits
Diamond Lake Ranger District
HC 60 Box 101
Idleyid Park, OR 97447
FS Northwest Avalanche Center
Oregon & Southern Washington
Diamond Lake Resort
The Sno-Park Program
The Sno-Park Program was developed to provide cleared parking areas for winter recreationists. There are four Sno-Parks located near the Diamond Lake area: North Crater Lake, Three Lakes, South Diamond, and Mt. Thielsen. Permits-are required between Nov. 15 and April 30. Permits should be displayed in the lower left comer of your windshield. They can be purchased at any DMV office, and many winter recreation resorts, ski areas, sporting good shops, and ski shops. The permit is accepted in Washington, Idaho, and California.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication