A NATURAL HISTORY WRITER. Based in the Pacific Northwest, Damian Fagan is a freelance natural history writer and nature photographer who focuses on the flora and fauna of the American Southwest and the Pacific Northwest. Of course, this gives him a good excuse to go hiking...
There are two snowshoe trails at the Swampy Sno Park outside of Bend, Oregon. The Porcupine Snowshoe Loop strikes out from the trailhead to the Swampy Shelter, while the other loop heads to the Nordeen Shelter. Both are excellent loops for beginners to intermediate snowshoers, although there is about 300 feet of elevation gain along the eastern return portion of the Porcupine Loop trail as one climbs up and then down Telemark Butte. The Nordeen Loop is relatively level with minimal elevation gain.
Snowshoe trail markers along the Porcupine Snowshoe Loop
The Nordeen Shelter, rebuilt in 2007, honors Emil Nordeen a Central Oregon ski pioneer. The Swampy Shelter, built in 1980, is a bit more rustic.
Listed mileages for the two loops are: Porcupine 4.0 miles round trip and Nordeen 5.25 miles round trip.
Don't forget your Oregon Sno Park permit for parking at this trailhead!
Snow lays heavy in the Oregon Cascades. Seems like for the past several weeks we've gotten snow every day, but that is fine when I'm wanting a wintry walk.
Recently constructed Meissner shelter
Strapping on the snowshoes or skis, just being out is the goal. Several of the local Sno Parks have groomed nordic trails, thanks to the Tumalo Langlauf Club. But more than once I've had to break trail through deep powder in my snowshoes.
Meissner area trailhead
Took my Central Oregon Community College Continuing Learning class up to the Meissner Shelter last week. The trail was well stomped down from the weekend traffic, which made the first time outing easy. Perhaps this week's trip to the Nordeen Shelter will be a bit different with the snowfalls occurring after the weekend traffic has departed.