One of the perks of living on this side of the Cascade Range is that hiking season doesn't come to a screeching halt at the stroke of November and the annual onslaught of the great gray yuck. On the contrary, winter here means crisp, clear days with wide open views; one need just trade hiking boots for snowshoes.
Meisner/Swampy Lakes Sno-Parks
Staple of the Bend winter scene, Virginia Meisner and Swampy Lakes Sno-Parks offer a combined 14 miles of dedicated snowshoe trails that link together via a transit loop allowing patrons to park at either location as well as avoid the ire of Nordic skiers (read: stay off the groomed trails!). These parks are a great place for newbs to get their snow legs, and offer some more challenging terrain for advanced snowshoers to build endurance as well.
Hwy 46 - Milepost 14, elevation 5,350 feet and Hwy 46 - Milepost 16, elevation 5,800 feet respectively. Sno-Park Permit required
Dutchman Flat Sno-Park and Beyond
Near Mt. Bachelor where Cascades Lake Highway closes for the season, this multi-use Sno-Park is crazy busy on weekends but does contain three miles of designated snowshoe trails and is the starting point for some of the most spectacular winter scenery Central Oregon has to offer. Sparks Lake and Broken Top are both 10-mile out-and-backs from here. For detailed trail guides check out Shae Anderson's "Snowshoe Routes: Oregon."
Hwy 46 - Milepost 22, elevation 6,250 feet. Sno-Park Permit required.
Perhaps less for the resident Bendite and more for when one's folks come to visit is Wanderlust's Moonlight and Starlight Snowshoe Tours. These night tours provide high desert star shine complete with naturalist interpretation, washed down with hot chocolate. They also provide the snowshoes, headlamps, and transportation. Cost is $75 and tours can be booked online at wanderlusttours.com.