The short trip to Bechtel Shelter is a favorite winter weekend excursion for families from the Southern Willamette Valley. Despite its popularity, the trip never really feels crowded, and lunch at the shelter is a great opportunity to meet people. The route follows a forest road with a nearly level beginning that becomes a gentle climb for the last mile to the shelter. Separate ski and snowshoe tracks ensure an easier path for your chosen mode of transportation. The shelter has a sleeping loft and is stocked with wood (please burn only what you need to stay warm). If you decide to stay overnight, be aware that all visitors must be accommodated. There is a warming hut in the Gold Lake Sno-Park parking lot, and it is staffed by volunteers from the Willamette Backcountry Ski Patrol. They have maps of the area for sale and are a great resource for current trail conditions. Dog owners, please pick up after your dog; the snow eventually melts, leaving unpleasant surprises along the trail for other users.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.