Ray Benson Sno-Park, near Hoodoo Ski Area, offers a plethora of cross-country skiing opportunities as well as some nice backcountry skiing on the east side of adjacent Hayrick Butte. You'll find an extensive network of marked and unmarked trails in addition to lakes and backcountry shelters. The area is popular with snowmobilers as well, and they have their own well-signed trail system and are rarely seen or heard once you leave the vicinity of the parking lot. There is a large warming hut in the parking lot that was constructed by the Mount Jefferson Snowmobile club in cooperation with the Forest Service. There is a trail map of the area posted here. No overnight use of this hut is allowed.
This short loop starts out on South Lake Trail, which is the most popular entry point for the area. The beginning of this trail skirts a meadow under Hayrick Butte before entering the trees a short distance from the parking lot. The trail is easy to intermediate with some ups and downs. Mount Washington looms through the trees to the south. At the first trail junction, take a sharp left onto an unmarked, unmaintained forest road. This section of the loop is not signed and is not on the Forest Service winter recreation map of the area. Consider a there-and-back trip on the South Loop Trail if you are unsure of your route finding abilities. The forest road is relatively easy to follow as it climbs gently back to the southeast corner of the parking area.
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.