Big Springs Sno-Park has many options for the snow enthusiasts. With a variety of trails from easy to difficult, there’s something for everyone. The sno-park is located a few miles west of the Santiam junction, about 30 miles from Sisters. With easy access, a large parking area, and vault toilets, it’s a great spot to start an adventure! The Maxwell Sno-Park is just under a mile away with even more trail options.
The main trail from the parking area heads west along the Forest Service road 90. Note that it is a multi-use trail/road and is open to snowmobiles. Along that trail are markers with letters (they don’t go in alphabetical order; you’ll pass I, then A, and finally reach B at the end of the road). At the end of the trail, after about half a mile, is maker B, from there head south onto Big Springs Loop. Continue for another half-mile to reach marker C. From there take the right (southwest) to continue on to the Lava Lake East Trail. This trail descends through the old-growth forest toward Lava Lake for just over 2 miles. Keep an eye open for animal tracks in the snow or other signs of wildlife in the area. Lava Lake East is an out-and-back trail, but there are options to connect with the Big Springs Loop and the Middle Springs Loop trails to get back to the parking area.
The sno-park is a popular area, but with the many trail options, you’re bound to find some solitude in the snowy wonderland that is the Willamette National Forest.
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.