Tumalo Mountain is an ideal winter excursion for those looking for a moderate climb and top flight views. A close staple for Bend locals, the area gets some pressure in the winter. Sharing routes through the snow has benefits, however; as a backcountry trail, there are few if any trail markers, and there will likely be a good set of tracks to follow so you don't have to break a new trail. Regardless, always be sure to bring your map and compass for reference.
Head west to the far end of the parking lot, where you'll find a restroom and the trailhead up to Tumalo Mountain. You'll start hiking through a forest of mountain hemlock and true fir. In about a mile and a half you'll get views of Tumalo's summit. Here you will notice the trees have become more sparse, and shorter. These wind-blown trees will most likely be covered in a layer of ice, which makes for a great photo opportunity. The last half mile climbs steeply through this frozen forest before reaching the summit.
On a clear day you'll enjoy fantastic views of Oregon's high plateau, Mount Bachelor, The Three Sisters, and Broken Top. The geology of this area results from the incredibly dramatic exchange between volcanism and glaciation, fire and ice. As William Sullivan eloquently notes,
Tumalo Mountain and Mt. Bachelor are cinder cones - gigantic heaps of volcanic shrapnel. Though geologically fresh, they're both old enough to have been bitten by glaciers. Mt. Bachelor is the least damaged; it must have been so smoothly conical before the Ice Age that snow had few places to compact into ice. Tumalo Mountain, on the other hand, probably had a crater that allowed snow to collect. Under the weight of ice, the crater became a glacial cirque, leading to the destruction of the cone's entire northeast quarter.
Be careful not to get too close to the northeast edge of the summit, as an impressive cornice forms in heavy snow years, and it can easily break under a person's weight. Take time to soak in all the beautiful mountain views, and have a safe decent down the mountain.
Note that dogs are prohibited from November 15 through April 20.
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.