Many summer roads in the Deschutes National Forest are closed after December 1 to become Nordic skiing trails. The roads are not accessible by car until April 1.
Some skiers say vehicles are still reaching the trails, ruining the snowpack.
“When cars drive in the winter on the groomed Nordic trails, it creates very unsafe conditions,” Meissner Nordic Ski Club President Steve Roti said.
The club is working in tandem with the U.S. Forest Service, trying to find a new way to keep these drivers away from skiers.
“The last few years have seen an absolute just an explosion of people wanting to get out on the National Forest and to either enjoy their regular favorite activity or try a new activity,” said Lisa Machnik, recreation staff officer for Deschutes National Forest. “That can mean some challenges in managing just the volume of people.”
Roti says the impact is felt worse during weak snow years.
“It really cuts into the ability to recreate the designated non-motorized ski trails during the winter,” Roti said.
The season is young and Roti is optimistic. Forest Service rangers are already on the ground.
“They’re out here today (Thursday) putting up barriers on some of the access points to the trail system and we appreciate that help,” Roti said.
The Forest Service says it has discussed additional barriers with Meissner Nordic Ski Club.
“Meissner Nordic has been great at communicating where they’re seeing problems,” Machnik said. “We ask that people pay attention to where they’re going and help preserve the snowpack when we do get some so that we can all get a chance to ski.”
The lack of snow in the last week has deteriorated conditions at Virginia Meissner and Swampy sno-parks. Roti says the best spot to find an early season trail is up at Mt Bachelor’s Nordic center.