Crescent Lake Sno-Park

We decided to follow yesterday’s wildly successful sledding trip with a second trip to the mountains. This time we headed towards Willamette Pass, hoping to get a parking spot at Gold Lake Sno-Park. We arrived around noon and there wasn’t an open parking spot in site so we pushed onward. Approximately 7 miles later we found Crescent Lake sno-park. The parking lot is smaller than Gold Lake but obviously much less popular. Among the half a dozen cars there, at least three were attached to snomobile trailers and one was clearly park for the long haul. I had intended to opt for snow shoes today but once I saw the groomed and relatively flat route, we decided to try the cross country skis again.

Here are a few things to know about Crescent Lake sno-park.

1. There are snowmobiles and plenty of space for everyone.

The kids loved seeing the snowmobiles on the trail. I liked seeing the signs marking distances to towns and services along the snowmobile trails as this was reminiscent of winter in the the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. If you have a snowmobile, this may be one place to check out!

2. The terrain is perfect for beginner cross country skiers.

I am not talking about the kids here, they have picked it up just fine. My cross country skiing skills are marginal at best, however! These trails were perfect. We skiied on the groomed trails and in through the woods. I got tangled up a few times but nothing too serious. The kids progressed from beginners to experts as they provided me with tutorials about every kind of homemade nordic ski technique you can imagine.

3. The lake is a short distance from the parking lot.

The lake is a short 1/2 mile from the parking lot if you access it through the campground entrance. The kids spent a fair amount of time chopping ice chunks from the shore and toss into the lake. I warned them about breaking through the ice and ending up with wet socks. In the end, I was the only one with wet socks. They stayed dry and had tons of fun!

The boat ramp is also adjacent to the Crescent Lake Resort, which appeared to be closed for the season but still accessible to vehicles and a somewhat popular way to access the lake in the winter.

4. The other nearby sno-parks have thier own personalities and the Pacific Crest Trail is right there in the middle of it all!

Approximately 2 miles before Crescent Lake parking, there is Junction sno-park. It has an unbelievably huge parking lot, which happened to be mostly empty. I think it may be a hot spot of snowmobile parking but am not really sure.
Gold Lake was packed with cross country skiers and snow-shoers. The parking lot was much larger than Crescent Lake but was narrow and completely full. Don’t worry if you start into the parking lot and it feels narrow. Once you get to the end of the lot, there is a no-parking section that is labled “bus turn-around”. It worked great for us on this busy day!

Waldo Lake has a relatively small parking lot that I assume gets rather crowded. We stopped there to make dinner on our way out. It was dusk and there was only one other car but it was obvious that it is a popular spot during the day. The trail was wide and well packed from use. The kids grabbed the snow tubes and found some amazing sledding while I cooked soup in the van. Once it got dark, I pulled the van around to shine the headlights on the trail for them. They explored snow caves and hit some serious sledding jumps! I think Waldo Lake may be our next place to check out for a day but we may try to go early, late, or on a non-holiday weekday to avoid crowds.

The Pacific Crest Trail is right there for all of the PCT section hikers out there! My husband thru hiked the trail in 2004 and remembers Willamette Pass as one of his favorite sections! The trail was well marked but there was not any winter parking with direct trail access from the road.

These days of playing in the snow are keeping me going for sure! Remember to get your sno-park pass before you head out! You can learn more here!

Please follow our adventures~

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22 thoughts on “Crescent Lake Sno-Park

  1. Wow it looks beautiful! I’ve lived away from snow for about 11 years now, and I did actually miss it this year! I enjoy snowshoeing but I’ve never been Cross country skiing. If I ever move back to the PNW, I’ll definitely have to pick it up!

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  2. What a beautiful winter wonderland! I love how snowy it looks! Cross country skiing sounds like fun but I bet it is hard work! I’d be aching for days afterwards! What a beautiful spot to try it out though! Thanks for the great guide!

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  3. The snow looks beautiful here at Crescent Lake Sno Park! I love that it’s an easy cross country skiing spot for beginners in the Willamette Pass area. I live in nearby Portland so would absolutely check it out!

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  4. I’ve never been skiing so beginner trails would be necessary. This looks like the perfect winter wonderland to go skiing or snowshoeing though. So much snow!

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  5. This looks like a greaty wintry place to visit! I’ve never done cross-country skiing but the flat ground here makes it look like the ideal place to do so! Everything is so much prettier with the snow!

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  6. Looks like such a beautiful way to spend the day! I’ve grown to appreciate being able to get outside during winter for skiing and snowshoeing.

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  7. Wow the snow looks incredible and it sounds like a fun day out! I’m excited for travel restrictions to ease and for ski resorts to open again. Awesome post!

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  8. This snow park looks incredible. I really like winter activities and winter camping so would love it here. And the cross country ski trails would be where I would go.

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  9. Wow Crescent Lake looks absolutely stunning! I rarely travel to cold destinations, but it looks like so much fun. I would love to branch out of my comfort zone and try some winter activities!

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