Big Springs Sno-Park
When you're looking for a serene place to snowshoe or do a little cross-country skiing without the snowboarders and frantic downhillers, Big Springs Sno-Park, east of Sweet Home, is just what you're looking for.
It's a place where near-empty parking lots mean you'll have a chance to blaze your own trail and really enjoy Mother Nature.
The Ponderosa pines are weighed down with velvety snow and the only sounds you're likely to hear are an occasional breeze, the ice in your breath and the "schuss" of your skis or shoes tracking through snow.
Choose from five trails ranging from 1.5 to 3.5 miles in length. All are relatively easy but will still challenge the beginner.
The Lava Lake East trail adds to the outdoor scenery with a gentle downhill run to the 320-acre lake prized for its rainbow trout in late spring and early fall.
The most difficult of the trails is Big Springs Loop, which covers a variety of terrain and vegetation and offers challenging grades that pay off with areas of solitude and amazing scenery.
For more information, call 541-367-5168 or visit the Willamette National Forest Web site, www.fs.fed.us/r6/willamette.
Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.