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Low snowpack limits Crater Lake outings

A lack of snow at Crater Lake National Park means cross-country skiing and snowshoeing is limited, including in areas of the park typically buried in snow in mid-March.

Park officials said because of the lack of snow coverage, skiing and snowshoe outings on the West Rim Drive, Raven, Mazama, Pumice Flat and Pacific Crest Trail are not recommended. The Hemlock loop and East Rim trails remain open.

Garfield-Applegate Ridge off East Rim Drive is a possible alternative for snowshoers and advanced skiers. Park officials describe the route as an unmarked but straightforward ascent through meadows and groves of trees near the summit of the first climb. The distance from the trailhead is 3.2 miles.

March is typically Crater Lake’s heaviest snowfall month, but almost all of this month’s precipitation has been rain, not snow.

Since Oct. 1, 2014, the park has received 143 inches of snow, well below the 403 inches normally recorded as of March 16. The on-ground snow total is 24 inches, only 21 percent of the 117 normally measured in mid-March. Since Oct. 1, the park has received 48 inches of precipitation, which is exactly average.

Despite the lack of snow, the park is still offering ranger-led snowshoe walks on Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p.m. For information, visit the park’s website at http://1.usa.gov/1O0OT2V