Snowmobiling at Bennett Pass Sno-Park

I did some scouting for a place to snowmobile on my way home from Redmond on Friday. There is hardly any snow around pass level, but I found decent conditions at Bennett Pass Sno-Park. Bennett Pass SnoPark is about 9 miles East of Government Camp, Oregon across from Mount Hood Meadows ski resort off Hwy 35. The trails at Bennett Pass are mainly used by cross country skiers and snowshoers due to a point known as the "terrible traverse" approximately 2.4 miles in (see location on map below). This section of the trail is a dangerous, one lane 4x4 road in the summer and can become a 60 degree avalanche-prone snow slope in the winter. Early season is normally the only time to snowmobile here.

My friend John and I left my house early Saturday morning to beat the traffic up to the mountain. It rained on the way up, but changed to snow just below Government Camp. By the time we arrived at Bennett Pass Sno-Park, there was about three inches of new snow on the ground. The parking lot was empty. We quickly unloaded the sleds and hit the trail. There was between 8 and 24 inches of snow on the first mile of trail. It was great riding even with the few mini-creeks running across the trail in spots. The weather even started to clear up. It was looking to be a great day.

My Polaris Snowmobiles on Bennett Pass Road     Fresh Powder and Clearing Skies

Unfortunately the trail conditions deteriorated after the first mile. We ran into a couple short stretches of road that were only covered by a dusting of snow. We pushed on, even as my snowmobiles were churning up gravel. The snow improved again as we neared the terrible traverse. The traverse was great, but soon we found bare gravel road again. We pushed on for about a mile until the snowmobiles got warm. We let the sleds cool off and walked up the road a little farther, hoping to see more snow. We didn't and decided to turn around and head back to where the snow was better.

Not Enough Snow in Spots     John Relaxing While the Snowmobiles Cool Down

We ran into a couple other snowmobilers on newer Polaris sleds who had also turned around. We found better snow and played around for a bit in between talking with a couple different groups of skiers and snowshoers. We found a good spot to safely shoot my Kel-Tec .380 and popped off 60-70 rounds.

Deeper Snow Near the Terrible Traverse     Jason Enjoying First Snowmobile Trip of the Season

Even with the poor snow conditions we still had a fun time. It was great to get back on the sleds. I look forward to many more trips once the snow pack increases. Until then, I'll have to stay on foot.

Gear List

Osprey Variant 37 Pack
HighGear ATF8 Altimeter
Petzl TIKKA XP 2 Headlamp
Olympus Tough TG-1 Camera
Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Max Electric Boots
Head Outlast Waterproof Ski Gloves
Head Digital Sport Liner Gloves
Columbia Sportswear Men's Triple Trail Shell Jacket
Columbia Men's Echochrome Ski Pants
Triple Star Packable Down Hooded Jacket
Smith Phenom Turbo Fan Rx Goggles
GMAX GM76X Helmet
Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Snow Shovel
Kel-Tec P-3AT .380 Auto
Columbia Men's Fast Trek Fleece Hat
First Aid Kit
iPhone w/NeoTreksGPS
Suunto A-10 Compass


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Disclaimer: You are responsible for informing yourself of the hazards of backcountry travel and taking the necessary precautions. Loomis Adventures may not be held liable.