Snowmobiling Near Jean Lake and to Bonney Meadows

After a couple days of rain in the mountains, the snow level came back down and a few inches of fresh snow fell around Mt Hood. I wasn't sure if there would be enough snow to snowmobile, but my friend John and I decided to chance it and head up to Bennett Pass on Saturday. The SnoPark at Bennett Pass is about 9 miles East of Government Camp, Oregon across from Mount Hood Meadows ski resort off Hwy 35. It is often the only SnoPark around Mt Hood with enough snow to snowmobile this early in the season. Later in the winter it gets too steep, but becomes popular with backcountry skiers and snowshoers.

We left Portland around 7 AM and arrived at Bennett Pass SnoPark around 8:30 AM. Unlike Monday, the lot was clear of snow and there was a camper parked with a snowmobile nearby. There was less snow than Monday (maybe 6-12 inches) and more tire tracks on the trail. We were still hopeful there would be more snow up higher. We unloaded the snowmobiles and set off down the trail toward Jean Lake.

Snowmobiling on Bennett Pass Road with Mt Hood in the Background     Fresh Snow Near Mt Hood, Oregon

We ran into a thin stretch of trail (about a half mile) where we were churning up gravel. To add insult to injury we also came upon a downed tree across the road. It was about a foot in diameter and took us 15 minutes to cut with my little hand saw. I definitely need to bring a chainsaw next time. After passing the downed tree, the snow became deeper just before the "terrible traverse." We continued on past the junction to Bonney Meadows to above Jean Lake and Badger Lake. We saw a fresh elk trail cross the road toward the lakes.

Lots of Snow Up Higher Near Jean Lake     Badger Lake

The snow was 12-18 inches deep up high, so we figured we would continue on toward Lookout Mountain. We assumed since we would slowly gain elevation the snow would be at least as deep, but we were wrong. We started hitting gravel again. It was more exposed and I assume most of the snow had been blown away off the trail. We turned around and rode down to Bonney Meadows.

Jean Lake     Taking a Break at Bonney Meadows

We started a small campfire and enjoyed lunch while admiring the snow-covered meadow. It was very quiet and the weather was nicer than on Monday. There still wasn't enough snow to really ride out in the meadow so we headed back to Bennett Pass SnoPark after lunch.

Frozen Creek Through Bonney Meadows     Frozen Grass in Bonney Meadows

There were a couple more vehicles in the parking lot when we arrived back and the trail was getting worse for snowmobiling. The forecast isn't looking that promising either with predicted snow levels above 7,000'. I just wish winter would come and stay for a while.

The video below is of the ride back from Bonney Meadows to Bennett Pass SnoPark.

Gear List

2013 Polaris 800 Switchback Assault Snowmobile
2008 Polaris 700 Dragon RMK Snowmobile
HMK Summit V16 Pack
GMAX GM76X Helmet
Smith Phenom Turbo Fan Goggles
Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Max Electric Boots
Columbia Men's Echochrome Ski Pants
Columbia Titanium Hightail II Softshell Jacket
Columbia Triple Trail Shell Jacket
Triple Star Packable Down Hooded Jacket
Head Digital Sport Liner Gloves
Outdoor Research Ambit Gloves
Columbia Men's Fast Trek Fleece Hat
Petzl TIKKA XP 2 Headlamp
Olympus Tough TG-1 Camera
Sony Action Cam HDR-AS15
Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Snow Shovel
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.