Looking for winter wonderland views that make you stop in your tracks and say, “Daaangg”? Then it’s time to plan an adventure to Jefferson View Shelter in Sisters, Oregon.
As a winter romanticizer myself, I’ve done my fair share of cold-weather adventuring around Central Oregon and can confidently say that our morning spent touring to Jefferson View Shelter remains my favorite activity to date.
Depending on the weather conditions the shelter can be reached via hiking boots, microspikes, snow shoes, cross-country skis, or touring skis.
Located in the Upper Three Creek Sno Park, just minutes outside of the quaint town of Sisters, Oregon, this shelter offers sweeping views of the Three Sisters Mountains, a cozy wood-burning stove to warm your body, and solitude away from the crowds.
In this guide, I highlight what to expect when adventuring to Jefferson View Shelter, how to obtain a permit, getting to the trailhead, what to pack, and more.
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How to Get to Jefferson View Shelter in Sisters, Oregon
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Upper Three Creek Sno Park to Jefferson View Shelter Trail Stats
Distance: 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 702 feet
Time: 2-3 hours
Things to Know Before Visiting Jefferson View Shelter
Three Creek Sno-Park Permit
A permit is required to enjoy the trails within Three Creek Sno-Park (Upper and Lower) from November 1st to April 30th.
There are three different kinds of Sno-Park Permits:
- 1-Day ($4.00)
- 3-Day Consecutive ($9.00)
- Annual ($25.00)
To purchase both a 1-day or 3-day Sno-Park Pass. you must visit one of these vendors to pick up your permit in person.
Additionally, if you’re purchasing an annual pass you may do so in person or online. You can obtain an annual Sno-Park Permit here. For more details and helpful information regarding Sno-Park Permits, visit the Oregon.gov website.
FYI – American the Beautiful Park Passes do not cover entrance at Sno-Parks.
Sno-Park Trail Etiquette
One of the most amazing things about adventuring to Jefferson View Shelter is all the different ways you can access it.
The trail is open to hikers, snowshoers, cross-country skiers, and ski tourers. When visiting Jefferson View Shelter, keep the following things in mind:
- People traveling downhill have the right of way due to speed. This is counter to traditional hiking etiquette. When you spot a traveler coming downhill, step aside.
- Do not hike or snowshoe on the groomed skin track or ski track. If hiking or snowshoeing, walk to the side of the trail to preserve the track.
Getting to the Trailhead
Upper Three Creeks Sno-Park is located 18 minutes outside of downtown Sisters. If traveling from Bend, the drive will take roughly 50 minutes.
From W Cascade Avenue, turn left onto S Elm Street. S Elm Street becomes Three Creek Road, which later becomes Three Creeks Lake Road, and eventually turns into NF-16.
You remain on this road for 9.6 miles until you spot the sign for the Upper Three Creek Parking Lot.
Do not turn into the Lower Three Creeks Parking Lot, which you will come to first. Instead, continue past it until you see the Upper parking lot turnout (which also marks the end of the road).
The Jefferson View Shelter Trail begins just near where the road dead ends. We followed the cars and parked towards the back of the lot before realizing the trail began at the front.
There are vault toilets located in the Upper Three Creeks Parking Lot.
After using the restroom facilities, make sure to firmly close the door to help prevent snow drifts and ice from accumulating in the bathroom.
What to Expect Hiking to Jefferson View Shelter
We arrived at the trailhead just after sunrise and were greeted by a handful of other cars in the parking lot.
The Upper Three Creeks Parking Lot also serves the nearby snow-mobile terrain. While we weren’t the only ones in the parking lot, we were happily surprised to find the trail (and hut) empty.
The trail to Jefferson View Shelter begins at the parking lot entrance just past the gate after the dead end.
Rather than snowshoeing, we skinned the trail to the hut and settled into the skin track immediately.
The trail is peaceful and as you cover more ground the trail and views only get more mesmerizing.
While the Upper Three Creek Sno Park to Jefferson View Shelter Trail isn’t particularly difficult or steep, the elevation does steadily climb. Prepare to gradually gain elevation for the entirety of the trail to the hut.
The further you progress towards Jefferson View Shelter the more frequently you’ll stop to say, “Oh my gosh, are you freaking kidding me?!”
The Cascade Mountain Range is on full display with stunning glimpses of different mountains around every bend.
The trail fluctuates between sections of dense forest and sweeping wide-open plains.
While reaching Jefferson View Shelter is the end goal, make sure to take your time, soak in the endless views, and appreciate winter for the magical season that it is.
The moment Cole and I laid eyes on Jefferson View Shelter, we looked at one another and said, “Let’s come here every day.“
The hut is charmingly quaint and situated at the base of the picturesque Three Sisters Mountain Range.
The shelter is protected from the elements by a large tarp. The tarp is secured across the opening via a set of bungee cords to keep it in place.
To enter the hut, just unlatch the hooks and push the tarp to one side.
Inside the shelter, you’ll find everything you need to start a fire for the wood-burning stove. We brought our own lighter and firestarter just in case but were surprised to see everything needed was already provided in the shelter.
Pro tip: Pack a thermos of coffee and mugs along for the adventure so you can cozy up next to the fire and gaze out at the snow-covered mountains.
We remained at Jefferson View Shelter for what must have been almost an hour and never encountered another soul.
New favorite spot uncovered? Absolutely.
Reluctantly, we packed up our belongings, made sure the fire was merely smoldering and contained, and securely fastened the tarp back in place before heading back down.
We weren’t sure if we would have enough downhill slope to ski back to the car but we decided to give it a go anyway. Except for a few segments that required us to push, we had a blast cruising down the trail.
I am new to touring and managed the trail just fine — with that being said, it’s important to be able to control your speed and stop abruptly if hikers or skiers are coming up the trail.
While we had the uphill trail and Jefferson View Shelter all to ourselves, we did pass a handful of snowshoers and skiers on our way down.
Before heading out on any winter adventure, make sure to check the weather and snow report.
Apart from looking up the daily weather forecast before we hit the trail, we use Central Oregon Avalanache Center to stay up to date on snow conditions.
Never embark on a winter adventure without checking the daily avalanche report.
What to Wear and Pack for Jefferson View Shelter
As a previous downright winter loather turned winter lover, I’ve done my fair share of trial and error when it comes to finding the best winter hiking clothes for women.
Sometimes all you need to enjoy the dropping temperatures is the appropriate winter hiking clothes and gear.
While this list is an overview of the basics of what to wear and bring for your trek to Jefferson View Shelter, make sure to check out my full Winter Hiking Clothes for Women guide for all of your winter adventures this season.
First, you’ll want to have a trusty day pack.
For a winter day hike of this length, I recommend anywhere from an 18L to 30L pack. While for summer hiking I like to air on the smaller side so I don’t end up packing unnecessary items and therefore carrying unnecessary weight — for winter adventures like to leave myself more room for shedding or adding layers.
Whether I’m touring, snowshoeing, or hiking I always bring my trekking poles. They help with pushing, balancing, and navigating snow terrain tremendously.
I’ve used several poles over the years but these bright pink ski poles from Black Crows are my newest obsession.
Lastly, even if you don’t plan to be on the mountain past daylight, it’s always wise to pack a headlamp. As many of us know, things don’t always go as planned.
Black Diamond is my brand of choice when it comes to reliable headlamps.
When adventuring to Jefferson View Shelter in the winter, it’s important to layer your clothing. Dressing in layers allows you to shed or add them depending on the temperature.
Not to mention, the weather in the parking lot can be drastically different from the weather at the hut. Not to mention, winter conditions can change in an instant.
Base Layer Tops
I have several favorite base layer tops, two of which I’ve featured here: the REI Merino 185 Long-Sleeve Base Layer Top and the Kari Traa Else Half Zip Baselayer.
The REI base layer is a staple for my winter adventures. It’s warm, made of 100% wool, and is priced affordably.
The Else Half Zip from Kari Traa is my newest base layer this season and a fast favorite. It is also 100% wool, flattering, and flexible so you can stay warm and dry while adventuring in the cold.
Base Layer Bottoms
Both base layers are warm enough to keep me comfortable but light enough to keep me from overheating.
Outer Layer Tops
When choosing an outer layer for my winter adventures, I always look for waterproof and windproof jackets.
The REI First Chair GTX ePE Jacket is a great winter adventure shell. It’s light (perfect for layering), breathable, waterproof, and windproof.
My personal favorite winter jacket is the Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge coat. The jacket is warm but not overly bulky, and the GORE-TEX keeps me dry even in the wetest of conditions.
Outer Layer Bottoms
When choosing between insulated and shell bibs, keep in mind the average temperature in your area, the level of physical activity you’ll be doing most, and your personal tolerance level to cold.
Both beanies are made of wool which is crucial for winter adventures. The wool material allows the beanies to retain their warmth even if they get wet.
As for keeping my hands warm, I layer my gloves just like I layer my clothes.
Depending on the temperature, I wear the Smartwool Thermal Merino Gloves under the Outdoor Research Stormtracker Sensor Gloves. While it’s not always necessary to have them both on, I like knowing I can shed my outer layer gloves and just wear the liners.
The Stormtracker Gloves are constructed with a windproof and waterproof GORE-TREX fabric to keep my hands dry despite the conditions.
Lastly, the Upper Three Creek Sno Park to Jefferson View Shelter Trail is straightforward.
With that being said, when covered in two feet of snow it can be easy to get turned around. Not to mention, conditions change quickly on the mountain making it easier to get disoriented.
It’s always a good idea to have some sort of offline map or GPS tracking device before setting out on a hike. If you don’t have a GPS watch or device, I recommend downloading the trail from AllTrails.
I hope this guide was useful in helping you plan an epic winter adventure to Jefferson View Shelter.
If you have any questions about hiking to the hut, or other trails in the Sisters or Bend area, leave me a note in the comment section below.
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