Mush On! Oregon Sled Dog Races

By Kyla Merwin - Posted on 05 January 2011

Photo: Visit BendPhoto: Visit Bend2011 marks the 50th anniversary of sled dog racing in Oregon. Races have been held all across our diverse state, from Lake of the Woods to Mt Hood, Joseph to Newport and an array of locations in between. Over the years, mushers from throughout America and British Columbia have made the trek to compete on Oregon’s wilderness trails.
The real athletes are the dogs, of course. While a few teams remain true to the traditional Malamutes or Siberian Huskies, the majority of teams are comprised of a husky/hound mix, bred for speed, endurance and a pleasant temperament. Their enthusiasm is infectious and undeniable; they are doing what they love to do.
Photo: Travel Southern OregonPhoto: Travel Southern OregonFor spectators, the races offer wonderful thrills and unique opportunities to see mushers and their dogs in action. In Chemult, even the kids get involved with a Peewee race: One kid, one sled, one dog in a 25-yard dash just for the thrill of it.

Eagle Cap Extreme
January 5-8
Ferguson Ridge Ski Area, Joseph

The Eagle Cap Extreme is a 100 mile eight dog team race and a 200 mile twelve dog team race that, among other things, acts as an official qualifier for both the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest races. The race runs through the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and Wallowa-Whitman National Forest adjacent to the Eagle Cap Wilderness.
Both races (run concurrently) start at Ferguson Ridge Ski Area, just east of the town of Joseph. The 100-mile race runs on the Imnaha River to the Ollokot Checkpoint (50 mile mark) where the teams have a mandatory 6-hour layover; then returns to Ferguson Ridge Ski Area. The 200-mile race follows the same trail for the first 50 miles then continues on and loops around back to the Ollokot Checkpoint (100-mile mark) where the teams have a mandatory 6-hour layover. Following a similar trail, they return to Ferguson Ridge Ski Area for the finish. MORE INFO
See OPB's "Oregon Field Guide" video of the Eagle Cap Extreme:

Frog Lake Sled Dog Race
January 8-9 and February 26-27
Mt. Hood

Races include PNC 6-dog mid distance, 8-dog sprint, 6-dog sprint, 4-dog sprint, 2 dog advance skijor, recreational skijor, and juniors. MORE INFO

Chemult Sled Dog Races
January 15-16
Walt Haring Sno-Park, Chemult

Races include mid-distance, 8-dog Sprint, 6-dog sprint, Skijor Pro, 4-dog sprint, novice, skijor recreational and junior sled. Peewee races will be held in the starting chute immediately after the final races.
Spectators are welcome at the event, admission is free. Please leave the pet dog at home; the racing dogs don’t need any distractions from their task at hand. A food concession in on site and there are special events for the kids including a snowman making contest, a coloring contest and a Peewee race: One kid, one sled, one dog in a 25 yard dash just for the thrill of it. MORE INFO

Experience the Next Level
January 29
Walt Haring Sno-Park, Chemult

PSDSA sponsors a fun run meant to help new mushers learn what to expect from, and how to prepare for, race day. There will be a real starting chute, timers, race officials and experienced racers to help beginners plan their activities the day of the race and make it to the starting chute on time with a smile! MORE INFO

Bachelor Butte Dog Derby
March 4-6
Wanoga Sno-park, Bend/Sunriver

This is an opportunity to experience the splendor of the Cascade Mountains and contest one's dog team on world class terrain. The courses will be challenging and the classes offered somewhat nostalgic.
Courses include a 4.25-mile short course, 9-dog 9 mile course, 9-mile advanced skijor race, a middle distance course is 22.5 miles, and a distance course of 175 miles that guarantees ample challenge to mushers and their teams.
With the right weather mushers will enjoy views of Bachelor and the Cascades from every angle. The course includes trails in the Bachelor and Three Sisters system, with switchbacks, a tour through the high country and Triangle Buttes, and inbound and outbound summits of Kwolh Butte. The idea of this race is to encourage mushers to make a transition to distance dog driving. MORE INFO

Sources: Pacific Sled Dog and Skijor Association, Cascade Sled Dog Club and Eagle Cap Extreme.


For a more fanciful report on our four-legged friends, see
Fashion Goes to the Dogs. Serious gear and fun gadgetry.