The winter months can feel long, especially if you don’t stay busy or get out and enjoy what the snow has to offer. Are you looking for a winter activity that’s fun and easy to learn? Maybe you are tired of skiing or skating and want to try something new; snowshoeing might be the perfect fit for you.
We will tell you everything you need to know about snowshoes and some of the best places to go so you can plan a snowshoeing trip.
What Is Snowshoeing?
Even if you live in an urban area, far from snowy mountain terrain, you have probably seen people wearing snowshoes at a local park or even around your neighborhood after a heavy snowfall.
Snowshoes have a long history that dates back to thousands of years. While the first snowshoe, also known as the “shoeski” dates back to 4000 BC and was made of a solid piece of wood.
Snowshoes evolved to make it easier to walk on deep snow without sinking, and most snowshoes were made with wood and animal hides, todays are made of nylon, neoprene, and aluminum.
For centuries, snowshoeing was an essential way to get around, especially for hunters, traders, and some indigenous tribes, but today it’s a favorite recreational sport just like skiing or ice skating.
Why Is Snowshoeing So Popular?
One might wonder the appeal of strapping on a pair of snowshoes and walking on deep snow. Unlike other winter activities, renting or even buying a set of snowshoes is relatively inexpensive and you don’t need much equipment other than the shoes and maybe a set of poles.
It’s also become more popular because it provides an excellent opportunity to get outside and enjoy the winter weather and even explore places you can’t otherwise get to because of deep snow.
Snowshoeing is a great way to exercise, and it can burn up to 1,000 calories per hour; it’s also a gentler form of exercise despite the heavy cardio. Since it’s a relatively easy winter to learn, people of all ages and fitness levels are able to put on a pair of snowshoes and do some hiking in the snow.
Even though the risk of injury is low, you can prevent an injury and some aches and pains by making sure that you do proper stretches before heading out on your snowy hike.
Choosing Your Snowshoes
If you’re unsure if snowshoeing will become your new favorite winter activity, you should think about renting a pair of snowshoes or see if you can borrow some from a friend. Many cities have outdoor outfitters that rent out equipment and host events and guided tours; check to see if you can try out the winter sport that way rather than buying the equipment right away.
Once you decide that you’d like to own a pair of snowshoes, there are a few things to consider when selecting the right equipment. Think about the type of terrain that you’ll be hiking around on as this will help you pick the right type of snowshoe.
Flat terrain snowshoes are ideal for beginners and are designed for walking on flat or rolling terrain. If you’re planning on hitting the hills or heading out to varied terrain, rolling terrain snowshoes are a better option. If you’re interested in hiking on icy and steep terrain, mountain terrain snowshoes are the best.
Even if you’re unsure of where you’ll be going, flat or rolling terrain snowshoes are usually the perfect type for most snowshoers.
What To Wear
Many people wonder what to wear when snowshoeing; the key to comfort is layering. Since the weather may change and you’re likely to work up a good sweat, it’s essential to stay warm, dry, and comfortable.
Your base layer is what touches your skin, and these are typically long underwear or tights. Choose fabrics that are lightweight but will retain warmth and wick away sweat. Synthetics and wool are good options, and while cotton is comfortable, it doesn’t stay dry.
An insulating layer, such as a fleece jacket that can be removed easily is an excellent option for your next layer. Your outer layer should be waterproof and windproof, and good examples of this are snow pants and a lightweight shell jacket.
A hat, scarf or neck gator, and gloves are all “must have” accessories but make sure you can store them in a jacket pocket if you take them off. Sunglasses will make it easier to see where you’re going, especially since the bright snow can be a little disorientating and sunscreen is always important.
Keeping Your Feet Warm
Unlike downhill or cross-country skiing, you don’t need special footwear when wearing snowshoes. The best boots for snowshoeing should be insulated and waterproof with thick soles. Hiking boots may work too as long as they are waterproof. Wool socks are the ideal type of sock to wear, and gaiters can help keep your boots dry as you snowshoe.
Before You Plan Your Trip
Now that you have all the gear you need, you might be anxious to start planning a trip. Before you decide where you want to go, you want to take a little time to make sure you know some of the basic moves of snowshoeing; this is where taking a quick course or attending an event might be helpful.
It’s best to practice around your neighborhood, in a nearby park, or on some of the groomed trails in your community. Even though it gets easier, the more you snowshoe, it’s best to have a little practice before you go on a trip.
Some Of The Best Places To Snowshoe
One of the great things about snowshoeing is that you can do it anywhere and you don’t need to travel far to have a good time; wherever there’s snow, you can snowshoes. Depending on where you live or where you want to go, you may even be able to snowshoe in early Spring (it’s all about how much snow is on the ground).
If you want to plan a winter getaway and take your snowshoes along, here are some places that are definitely worth visiting.
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
These days Colorado is as popular to snowshoers as it is to skiers. If you’re thinking about snowshoeing in Colorado, you have several opportunities and Glenwood Springs is just one of them.
Hanging Lake trail is a 1,000-foot climb, and while the scenery is worth the hike to the top, it’s also steep and slippery. If you don’t have the right type of snowshoes or you’re just a beginner, you may want to explore other areas of Glenwood Springs.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
If you head to Steamboat Springs there are many places to snowshoe and Rabbit Ears Pass is one of the most popular trails to hike. Whether you want to pave your own way or snowshoe on a groomed path, you have plenty of options in Steamboat Springs.
If you feel more comfortable hiking around in the snow on a groomed trail, you can check out one of the Nordic Centers in Colorado.
Lake Tahoe is a hotspot for skiers but did you know that you can do a lot of snowshoeing in Tahoe, too, and spend a lot less?
If you are a beginner and just want to get a little practice or a warm-up in before your longer hike, check out the snowshoe trails at Donner Memorial State Park. You can snowshoe to Donner Lake or into the Coldstream Canyon.
If you want to work up to a bit of a challenge, Tahoe Meadows may be a great destination. With a view of Lake Tahoe and a mix of terrain, you can start out slow and challenge yourself a bit.
Moonlight guided excursions are also available for snowshoers who want to experience the winter sport in a whole new light.
Just like Tahoe, Mt. Hood is a popular destination for skier and snowboarders but snowshoeing at Mt. Hood is gaining in popularity. Since Mt. Hood gets lots of traffic, don’t be surprised if you notice a little congestion on some of the snowshoe trails; don’t worry, there are plenty to hike.
Frog Lake is located at Mt. Hood and the Clackamas River Area in Oregon. The snowshoe trails are wide and relatively flat, which are great for beginners or children. The trail is also dog-friendly. As long as you’re in the area, check out another easy-going trail, Glade Trail, that’s located near Government Camp.
While we’ve just given you a few of the best places to snowshoe, head anywhere that there’s snow and have an adventure. For your safety and enjoyment, always make sure that the area is available for snowshoers and the difficulty level is not far from your skill level.