If you love to be outside but don’t really know what to do with yourself where there’s snow on the ground give snowshoeing some thought.
Snowshoeing has a lot going for it
- It’s fantastic exercise
- It doesn’t require much equipment
- It’s not expensive
- It doesn’t require special skills
- It’s outside in the fresh, crisp air
- It’s peaceful and quiet
- Access is everywhere
If you tend to be cold when there’s snow on the ground, get moving. You will be amazed at the amount of heat you generate when you snowshoe…it won’t be enough to power a village, but you should layer when you go out until you know how to regulate your temperature, so you can shed and add layers as necessary. You don’t want to sweat in the cold, and when you stop you will cool off fast, so if you are not used to exerting yourself outside in the winter, it may require some trial and error to dial it in.
All you need to snowshoes is snowshoes, and some type of footwear that you can wear in the snow. Poles will likely be helpful, but even their necessity depends on what type of snowshoeing you are doing. Poles making hiking up and downhill a lot easier. They brace your gait giving more balance and stride efficiency. But if you are snowshoe running (yup, it’s a real thing) or trekking around golf courses, they may not be necessary. As with most other things, there is a wide variety of quality across the available equipment. You can get $40 snowshoes or $400 ones, but most of them are going to fall closer to the $100-$200 range.
Snowshoes come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the type of terrain you want to tackle. Some are better for flat areas and packed snow, some for steeper grades, and there’s the whole in between that will do a little of everything.
As long as you are able to walk the terrain you plan to snowshoe, you should be able to snowshoe there. Granted it is more physically taxing than just walking, and walking up steep terrain can be tricky, but basically speaking, if you can walk without them, you should be able to walk with them. The biggest threat when snowshoeing is probably stepping on one shoe with the other. That will likely result in a face plant. But if you are falling in soft snow, just make a snow angel while you are down there, laugh it off and keep on going.
Snow is quiet…even if you live in the city, you can find refuge snowshoeing. We live near a park in the city, and when you get into the trails there you feel a quiet solitude and when you get to the top of the hill you are reminded of your proximity with quite the vista of downtown. You get to be outside in the crisp, winter air, and you can get away from everything without even having to go far.
There is access everywhere! There are many hiking groups, meetups, etc that can help you learn where to go. And you can find clinics to learn how to use the equipment. Many ski resorts have snowshoe trails at their Nordic centers and rent gear there. Be careful about trekking on cross-country ski trails. The track they set is different, and the shoes wreck the track, so using those trails is prohibited in some areas and frowned up on in many others. Some golf courses allow snowshoeing. And many hiking trails are fair game. Just check before you head out anywhere that could be an issue, and if hunting is allowed in your area, don’t forget your safety orange garb.
Given the low barriers of entry- low price, minimal equipment, and no special skills required- it is an excellent activity for the whole family. You can see new places from a different perspective while getting outside and getting some exercise. Those are all great things.