Snowshoeing

Quick tips on snowshoeing in general, a bit on how-to, and some safety tips to keep you on the trail and having fun.

Everyone knows about all the activities you can do outside during the summer, those are easy. However, in the winter, sometimes you have to get creative. Snowshoeing is one of those activities that can be fun on a gorgeous, sunny day. It helps you extend your hiking or running into the cold seasons, and let’s face it, we all get lazy in the winter. And, comparatively, snowshoeing is cheaper than many of the other winter activities you could choose. My goal here is to give you some quick tips on snowshoeing in general, a bit on how-to, and some safety tips to keep you on the trail and having fun.

Shoe prices can run anywhere from around $50 to just under $300 depending on your budget and your preference. The size of your snowshoe is going to depend on how much you weigh. If you’re not sure about which length to choose, ask someone in the store, they should be able to help you decide which the best shoe is for you.

There are different kinds of snowshoes. There are recreational hiking snowshoes that are generally recommended for first time uses or novices. These are good on the tame terrain, nothing too steep or dangerous. There are also aerobic/fitness snowshoes that are good for rolling terrain, really any terrain except the steepest hills, and more suited for active snowshoers. The hiking/backpacking shoes are for those people that consider themselves experts, who are looking for the challenging areas to hike and want to blaze their own trails. Decide which category you fall under, and find your snowshoe!

For footwear, the most popular seems to be a waterproof hiking boot with wool socks, or any material sock that will wick away water but still keep your feet warm. Although, if you’re going to be running with the snowshoes, track shoes are the recommended shoe. Another recommendation stated that snowboarding boots are ideal for snowshoeing. Again, be smart and be aware of where you’re going and what weather you’re going to be in.

Another piece of equipment you can take along is poles. Many people use poles to help when trekking through the snow. They can help with balance and when you’re crossing hills. They also help you get back up when you take a tumble. Also, keep a small backpack with you for extra layers, new socks, water bottles, energy bars, and whatever other supplies you feel necessary to bring on the trail with you.

What to wear is really paramount, as with any winter outdoor activity. And when I say paramount, I definitely don’t mean fashionable. Layer up. Your first layer should be something synthetic or wool. These types of material can get wet, but still keep you warm, and many of them will wick water away from your skin so that you don’t catch a chill. Your next layer should be something that is insulating, fleece is always a good choice here. Your last layer should be your outer layer, and that should be something waterproof, breathable, and should keep out the wind. While your other layers will still keep you warm if they get wet, you should really try to avoid that. Layers are the easiest way to ensure that you maintain your body temperature when you’re outside adventuring. And, if you get too hot, you can always start shedding layers; just make sure that they stay dry. And I’m going to mention it, but I do believe, dear reader, that this is obvious; hats and mittens! You lose a good portion of your body heat through the top of your head, so keep it covered. And, no one wants frostbite, so gloves or mittens are a must.

As to where to go snowshoeing, if it has snow, you can probably snowshoe there. Be smart about it, however. If you want to snowshoe on a lake or a pond, but it’s early in the season, make sure you check that the ice is safe for you to be on. For beginners, cross-country ski trails are usually a good place to start. Make sure that you are aware of other people on the trail, and if at all possible. Make your own track beside the trail. The Moosehead Lake Region offers a few places with groomed trails. Lily Bay State Park keeps its parking lot plowed so that you can access the trails more easily. NREC, or the Nature Resource Education Center has trails behind the Visitor’s Center in Greenville that are easily accessible as well. Be smart about where you’re snowshoeing and heed the following safety tips when headed out.

Some safety tips for you to take with you on the trail.

  1. Don’t snowshoe alone.
  2. Stick to established trails or populated areas when you’re a beginner.
  3. Be aware of the weather and any changes that might occur throughout the day. The more aware of the weather, the better able you are to be prepared for it.
  4. Dress for the conditions. Always layer, waterproof on the outside, and something that wicks away water close to your skin.
  5. If you’re going to go off the trails, make sure to bring a map, compass, GPS, or even a cell phone to help you if you get lost.
  6. Pack smart. Pack extra layers, including a base layer.
  7. Stay hydrated.

Snowshoeing is considered a low-impact, aerobic exercise and is definitely something your whole family can enjoy. Come see us in the Moosehead Lake Region and try out our trails!

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