Skiing is great, but zooming down a hill isn't the best way to take in breathtaking winter landscapes. That's why snowshoeing is such a rewarding activity.
Smugglers' Notch, VT (courtesy image)
A great way to enjoy the winter landscape is to go snowshoeing. When I zip downhill on ski runs, the surrounding woods seem a blur. Snowshoeing forces me to slow down enough to savor the scenery. I pause to admire the icicles that lace the pine trees and to look for deer tracks in the snow. There’s something special about meeting nature freely, without the din of motorized vehicles or the dizzying speed of fast equipment.
Snowshoeing offers several other pluses: no costly equipment is needed (rentals are inexpensive) and there are no essential techniques to master as in cross-country skiing. Modern snowshoes no longer feel awkward and klutzy. The light-weight equipment makes strolling atop the snow easy. The sport, one of the few without a frustrating learning curve, comes almost naturally. If you can walk, you can snowshoe. Even kids as young as 5 enjoy the forest on their first foray with these “magic” shoes that move as easily as they do.
Where to go snowshoeing? Anywhere there’s enough snow. Take a day off from the slopes on your ski vacation to go snowshoeing or follow cross-country trails through state and national parks as well as follow trails at some ski resorts. As always, check the conditions to make sure there’s enough snow.
Here are some good places to snowshoe:
Smuggler's Notch, VT (courtesy image)
This top-rated family resort also makes room for snowshoeing. Along with offering downhill, cross-country, and snowboarding lessons to kids and adults, Smugglers’ Notch features 24 kilometers of dedicated snowshoe trails at their Nordic Center. On their weekly Snowshoe Adventure Dinner, explore Sterling Mountain, dine in a warming hut and trek to the base camp on snowshoes.
Located in the Humbolt/Toiyabe National Forest, the Hope Valley Center is about a 40-minute drive from Heavenly Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe. Snowshoe on 60 miles of trails that wind you through woods and along a river.
Yellowstone National Park, WY (courtesy image)
Snow blankets the park in winter. Put on your snowshoes to easily maneuver the paths that lead to the park’s famous geysers and hot springs or go on a guided snowshoe tour. The park’s naturalists as well as private outfitters lead snowshoe hikes to observe the wildlife.
Explore the scenic West Virginia countryside at Canaan Valley Resort. Known for its downhill skiing and snowboarding, Canaan Valley Resort also features 30 kilometers of marked but ungroomed trails and snow-covered meadows, perfect for snowshoeing. Après snowshoeing, glide on the ice skating rink, or slide down the hills at the new tubing park.
At Canyons Village, part of Park City ski resort, you can snowshoe through woods thick with snow-dusted Aspen trees and along a snow-covered lake on group and private outings. One tour leads you through the forest to a cabin where you admire the view as you eat lunch.
Have you ever gone snowshoeing? What are your favorite snowshoeing spots? Comment below or connect with me on Twitter, @familyitrips.