If you love being outside during summer but choose to stay inside all winter, you’re missing out.
Many people think that winter is the best time to be outside, and with good reason. In winter, there’s no bugs, no oppressive heat, no crowds, and you are treated to a peaceful, beautiful wintry landscape.
One of the best ways to enjoy winter is by snowshoeing. Not only is snowshoeing fun, but it’s great exercise and easy to do. All you need are a pair of snowshoes.
Here are a few tips to help you on your first snowshoeing adventure.
Start small. You may be a fast hiker, but snowshoeing taxes your muscles differently than ordinary hiking. You may go slower and become exhausted quicker than you expect. If it’s your first time snowshoeing, start off with a short, easy trail to get the feel for it. Also, don’t wait until you are tired to start heading back. Save plenty of energy for your return trek.
Check the weather. Winter weather can be volatile, especially here in the Northeast. You don’t want to get caught in the wilderness by a surprise snowstorm or a downpour of freezing rain. Always check the forecast before heading out.
Dress in layers. Snowshoeing is a strenuous activity, and you’ll likely find that you feel warm when moving. You may be comfortable removing your jacket and snowshoeing in a long-sleeve T-shirt, hat and gloves. But once you stop, you’ll get cold fast and need to layer up again. Also, a day that might feel warm can change in a hurry when you’re climbing in elevation or are suddenly exposed to wind. Conditions change, so be prepared by dressing in layers.
Bring food and water. Staying hydrated is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer. Also, you’ll burn a ton of calories snowshoeing and will work up an appetite. Bring good food to refuel.
Always carry a map, light and firestarter. The footprints you make in the snow can give you a false sense of security. While you think you can just follow them back if you get lost, it is still very easy to get turned around and confused in the woods. Always carry a map with you. You should also carry a flashlight or headlamp, even if you only plan to be out in the day. You may go slower than you expect and find yourself still out when darkness sets in. Also, always carry a firestarter such as a lighter or waterproof matches.
Carry a wildlife tracking guide. One of the best things about the outdoors in winter is you get to see wildlife tracks that you normally wouldn’t see in summer. To help identify the tracks you see, bring a wildlife book or pocket guide.
If you’re looking for some ideas on where to go snowshoeing this winter, try some of these trails: