You hear a lot about skiing this time of year, but have you considered snowshoeing with your family? This scenic, easy-to-do winter activity can be fantastic fun and has many benefits to offer. Why your kids may like it even more than hiking. How to stay warm while snowshoeing in a frosty forest. And why this sport just may help you fall in love with our coldest season.
The past two years, my family has started snowshoeing during the winter months. We first discovered this past time after the realization that the snow gets so deep on our nearby Grand Mesa in Colorado, you literally can’t maneuver without snowshoes. There are so many beautiful outdoor areas that we missed exploring when winter made them seem inaccessible. We began merely counting the days until the Spring thaw.
But after trying snowshoeing as a family, we’ve discovered how much there is to love about this fun winter activity. Ages 5 and 10, it’s easy and enjoyable for my kids. We all get exercise and fresh air. And the best part is, now that we have the gear… it’s free!
Here are seven reasons I think your family will love snowshoeing.
If I’m out in the wilderness, I don’t want to be surrounded by people. Colorado draws outdoor lovers from all over the world. In summer on the most popular trails, you may find people hiking 50 feet in front of you, and people hiking 50 feet behind you. Annoying.
This is rarely the case when you are out snowshoeing. Perhaps it’s because it’s great exercise, which is an added bonus for you. Spending an afternoon in the outdoors doing something active definitely takes a little initiative. Especially for mom, who gets the extra burden of packing all the warm clothing and snacks. But a little extra effort yields large rewards.
The beauty and peaceful quiet of the forest in winter will take your breath away. “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it”… right? Well, it’s not that snowshoeing is hard. But again, it admittedly takes effort to get yourself and your family out there.
But the payoff is the pure bliss of uncrowded beauty.
No Pressure to Be An Athlete
It’s easy! And not scary! Let’s just say when I hit the ski slopes, it’s often accompanied by a case of the nerves. And I don’t think I’m the only one.
Not so with snowshoeing.
You don’t have to worry about having started your kids out snowshoeing at the appropriate age. No concerns that it’s been over 20 years since you strapped on some snowshoes. It’s like walking. You ok with walking? You’ll be fine.
Safe Winter Fun
With this gentle sport you aren’t going to hit a tree at high speeds, or be plowed into by another speeding snowshoer. No need for a helmet when snowshoeing. Ever the overprotective mom, I love snowshoeing because of the low risk of injury.
If the area boasts deep enough snow to require snowshoes, you’re literally surrounded by a cushiony blanket of snowflakes.
One of my kid’s favorite things to do on our family snowshoe adventures is to drop and make snow angels. If you’ve got insulated waterproof clothing on (which you should), a snowbank can mold to your exact body shape and make a very relaxing resting place.
Kids Like It Better Than Hiking
We are an outdoorsy family that goes hiking often. Sometimes these adventures are fantastic, and other times it’s like pulling teeth to get my kids to hike a trail. Not so with snowshoeing.
It must be the “playing in the snow” factor. This adds a level of excitement for kids and apparently makes snowshoeing more entertaining. I’ve learned (much as I had to do when hiking with young kids) that it’s not going to be about making linear progress. We let them stop and mess around. How can they not… when there’s SO MUCH FLUFFY SNOW?
No Chills (I Promise)
Hate being cold? Me, too.
It’s important to dress properly. Wear layers, with a base that is technical and will dry quickly (polyester or nylon, not cotton). Cover your heads. Don’t do what I did last time out and wear a pair of snow pants from 15 years ago, that are now too tight in the waist. Yeah, that’s not fun. God help you find a good pair of gloves or mittens that will stay on your young child. I recently purchased fleece neck gaiters for each of us for around $5 each, and they might be the best thing that’s ever happened to us.
I can promise you that we’ve never once felt cold while snowshoeing. The reality is, it’s cardio! And unlike skiing, where you have down time to catch the chills while you wait in line or ride the chairlift…. this is slow and steady activity. Your core stays warm, you stay warm.
The Trails are Free!
No $100+ per person lift ticket for this sport.
Once you’ve got a set of snowshoes, you’re all set. The price of a mid-range pair of new adult snowshoes averages $100-250. My family wears Tubbs Snowshoes, which makes child through adult sizes, and we’ve been happy with how well they grip and stay strapped on to our snow boots.Check into buying a used pair if you’d like to save some money. Renting snowshoes may be a good option, to try out the sport before investing in the gear.
I feel the best part about snowshoeing is all the awesome places you can explore. Trail systems abound in areas where summer hiking or 4×4 off roading are popular. In winter, these same paths become cross country and snowshoeing trails accessible to the public. There are often available maps, and trails are typically marked along the way.
Appreciate Winter Once Again
Scraping ice off our windshields and shivering uncontrollably as we walk to our cars does not help us appreciate winter. Although I love living somewhere that experiences a change in weather for all four seasons, I’ll be the first to admit that winter is not my favorite. Snowshoeing can be a great way to embrace this colder season.
You just may find yourself having that exquisite moment. You’re in a gorgeous forest… the trees and hills are laden with a brilliant blanket of snow. There’s a crystal blue sky above, and your kids are giggling and stomping about. And you’ll see the beauty of winter once again. Discover you can actually enjoy it. Maybe even love it a little.
Having active outdoor time is so beneficial for kids, but that can be a challenge when the temperatures drop. Let these reasons your family will love snowshoeing inspire you to get out and give it a try.