After finding ourselves in beautiful Montana during the height of winter, one thing was obvious. If we wanted to engage in any outdoor activities, they would necessarily involve snow. We went snowmobiling and that was a bit loud. We considered cross-country skiing but just couldn’t muster the enthusiasm. So we found ourselves with the opportunity to try snowshoeing for the very first time. We imagined lashing giant tennis rackets to our boots and slogging through snowdrifts up to our knees.
What we discovered was one of the most refreshing, relaxing, and unforgettable experiences nature lovers like us could easily enjoy. Snowshoeing is one of those activities, like golf, that you can do pretty much at any age, and with a little bit of preparation and planning, will create many new memories of winter pleasure. Here are some of our favorite reasons to try snowshoeing this winter.
1. Low Cost
Unlike some winter activities, snowshoeing ranges from relatively inexpensive to downright cheap. If you want to give it a go to see how you like it, you can rent snowshoes that fit right onto your winter boots and a pair of hiking poles in the range of $30. If you fall in love with it, you can purchase a snowshoe kit with poles, snowshoes, and a carrying case for as little as $70.
Of course, you can get very fancy and buy your own snowshoes, if you like. But we got ours, which are very serviceable, for $69 from our local Costco warehouse. It’s easy to learn what to look for in snowshoes. You can also look for a used snowshoe set, which will save you even more. Just be sure that what you get is appropriate for your size and experience.
2. Easy To Do
Contrary to our original beliefs, snowshoeing is easy to do. Basically, you wear your regular winter boots and gear, strap them on, and go. We like to wear winter pants like a windbreaker over our jeans, to keep from getting wet if it is snowing while we’re out. Essentially, it’s the same as walking. You just have to put one foot in front of the other. Many parks maintain trails that are equipped to accommodate snowshoers. You may want to do a little practice with the poles to be sure you use them effectively. Some people use the same pole as the leg they extend while others prefer to use the alternate to give them a little more help balancing.
As far as we’re concerned, there are no hard and fast rules. Do what’s easiest and best for you.
3. Enjoy Nature
One of the things we loved so much about our first snowshoeing adventure was how close it made us feel to nature. You don’t hear the buzzing of a motor or have to focus too much on form. You just walk along in whatever place you’ve chosen and look at the trees, listen to the birds, and see the glistening snow all around you. Of course, you want to be alert and not run into stray branches or logs that pop up along the way.
But once you get started, you’ll find most of your attention goes to enjoying nature because the process of leisure snowshoeing doesn’t require much effort. It’s a great way to enjoy the gorgeous scenery we so often zip by when we’re doing something else that is faster. The journey is the destination when it comes to snowshoeing.
4. Moving Meditation
Because snowshoeing is such a natural activity, it frees your mind to drift onto other things. We find ourselves thinking of snowshoeing as moving meditation, a time where our bodies can be gently in play while our minds are able to relax. Depending upon your approach to stillness, mindfulness, inner peace, and meditation, you can focus or defocus your mind as you please. Immerse yourself in the beauty of your surroundings or focus on each step or each breath.
Some people even do yoga on snowshoes. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself less concerned with the worries of the world and more alert to the peacefulness and lovely landscape around you. Snowshoeing can offer a great way to relax.
5. Safe Socializing
Another great thing about snowshoeing is that it can be done outdoors and at a distance from everyone. These days we’re all looking for ways to maintain our sanity while maintaining our distance. Snowshoeing is ideal for being alone or being alone together with others. You can find trails that have many branches offering different levels of challenge, different lengths, and different scenery. We’ve been on short steep trails, long straight trails, and winding and hilly trails with views of valleys, rivers, lakes, and mountains.
It’s fun to go snowshoeing and later compare notes with others, even if you don’t actually talk along the trail. You can choose to chat or immerse yourself in a personal experience, whichever is right for you.
6. Good For Many Levels Of Activity
Snowshoeing is much like walking. You can go for a leisurely stroll or a serious bit of exercise. You can choose a trail that challenges you with rises in elevation and steep parts or just follow along a flat trail that you can amble and enjoy while looking at all of the lovely scenery around you. Whether you are older or younger, want to raise your heart level considerably or just get a dose of fresh air, snowshoeing allows you to find the experience you seek.
We love to go birdwatching, so sometimes, even if we’re on a relatively challenging trail, the sound of birds will attract our attention, causing us to stop and pull out the binoculars. We may not get as much of a cardio workout that way, but we also spend far longer on the trail, stopping to enjoy the birds and the picturesque views, so in the end, it probably works out about the same way.
7. Perfect For Traveling
Another great reason to try snowshoeing this winter is that it's something you can do almost anywhere there’s snow. If you’re planning a road trip, you can toss your snowshoes into the back seat. For longer trips, you can pack them or find rentals at a reasonable cost. Sometimes when we just want to explore different parks, we check to see where snowshoeing is allowed and try out new trails in familiar areas. A park you walk around in the summer looks quite different in winter. We love discovering new views, frozen lakes, and occasional wildlife popping up in spots that feel quite different when they’re covered in snow.
8. Night Time Fun
Some places, like Wisconsin, love snowshoeing so much that they plan special activities for snowshoeing at night. We have been to some beautiful nighttime snowshoe events where luminaires along the sides of the trails give off a warm and lovely glow all along the way. Other places have trails with full lighting at night, so you can feel as though your snowshoeing during the day even though the stars are shining in the night sky above. Sometimes events are planned that include various activities like walking, snowshoeing, skiing, and skating in the same large park.
At the end, you might find a hot cider or cocoa with the fixings for s’mores by a fire just waiting for you to enjoy. Check the current calendar where you’re interested in snowshoeing to see if they offer any nighttime snowshoeing fun and for all the latest information.
A final reason to try snowshoeing this winter is that it is a highly sustainable activity. Snowshoeing doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment. You snowshoe on a trail (or off, if you are ambitious and properly trained) and when you’re done, you leave nothing behind. It doesn’t require any gasoline, oil, or electricity. It doesn’t require cleaning forests or destroying habitats. But snowshoeing is not only sustainable for the environment; it’s sustainable for people as well.
Because you can easily adjust the level of exertion by the trails and duration you choose for your expeditions, people can snowshoe for as long as they can walk. Youngsters with more energy can snowshoe with vigor, while those of us who want to take it easy can enjoy a pleasant amble on the snow. It’s really a great way to enjoy the outdoors with an entire family with multiple generations where each will have fun while not burdening the others. We plan to enjoy snowshoeing ourselves for a long time to come.
Snowshoeing is an outdoor activity that is inexpensive, easy to do, highly portable, and fun for all ages. We can’t wait for the snow so we can explore our favorite old places and discover some that are new. These are a few of our reasons to try snowshoeing this winter. We hope you’ll be able to find even more of your own!
Don't forget to pack the snowshoeing essentials! Check out our top picks below: