Snowshoeing is easy to learn and is an inexpensive way to get the entire family outdoors in the snowy winter months. You may not be the only ones making tracks. You’ll discover animal tracks in the snow that you won't see any other time of the year.
For novice snowshoers, shorter, well-marked trails with gentle slopes make for a great first experience. Many state parks and local recreation areas offer designated trails for snowshoeing and they may be groomed, or packed for ease of use. Organized candlelight snowshoe events can be a fun, family outing or romantic date night. For the more adventurous trekker, county, state and federal forests are generally open for snowshoeing on seasonal trails and roadways, and for off-trail excursions. State Scientific and Natural Areas (SNAs) are another unique option for those looking for a path less traveled.
Throughout northeast Minnesota, you’ll find lodging options to complement your sense of adventure. Whether you choose a cozy resort cabin in the woods, a charming B&B, or a fun yurt, you won’t be far from a place to try out your snowshoes.
If you’re new to snowshoeing, consider renting equipment so you can learn what size and type of snowshoe works best for you. Snowshoes can range from traditional, hand-made wood frames, lightweight aluminum, to modern gear designed for running. Equipment can often be rented at a modest cost from resorts, B&Bs, ski and recreation areas, state parks, outfitters and even some retailers. A set of trekking poles can be useful if you want an upper body workout, or you think you may need some extra balance support, but many people find snowshoeing as easy as hiking and don’t use them.
Dress for the outdoors in comfortable, heat-trapping layers and include a wind-blocking outer layer if conditions call for it. Winter boots or hiking boots with a waterproof outer layer, and socks made of wool or wool/silk blend will keep your feet dry and comfortable. Most snowshoes will have adjustable bindings to accommodate a variety of sizes of footwear. If you plan to go off-trail into deep powder, a pair of ankle gaiters can help keep snow out of your boots.
Showshoeing in cold weather can be a great workout that burns lots of calories. Consider bringing a light backpack with bottled water, snacks, a GPS and trail map, headlamp or flashlight–and for sure, a camera to capture the natural scenery and wildlife you’ll see in northeastern Minnesota.
Before you know it, you just might be registering for a snowshoe marathon, or taking a week-long trip on the North Shore for a build-your-own snowshoes workshop.