Every late fall and early winter we talk to people that are either excited for the coming months or wondering how they are going to survive them. These discussions typically lead to me encouraging folks to stay active and enjoy this magical time of the year. Hiking through the woods on a pair of snowshoes is one of my favorite things to do and is an excellent way to stay in shape and burn tons of calories.
DIRO Outdoors takes a lot of groups and families snowshoeing across the Twin Cities and surrounding communities. Each year we get lots of questions around this awesome activity and I wanted to take a moment to answer the most common questions we receive so you can better determine if this is something you want to try. They are:
Snowshoeing is a great activity for almost everyone. It requires no special skills or training and is intuitive to most people. My favorite saying is, "If you can walk, you can snowshoe." It's true!
Snowshoeing can be a lifetime activity for those that love to experience the outdoors in the winter. As soon as kids are able to walk confidently in a little snow with their boots, they are ready to give it a try. Manufacturers make great kid specific snowshoes just for them and they are relatively inexpensive and easy for them to learn to walk in. For older folks snowshoeing can still be enjoyed as long as you are somewhat physically fit and able to walk on a hiking trail. We routinely have people in their 70's join us and we all have a blast.
Snowshoeing can be a great form of exercise and an excellent way to burn a ton of calories in a short period of time...but it doesn't have to be. No matter your fitness level, you should be able to give snowshoeing a try. The key is to match your fitness level with the terrain, your pace, and the type of snowshoeing you are going to do. There are two main types of snowshoeing:
Walking on snowshoe trails consists of hiking on an established route that is often traveled by many. As a result, the snow is somewhat packed down and the path is well defined. This makes snowshoeing much less strenuous and is great for those both physically fit and those that are not. Bushwhacking is when you blaze your own trail through virgin snow. Depending on the depth of the snow and the snow conditions the effort level can vary greatly. Regardless, you'll burn a lot more calories and generate more body heat when you go off trail. Throw in some hills and a quick pace and you'll really be burning those calories. Start out with a relatively flat snowshoe trail and a moderate pace to get a feel for how your fitness is and build from there.
Most snowshoes have excellent traction that makes walking even on ice no problem. As a result, slipping typically isn't a great concern. I've seen people trip over their snowshoes when just starting but it's pretty uncommon as well. For those with balance issues or those that prefer to feel more stable as they travel through the woods, using trekking poles may be the answer. They are essentially ski poles that you use while hiking. They can provide greater stability and even make hiking less strenuous. However, most of the folks we bring out that try them, give them back about half way through our hikes. They don't like having them in their hands for an extended period. Carrying a backpack where you can store them when you need a break can be a great option.
That's it! It's easy, fun and something everyone needs to try. It's a great way to experience all that Mother Nature has to offer, is great exercise, and helps those cold winter months fly by. If you have additional questions, please post below and we'll answer them in short order.
Where's your favorite place to go snowshoeing?
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