The sport of snowshoeing has been around for thousands of years. While the origin and age of snowshoes are not precisely known, historians believe they were invented 4,000-6,000 years ago and they probably originated in Central Asia. The art of snowshoeing has become more sophisticated as it has evolved. It’s now considered a winter sport! From the original wood-frame models to today's aluminum-frame models, snowshoeing has come quite popular. Today people who snowshoe do so for pleasure and for sport. Whether you strap on your snowshoes and trek through the glorious winter backcountry or compete in races, you're getting an amazing workout! It burns more calories than walking, running, or cross-country skiing at the same pace. So grab your snowshoes and head out for some wintertime fun!
There are basically three different types of snowshoes for three different uses.
•Flat terrain: Perfect for beginners or families, choose this style if you're sticking to flat ground.
•Rolling terrain: This is a multipurpose style, great for rolling hills to steeper inclines. Just don't use these on steep or icy ground.
•Mountain terrain: Strap these on when heading out onto icy, steep terrain.
Choose footwear based on your activity, such as climbing, backpacking, walking, or running.
•Always a good choice, wear waterproof boots that are insulated.
•Waterproof leather hiking boots work too.
•Choose wool or synthetic socks for moisture wicking protection.
Layers are important when snowshoeing so that you can take off and put back on clothing according to your internal temperature.
•For a base layer, choose synthetics and wools. Long underwear is a great choice.
•Wear a mid layer of polyester fleece. This keeps you warm even when it gets wet with sweat but it also breathes.
•On the outside cover yourself with a waterproof, breathable shell jacket and pants that'll keep the winter winds out.
To ward off frostbite and protect your eyes, don't forget these accessories.
•Hat: Choose a wool or synthetic hat.
•Gloves/mittens: Choose warm and waterproof to protect your extremities.
•Sunglasses: Wear sunglasses or a hat with a brim to protect your eyes from UV rays that are reflected off the snow.
Poles are an Individual Choice
Poles come in handy (clever pun!) on steep terrain and they take snowshoeing as a workout to a new level by engaging your upper body as well. While not necessary, they're nice to have.
Use your toe or instep crampons for traction as you climb a hill. Poles should be in front of you, held firmly in hand, and your feet should be planted steadily. Widen your stance to secure yourself.
When coming down, use poles to brace you as your body weight will naturally go forward (downhill). Just like when hiking down a hill, it helps to lean your body weight backward (up the hill).
Side Step It
Tackle a super steep hill by taking it on sideways. A walk straight down a steep hill can quickly turn into a tumble, but it can be avoided by turning sideways and moving down the hill this way instead.
Great Places to Snowshoe
There are many great places to try out snowshoeing. Head out to your city, state, or national park to try it out. Once you feel comfortable, you might want to try hiking trails or areas devoted solely to snowshoeing like these listed here:
Northeast: Lake Placid and the Adirondack Mountains of New York; The Green Mountain Range and Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Southeast: The Appalachian Trail and Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia
Midwest: The Northwoods Region of Minnesota/Wisconsin; the Duluth, Minnesota area; and Lakewoods Resort on Lake Namakagon in Cable, Wisconsin
Rocky Mountains: Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, Colorado; Snowbasin Resort in Ogden, Utah; and Salt Lake City/Park City areas of Utah
Northwest: Mount Hood in Oregon; and the Lake Tahoe and Mt. Shasta regions in California
Southwest: Flagstaff, Arizona.