Cost: Back country trails are free to use, but there is often a fee to use maintained trails (typically $5 to $10) and if you need to rent snowshoes for the day, add another $10 to $20. Some mountains offer fun group snowshoe events that include hot food, hot chocolate, or other perks for various prices.
Time: As long as you like – there are many of different trails, some of which can be completed quickly and others that take longer.
Difficulty: Difficulty varies depending on trails selected. Most mountains provide trail maps that grade maintained trails from easy to challenging. As for walking in the shoes themselves, most people find them a little awkward when they first put them on, but get used to them quickly.
- This is a fun outdoor activity that can accommodate all fitness levels.
- Many people with knee problems find snowshoeing easier than other forms of exercise because the shoes lock the leg in place, keeping the knee from twisting.
- Snowshoeing is a way to socialise or be alone with your thoughts while enjoying fresh air, exercise, and gorgeous views.
- Snowshoeing provides more intense exercise than walking, which means that you can get a decent workout, especially if you go uphill (though there are plenty of flat trails for those who want a gentler option).
- People tend to be in a great mood on the mountains, so the atmosphere is positive.
- You can bring your dog on many of the trails, and most dogs really love snowshoeing (check in advance to make sure the area is dog-friendly – most snowshoe trails are, but there are restrictions in a few places).
- Most snowshoes have a lot of fiddly straps, which can make it time consuming to get the shoes on and off.
- On nice weekend days, there are often lineups for snowshoe rentals (though they tend to move quickly).
- The activity is getting quite popular, and maintained trails can become crowded on busy days. This is great if you’re feeling sociable and want to make new friends, but not so good if you’re seeking a private communion with nature.
- Walk with your feet a bit farther apart than usual to avoid stepping on your shoes.
- Dress in layers if the weather is unpredictable – on warm days, I’ve seen people snowshoeing in tank tops; on other days, everyone is more comfortable in full snow gear.
- Invest in a good pair of snowshoes with risers if you want to do steeper hikes.
- Wear sunscreen on sunny days – the sun’s effects are more intense when it bounces off the snow.
- Bring a thermos of hot chocolate, tea, or coffee – it will taste better than usual on the mountain.
- Go during off-peak times and days if you want peace and quiet; go during peak times if you want to make friends (bring a friendly dog if you really want to meet people).
For more activity descriptions, visit the main Activities page.
All photos in this gallery are copyright of Jennifer Copley.