If you have friends who are other winter enthusiasts, you may have heard complaints about how “boring” snowshoeing is to them. Well-meaning friends will try to tell you that other activities are more exciting, or easier, or faster. They may say that snowshoeing is just too much work tromping through the snow. And I once believed all of that, too.
Well, I have to say that all of the thoughts I believed about snowshoeing are all myths! After all, snowshoeing is very similar to hiking, and for many of us, hiking isn’t boring (at least, I certainly don’t think it is). Why would hiking in winter be boring just because you’ve added snow?
Perhaps we should stop comparing snowshoeing to other winter sports and embrace it for what it is – a different sport with its own rewards and appeal.
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“Boring” Snowshoe Scenarios
Below are a few scenarios where I’ve heard people say (or thought to myself) that snowshoeing is boring. As a note, these scenarios are enjoyable for some snowshoers since everyone is different. But, to give an idea of where I’ve heard the myth that snowshoeing is boring, I’ve presented them below as examples.
Scenario 1: You choose a groomed, hard-packed trail and track set for skiers. You watch the skiers pass you and wonder to yourself, “Why am I going so slowly?” You get to a picnic bench or turn around spot and walk back down (while skiers zip past you, yelling at you to get out of their way.)
Scenario 2: You leave your sled at home. Why would you need a sled? You tell yourself that you are perfectly capable of carrying a backpack, and the kids can walk too! A sled is just extra gear you’ll have to drag along.
Scenario 3: You choose a trail with no particular scenery or objective. You won’t summit a ridge or mountain, you won’t reach a lake, and you won’t see anything other than trees. But that’s ok because this is good exercise. Right?
Have you ever heard someone list one of the examples above for not wanting to snowshoe?
Fun Snowshoeing Scenarios
If you have heard or thought of any of the examples above as “boring,” there is hope! You can try the following scenarios to add some extra fun to your snowshoeing outings.
Freshly fallen snow is the key to snowshoeing fun, especially if you get to break your own trail. For hard icy trails, you can use ice cleats such as the Yaktrax Summit or Kahtoola Microspikes. For groomed trails, especially if you want to go fast, you can try cross-country skiing.
Bring a sled, crazy carpet, or some other slippery object.
Why? So that you can slide back down to the car. Why walk when you can fly and glide down the trail? After all, walking down the hills is one of the big reasons why some people may think snowshoeing is boring.
A sled is especially important with children because you can motivate them to get to the lake, viewpoint, or day’s objective with a promise of a sled ride down. Here are a few tips on how to use a sled when snowshoeing.
- Attach your sled (like this one) to your backpack for the ascent, bring a lightweight crazy carpet, or attach a long rope to the sled and pull it behind you.
- If you will be using a sled on the descent, it is recommended to bring a helmet for twisty steep terrain. You don’t want to fly into a tree and hurt yourself.
- If you have young kids riding in the sled and the trail is steep on the way down, always guide the sled ahead of you rather than pull it behind you. It will just hit you in the backside if you pull it. Guide it down first as you steer it with a long rope (see photo.)
Choose a trail that is interesting and rewarding.
Hike up to a ridge top or easy summit. Hike to a beautiful lake and play games on the ice (more games at the end of the story.) Or, even choose a trail that follows a creek with fun little bridges.
This tip also is true for difficulty level. If you choose a too difficult of a trail or not difficult enough for your activity interests, you may not enjoy it. But, by choosing a trail that you think you’ll enjoy (scenery and activity level), you’ll most likely have a fun experience.
Whether with kids or not, games are an excellent way to stay entertained on the trail.
If you are traveling with kids and they’re bored, perhaps it’s because Mom and Dad are not having fun. It may not be that the activity of snowshoeing is not fun. So instead, bring treats, play games, laugh, tell jokes and stories, be FUN. If you are having a good time, the kids will have a good time.
Here are a few games to try on the trail.
- Hide and Seek – Play while moving forward in the direction you are hiking. For example, the kids must run up the trail before finding their next spot to hide. Watch the miles fly by.
- Horse Rides – The names we have given to pulling kids uphill with our hiking poles. Trust me, it works!
- Fun kids’ games such as Red Light Green Light, Duck Duck Goose, What time is it Mr. Wolf, or Simon Says. My favourite is “What time is it, Mr. Snowman?” (instead of Mr. Wolf) with variations such as it’s one bunny hop, two arctic seal slides, three penguin waddles, four polar bear crawls… – and the game can be played while hiking.
- Bring a soccer ball (or something similar that is perhaps not white) and play snow soccer.
- Bring a small football and take turns throwing it up the trail. Keep playing in the direction you are hiking.
- Various games of tag, including pie tag – Build a big pizza in the snow, and the kids have to chase each other around the lines that mark the pie slices. Or make a big snow maze as in the photo below and run around it playing tag.
In addition to all of the above scenarios to make snowshoeing fun and not have a boring outing, here are a few more suggestions.
- Backcountry tobogganing and sledding – find a hill at your destination and have fun sliding on it.
- Make a snow quinzee or fort for the kids to play in
- Build a snowman, make snow angels, have a snowball fight
- Bring firewood in with your sled and hike to a backcountry campground with fire pits for a marshmallow roast.
- Bring a Strider Balance Bike with ski attachment for preschoolers and toddlers on the way down (attach it to your backpack on the way up)
Next time, if you hear someone say “snowshoeing is boring” or if you’ve thought of it yourself, try some of the suggestions above on your next outing. By trying new conditions, trails, and games, you can alter the sport to your interests and may find your next favorite sport!
What about you? Have you ever thought that snowshoeing is boring? What activities and suggestions do you have for fun activities while out hiking and snowshoeing in winter? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
This article was originally published on December 8, 2014, and updated to include new information on March 8, 2021.