Snowshoeing in Denver gives residents and visitors the chance to experience places they wouldn’t see otherwise during this time of year. The city is bursting with trails that range from beginner to expert that allow you to get out an explore the unknown. For the beginner snowshoer this may seem like a daunting task so below we have chosen our five best day trips for beginners to get you started. Bundle up, grab your snowshoes and discover the possibilities that await you near this great city.
5. Rocky Mountain National Park: Bear Lake Trail
The Rocky Mountain National Park is breathtakingly beautiful in any season. From the stunning fall colours in the autumn months to the shimmering lakes in the summer to our most favourite season, the winter months where the park is transformed into a winter wonderland.
For the snowshoe beginners the trails around Bear Lake offer stunning scenery and short and easy trails that allow you to break in your new snowshoes. Prepare to dress in layers as the wind often whips across Bear Lake and can cause quite a chill. Starting at the Bear Lake Trailhead snowshoers can choose to snowshoe around the lake or head in to the woods up to Nymph Lake.
While the trail around Bear Lake is flat and easy, the trail up to Nymph Lake offers a gentle climb. Break your own trail, follow the well-marked path and don’t forget to bring your snowshoes and bundle up for this amazing beginner hike located just outside of Denver. Learn more at http://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm.
4. Mount Evans: Echo Lake
A closed road often offers the perfect snowshoeing trail for beginners. Smooth, flat and well marked are all important factors when starting out in this sport. The road to Mount Evans at Echo Lake offers a gentle slopping hill with plenty of opportunities for you to become “one” with your snowshoes.
Parking is available near the gate and don’t forget to pay the entrance fee to the park. Choose to either head straight up the road or veer off to the left about 50 yards up the road and explore the back side of Echo Lake. The second option is somewhat more sheltered from the wind and therefore tends to be a little warmer for the beginner.
The road up to Mount Evans is North America’s highest paved road and beginners can safely ascend 2.5 miles up without risk of avalanche. Bundle up, strap your shoes on and go out and explore this beautiful beginner trail. Find out more at http://clearcreekcounty.org/trails/.
3. Jones Pass Trail
Although slightly more difficult than the previous trails mentioned, Jones Pass near Empire, Colo., is still considered a comfortable trail for advanced beginners to explore in the Denver area.
Parking is available at the Henderson Mine Gate where you can strap on your snowshoes and head on your way. We highly suggest sticking to the road as there are many paths that lead off the marked trail and the snow can get deep and steep. The descent from the top of the pass can also be steep and this is not a trail for the first time snowshoer.
The stunning winter scenery of the bowls along with the thick blanket of snow that covers the towering evergreens is enough to have every trail blazer begging for more. Home to a variety of winter sports lovers, be sure to watch out for zooming snowmobiles and the snowcat machine that takes up backcountry skiers. A comfortable but long hike up the pass, breathtaking views and the chance to take in this spot with others who appreciate it as much as you makes Jones Pass Trail our number three choice in our top five list of beginner snowshoe day trips in Denver.
2. Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Just a short 45-minute drive from Denver takes you to the spectacular Golden Gate Canyon State Park: an excellent area for the beginner snowshoer to try out the trails. With 12 trails covering more than 35 miles this park offers well marked paths, gentle slopes and incredible views of the surrounding mountain peaks.
The visitors center is a great place to start and offers clean restrooms and knowledgeable staff that will point you in the right direction towards the trails. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as lynx, snowshoe hare, birds and more.
A great place to start is the Horseshoe Trail, which leads you through valleys, forests and over wooden bridges as well as taking you past a log house from the 1800s. A great stopping place to warm up with a mug of tea from your thermos as you read about the history of John Frazer and his log cabin.
Take the Mule Deer Trail to reach the Panorama Point Scenic Overlook, a stopping point for many that has views of more than 100 miles of the Continental Divide. Pack a thermos, your snowshoes and venture out of the city to one of the best spots to try your hand; or should we say foot at snowshoeing.
1. Lost Lake Trail
To round out our last beginner snowshoe trail in the Denver area we head to the secluded Lost Lake Trail in the heart of the Indian Peaks Wilderness, near Nederland, Colo. The Hessie Trailhead is the official start to this trail but if you have a 2WD vehicle you will actually start about half a mile before the trailhead just west of the Eldora Ski Resort where the paved road ends.
A great outing for any skill level this trails allows users to enjoy a high-elevation mountain lake. Don’t let the high-elevation scare you off as this trail allows for a gradual climb with manageable elevation gains that won’t have you losing your breath.
Although this trail is ungroomed it is used by Nordic skiers and snowshoers all winter long and beginners won’t have a problem following the path. Expect to spend around three to four hours on this trail depending on how long you plan to stay at the lake. With views of the mountains, frozen waterfalls, footbridge crossings, a few steeper hills and scenic lake views the Lost Lake Trail is an excellent starter trail for the beginner snowshoer.
Find out more at http://www.trails.com/tcatalog_trail.aspx?trailid=SGR022-009S.