It is not uncommon to see the city of Boston hibernate during the winter months–especially when the snow starts to fall and the temperatures drop. Why not embrace the winter months though? Snowshoeing is the perfect way to explore the outdoors without having any kind of special skill. Rent a pair of snowshoes and poles, bundle up with a mug of hot chocolate and take to the trails for a fun day of exploration. Here are our five daytrips for snowshoe beginners in the Boston area.
5. Harold Parker State Forest
Only 25 miles north of Boston, this 3000-acre forest is a hidden gem and the perfect daytrip for the snowshoe beginner. The trails here are wide and offer gentle rolling hills that allow beginners to get comfortable with their snowshoes.
With 35 miles of trails that are all marked on the state forest map, getting around the park proves to be simple. Visitors can discover 11 frozen ponds, forests of white pine and a beautiful landscape of scenery. You will have to bring your own snowshoes along for this trek and one can easily enter the park from a few different ways. For the beginners feeling a little adventurous this is the perfect place to go off the trail and explore the backcountry as you are never far from a main road that criss-crosses the property.
4. Weston Ski Track
The next beginner daytrip on our list is Weston Ski Track, located just west of the city. This spot is perfect for the snowshoer looking to get an early start on the season as Weston has some of the finest snowmaking capabilities and offers the chance to trek through the white stuff before the real snow has even fallen.
The 15km course offers different trails, tracks and the opportunity to take your snowshoes off the courses and explore. Snowshoe rentals are available on-site as well as lessons. If you plan on spending the day here it is recommended you bring a picnic and find a nice quiet area along the trails.
The great part about Weston Ski Track, once you tire of snowshoeing strap on the Nordic skis that are also for rent and have a go at that winter sport. With its groomed tracks, man-made snow and short drive from the city consider Weston Ski Track as your next daytrip for any beginner snowshoer.
More info here: http://www.skiboston.com/skitrack/snowshoeing.php.
3. Weir Hill
The perfect trail awaits beginners at Weir Hill, a 1.9-mile loop located near North Andover. Weir Hill is great for the family that is heading out on snowshoes for the first time, along with their furry friends that are allowed off-leash. This peaceful trail is only used by a handful of dog walkers and snowshoers in the winter time and therefore there are no crowds to fight or worry about showing up early.
Breathtaking views of the surrounding hills, woodlands and lake make this easy trail serene and beautiful. For a little more exercise and challenge, try taking the trail that leads straight up the hill. Four miles of trails run through the park so prepare to spend at least a few hours discovering them all. Pack a thermos of hot chocolate, load your snowshoes up and discover the prefect quiet beginner daytrip.
Find out more here: http://www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/northeast-ma/weir-hill.html.
2. Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge
Located about an hour northwest of the city Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge is a favorite daytrip amongst any level of snowshoer. The refuge surrounds the Nashua River and encompasses over 1,700 acres of protected land and water.
A two-mile loop trail is located near the main parking lot and we suggest starting with this one. Well placed benches to rest, views of the river and the crossing of two oxbow ponds combined with the flatness of the terrain make it the ideal trail for beginners. Home too many species of endangered wildlife and numerous types of habitats, visitors will want to keep their eyes peeled for the countless animals hiding in the shadows.
Trail guides are available at the information kiosk to help you on your way. The Esker Loop trail, which is in the process of being developed as a self-guided trail, provides the more exploratory trekkers with a slightly harder terrain to navigate. Discover the beauty that awaits you just outside the city in the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge.
Learn more here: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/oxbow/.
1. Blue Hills Reservation
Ample free parking, clean restrooms, only 30 minutes outside of Boston and a variety of trails to try out are just a few of the reasons why Blue Hills Reservation is a great choice for a daytrip for snowshoe beginners.
More than 125 miles of trails criss-cross through this urban oasis offering spectacular views of the city and wonderful scenery. Beginners like to start off with the two-mile loop trail that leads them to the historic weather observatory where more experienced snowshoers can enjoy the nine-mile Skyline Trail. This area is popular for guided snowshoe hikes and for something special meet up for a nighttime trek where the stars shine bright above with the Boston skyline in the distance.
More information is available here: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-south/blue-hills-reservation.html.