Snowshoeing is the fastest growing winter recreational activity in North America, and with good reason – it’s a great way to enjoy our long Canadian winters while getting in a fantastic workout.
Whether a relaxing snowshoe hike on the trails or an exhilarating, heart-pumping snowshoe running race, it’s easy to see why more and more Canadians are choosing snowshoeing as their favourite winter pursuit.
Aside from the beauty of being out on pristine trails, and the health benefits of snowshoeing, it’s surprisingly easy to do too. A good pair of quality snowshoes is worth the investment as they will enhance your enjoyment of the sport with better durability and higher performance. Unlike skis, there is no need to tinker with wax for different snow conditions, you simply strap them to your shoes or boots and you’re on your way.
Hiking snowshoes have a large surface area that allows you to stay afloat in deep snow. If you plan to snowshoe run or race, then a specialty pair of running specific snowshoes are a wise choice as they will be a fraction of the weight and much smaller, which allows for a much more natural running stride.
It is surprisingly easy to learn the activity. When running, there are minor differences with the added weight of the snowshoes and with the slightly wider stance that you need to take, but whether hiking or running in snowshoes, the learning curve is very short so the entire family can enjoy it right from the first outing.
Many parts of Canada have long winters with ample snow, so finding the right conditions is not usually a problem. Sometimes conditions switch back and forth between perfect powder, to wet snow, to icy conditions. This is where snowshoes excel as they are very versatile and as long as you have a moderate amount of snow on the ground, you should be able to get out in most winter conditions.
Snowshoeing is considerably less expensive than most other winter sports, making it a good choice for an affordable family activity. You can snowshoe anywhere that has snow, including local parks, trail systems, conservation areas, and even golf courses. Basically, you can make your own trail with snowshoes, so just get out there and explore!
While there are unlimited places you can snowshoe, the following are some of our favourites.
It’s probably one of the most snowshoe friendly regions of the province. Parc de la Jacques-Cartier, Vallée Bras-du-Nord and the Sentiers des Caps are vast areas where snowshoers can really realize why they were used in the early day’s of Canada. Winter camping is also available there. Snowshoe running is very present. 4 events are held in and around the city such has the Pentathlon des Neiges (Plaines d’Abraham) and the Mammouth! winter races offering one of the rare snowshoe marathons in North-America, just next to the Montmorency Fall’s.
For fantastic snowshoe trails, head to any of the local mountains, such as Seymour or Cypress. Grouse Mountain offers the snowshoe grind, a 4.3 km route which can get you strong for the grouse grind season.
The largest metropolitan region of the province offer’s many trails, even in the heart of the city on the Mont Royal. But for longer adventure, drive north in the Laurentides region When you take that first step in freshly fallen snow, from that moment, you know you will have to come back for the gentle silence, the immaculate white shroud, the vivifying air and the incomparable decor of the Laurentians. It is a true Quebec snowshoe paradise. The Eastern Townships also have its share of nice snowshoe trails.
Frontenac Provincial Park is located just north of Kingston, Ontario and is one of the gems of Ontario Parks. It features a trail network of over 100 km of trails through rugged Canadian Shield. You’ll cover a wide variety of terrain and pass numerous back country lakes during your snowshoe hike or run. Frontenac Park also is host to the annual Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race held each January. Day passes are available, but you can purchase a winter pass or annual pass and have unlimited access to all of the different trail opportunities for snowshoeing within all Ontario Provincial Parks.
Snowshoe running is best on the mountain bike or dirt/gravel trails all along the river valley, providing plenty of options throughout the city. The Silver Skate festival holds an annual snowshoe race in February.
La Mauricie National Park is located near Shawinigan, in the Laurentian Mountains. It covers 536 km² in the southern Canadian Shield region bordering the Saint Lawrence lowlands. Experience the joys of winter and explore the Laurentian landscape through a unique experience offered by La Mauricie National Park. Here at the park, snowshoeing remains a great way to hit the hills and discover breathtaking viewpoints.
There are a number of trails and parks that offer good snowshoeing, such as Nose Hill Park. Near Calgary are many options in the mountains, such as Kananaskis, Bragg Creek and in Banff, where Cascade Mountain is great snowshoe route.
For more information on snowshoeing and snowshoe running, please visit SnowshoeCanada.com. Article original posted on http://getouttheremag.com/articles/4008/winters-coming-time-to-snowshoe-canada.
By: Derrick Spafford
Derrick is an avid snowshoe runner, and series coordinator for the Dion Eastern Ontario Snowshoe Running Series (HealthandAdventure.com). Derrick is also on the Board of Directors of the newly-formed Snowshoe Canada (SnowshoeCanada.com). The mission statement of Snowshoe Canada is, through fitness, competition and fair play, to provide a safe and friendly environment for all, and represent the sport at Provincial, National, World Championships and ultimately the Olympics.