Snowshoe Magazine https://www.snowshoemag.com The snowshoeing experience for snowshoers around the world: snowshoe racing, snowshoes, gear reviews, events, recreation, first-timers. Fri, 14 Feb 2020 20:41:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 28162661 Snowshoeing In Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/02/14/snowshoeing-in-algonquin-provincial-park-ontario/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/02/14/snowshoeing-in-algonquin-provincial-park-ontario/#respond Fri, 14 Feb 2020 19:23:49 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=95139 Canada is home to some of the best snowshoeing destinations anywhere in the world. Packed with historic parks, backcountry ski lodges, snow-capped mountain peaks, and plenty of gorgeous views, it’s a snowshoer’s paradise.  But Canada is a big place you … Continue reading

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Canada is home to some of the best snowshoeing destinations anywhere in the world. Packed with historic parks, backcountry ski lodges, snow-capped mountain peaks, and plenty of gorgeous views, it’s a snowshoer’s paradise.  But Canada is a big place you say! Where should you go? Well, if you’re tired of the same old trails and you’re looking for a new snowshoeing adventure, look no further than Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. You won’t be disappointed.

About Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

Established in 1893, Algonquin Provincial Park, located between Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River is the oldest provincial park in Canada. It’s also one of the most popular parks in the country and it’s easy to see why. Larger than the state of Delaware in the United States, it’s home to over 2,000 lakes, 805 km (500 miles) of rivers and streams and some of the best winter camping and snowshoe trails in North America. Not to mention the picturesque maple hills and an abundance of wildlife. 

Algonquin Provincial Park is about 300 km (186 mi) north of Toronto, Ontario and about 260 km (162 mi) west of Ottawa, Ontario, Canadas capital. This makes Algonquin Provincial Park a great destination for a weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city or for visitors that want to visit two of Canada’s most popular showcase cities.

Read More: Snowshoeing in Gatineau Park, Gatineau, Quebec

snowshoeing trails Algonquin Park, Ontario

Beautiful trails in Algonquin Provincial Park. Photo: Shutterstock/Hannes Deters

Snowshoeing In Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

Snowshoeing enthusiasts can go virtually anywhere in the park, presuming you are an experienced snowshoer. For beginners, it’s best to stay on marked trails. Please be aware though that not all areas are plowed during the winter, so please check the trail for winter access. Also, make sure to purchase your park pass ahead of time at the West or East gate of the park.

If you don’t have your own pair of snowshoes or poles, you can rent them at outfitters located outside of the park. Algonquin Outfitters offers adults and kids snowshoe rentals, as well as poles.

Interpretive Walking Trails

A great place to start your snowshoeing adventure at Algonquin Provincial Park is one of several interpretive walking trails. The Hemlock Bluff Trail (3.5 km, 2.2 mi loop), Bat Lake Trail (5.8 km, 3.6 mi loop), and Mizzy Lake Trail (10.8 km, 6.7 mi) are all moderate trails located in the plowed areas of the park. Each of these trails explores a specific aspect of the park and you can pick up trail guide booklets at the visitor’s center, open year-round. Check the events calendar for winter operating hours, as they may fluctuate.

Additional Snowshoeing Trails

Go snowshoeing on the Minnesing Wilderness Ski Trail, an ungroomed trail with 4 different loop options ranging from 6 to 32 km (3.7 to 20 mi). Alternatively, you can also explore the park’s vast network of portages, and the multi-use Old Railway trail, which follows the abandoned bed of the Ottawa, Arnprior, and Parry Sound Railway.

If backpacking overnight is your thing, check out the two longer overnight backpacking trails, Western Uplands Backpacking Trail and Highland Backpacking Trail. Each backpacking trail consists of loops ranging from 19 to 88 km (12-55 mi), respectively. The park plows the parking lots for both trails in winter. 

Read More: 7 Typical Backcountry Snowshoeing Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

fox in Algonquin Park

Gorgeous fox in Algonquin Park, Ontario. Photo: Shutterstock/Paul J. Hartley

Don’t Forget The Wildlife

For the animal lover, there’s plenty of wildlife to see at the park, including deer, moose, fox, and wolves. Though you might see more tracks than animals unless you’re an experienced watcher or it’s your lucky day. The park is also a popular bird-watching site. Several varieties of birds including ravens, chickadees, northern goshawks, purple finches, red crossbills, and Canadian Jays are frequently seen. Check out Algonquin’s birding report for the latest sightings and pictures and to learn more about the variety of birds found in the park.

The Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Opeongo Road, or visiting the observation deck at the visitor’s center are popular destinations for birdwatchers. You can also stop in the visitor center and strike up a friendly conversation with the knowledgeable park staff about bird and wildlife watching. They know all the best spots and even a few secrets I’m sure!

Read More: A New Found Passion: Wildlife Tracking & Identification

Winter Camping

Winter camping is permitted in Algonquin Provincial Park backcountry, which is accessible only by ski or snowshoe when the snow is deep. Just make sure you’re prepared prior to winter camping for the first time. Mew Lake Campground is open year-round with reservable campsites and sites open on a first-come-first-serve basis.

The campground also features seven yurts (tent-like structures with furniture and electric heat) available by reservation only. Plus, there’s a fully winterized comfort station, including laundry facilities on-site.

Electric hookups are available on most campsites. Furthermore, there’s even a skating rink with lights and a hot tent for the whole family to enjoy. Of little to no surprise, playing hockey is a favorite activity of many visitors that visit the campgrounds. This is Canada of course! The homes of the Maple Leafs and Senators are just a few hours away.

river in Algonquin Park, Ontario

Gorgeous river during a snowstorm at Algonquin Provincial Park. Photo: Shutterstock/ Saptashaw Chakraborty

Ensure you have more information about Mew Lake campground including the campground’s rules and regulations, nearby attractions, and a large map prior to visiting.

Visitors must have a valid permit to use the campground. Check for pricing and fees. With a valid permit, you can also winter camp in the park’s backcountry.

Read More: Tips & Tricks For Cold Weather Backpacking & Winter Camping

Getting To Algonquin Provincial Park

In the winter, the best access to Algonquin Park is along Highway 60 which travels across the park’s southwestern corner. Please prepare accordingly. There is very limited cell phone coverage in the area.

If you’re a regular visitor, you can also purchase a membership. Memberships are available for purchase through the park’s website. They have 4 different options that range from $15 – $25. Becoming a member offers you discounted rates at workshops, 15% off purchases at select park facilities, and updates on upcoming special events.

Go enjoy your time snowshoeing and exploring Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario! Please share your favorite trails in the comments below.

Read More: Snowshoe Friendly Nordic Center: Scenic Caves Nature Adventures, Ontario, Canada

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Maine Guide Snowshoes: The Real Deal https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/02/07/maine-guide-snowshoes-the-real-deal/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/02/07/maine-guide-snowshoes-the-real-deal/#respond Fri, 07 Feb 2020 16:57:05 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=94784 Companies with a real passion for their product can be hard to come by these days. However, recently, we connected with Maine Guide Snowshoes, and they are the real deal. Maine Guide Snowshoes not only has a passion for what … Continue reading

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Companies with a real passion for their product can be hard to come by these days. However, recently, we connected with Maine Guide Snowshoes, and they are the real deal. Maine Guide Snowshoes not only has a passion for what they do, but they make a tried and true product, all while giving back to the community.

Owned by Robert F. (Bob) & Andrea Howe, Maine Guide Snowshoes (MGS) is a company that takes pride in the craftsmanship of their ’shoes, all handmade in Maine. While other companies may be focused on aluminum or plastic frames, MGS is made of traditional white ash, and with good reason- they are the best. “After trying every conceivable frame over the last 25 years, I still believe white ash is the best”, says Bob Howe.

snowshoes overlooking mountains

Using Maine Guide Snowshoes from the Eastern Hillside at Beaver Creek, CO, which is a backcountry trail in winter. Photo courtesy of Judy Holmes.

About Maine Guide Snowshoes

Three things ring true of this family-owned Maine company and truly set it apart from others in the field: high-quality white ash, their dedication and service to the community, and their true love and commitment for the outdoors.

THE WHITE ASH CHOICE

Why white ash, you might ask, when there are less expensive aluminum models out there with bright colors and chic styles? In the frigid weather typical in Northern Maine, aluminum snowshoes tend to fail. If you are out in temperatures twenty degrees below zero F, your snowshoe can break within minutes and leave you stranded. Yes, aluminum snowshoes may be lightweight. However, they are not large enough to have holes for the snow to fall back through as you step. So, the user ends up shipping snow onboard their decking and bogging down.

Several years ago, Bob had a client come to hunt rabbits; he stopped and bought a pair of aluminum snowshoes on his way. He could have gone with a traditional pair of wooden shoes from Bob, but he thought he knew best. Five minutes out on the trail, and they broke before the price sticker was even off the product.

PINE GROVE PROGRAMS – FROM THE HEART

Though, the unique aspect of this Maine company is that its proceeds from snowshoe sales go to support the Pine Grove Program, which offers free outdoor adventures for active military service members, veterans, and other heroes, including Gold Star families and first responders. In 1998 the Howes bought Pine Grove Lodge & Cabins in Pleasant Ridge, ME, now a licensed 501c. 100% of the proceeds support their events for veterans.

Bob did not serve in the military himself, coming of age at the end of the Vietnam War. However, he felt a need to help in some way. His Dad and other mentors had served, so at age 20, Bob began taking local veterans out on snowshoes to hunt, fish, and do other activities. As Andrea mentioned, “Bob felt that this was what he could offer, and he would go to the local VFW and other places where military veterans hung out and ask “Hey, anybody want to go fishing?”.

snowshoe tracks at Beaver Creek, CO, tracks made by Maine Guide Snowshoes

Snowshoeing can be a great escape to witness the beauty of Mother Nature. Photo courtesy of Judy Holmes.

A current project through the Pine Grove Programs is a fundraiser for the Joseph Murphy Memorial Cabin. The cabin will be free to veterans and first responders to use “as a quiet respite from the stress they are enduring,” says Bob. Joe Murphy, whom the cabin is named after, tragically took his own life after military deployment. He loved fishing and hunting in Maine outdoors.

For readers interested in knowing more about the heroic mission and purpose of Pine Grove Programs, visit www.pinegroveprograms.org. You can donate directly on their website if you find meaning in all that MGS and Pine Grove do to make the lives of our active military and veterans better.

MAINE GUIDE SNOWSHOES GOING STRONG

Alongside the work they do in the community, Bob and Andrea’s love for their product and the true outdoors is evident. In a recent interview with Andrea, she said Bob was 18 years old when he got his license as a Maine Guide, a prestigious achievement. I’m a former Mainer myself, and I know this achievement is a big deal for outdoorsmen and women.

In Northern Maine, where the Howes family lives, snowshoes are a necessity for most people who are out and about in the outdoors. Hunters, loggers, snowmobilers, and adventurers need them. “If your snowmobile breaks down and you are five miles back in the words with bad weather conditions, you may not make it out alive without a pair,” warns Bob. “Mother Nature hasn’t changed much over the years. She is as brutal now as she ever was and can still kill you in the blink of an eye.”

When the Howes bought the lodge, most of their snowshoe business was local. Today, over twenty years later, Maine Guide Snowshoes is known for making its high-quality snowshoes for people who depend on them, like hunters, wardens, foresters, and sappers. Bob’s years of hunting and guiding in the woods back his product.

Read More: The Future of Traditional Snowshoes: We Value Our 6,000 Year Tradition

having fun on snowshoes at McCoy Park, Beaver Creek Mountain

Maine Guide Snowshoes can be used for fun, recreational snowshoeing too. Photo courtesy of Judy Holmes

The Maine Guide Product

We know the importance of white ash for colder climates, like Northern Maine. However, there are a few other aspects to consider when choosing your traditional snowshoe. Maine Guide Snowshoes offers an insider’s perspective.

FOUR STYLES AND HOW TO CHOOSE

Before heading out on a pair of traditional ‘shoes, you need to consider your body weight. Also, keep in mind the kind of snow you will be traveling on your outing. Hard packed snow can support more weight than the light, fluffy stuff. For people who need to be out there in all conditions, owning more than one pair of snowshoes is an excellent idea.

As any snowshoer knows, there are many styles for different conditions. However, the years of experience behind MGS have winnowed the product down to four basics, with a brand new addition to their line.

  • The ALASKAN shoe is for deep snow and maximum weight, 175-300 pounds (79-136 kg), with a significant upturn, so the wearer does not sink. It has a long tail for proper tracking and best for flat terrain.
  • The SPORTSMAN offers foot support with a maximum weight of 150-250 lbs. This model comes with a short tail that won’t get caught in trees and brush, your all-around condition choice.
  • MODIFIED BEARPAW is one of their original designs and a go-to for many snowshoers with a shorter, wider framer than the Sportsman or Alaskan.
  • The BEAVERTAIL, similar to the modified Bearpaw, is a rounded style with an upturn on the back of the snowshoe, providing for a low drag factor and maneuverability.
  • MGS’s newest offering is the RABBIT HUNTER, the first model with reverse! This one is great for backing up (not an easy task in most snowshoes). The Rabbit Hunter is also designed to lie flat on top of the snow, with little drag and increased floatation.

Read More: Traditional Wooden Snowshoes: Shapes, Designs, Names

Maine Guide Snowshoes

A special pair of racing snowshoes by Maine Guide Snowshoes. Photo courtesy of Judy Holmes.

THE TIES THAT BIND

After deciding to buy a pair of traditional wooden snowshoes, the next consideration is the ties, and then the harness, or binding. MGS offers three options for snowshoe ties.

Traditional RAWHIDE is a favorite among many veteran outdoorsmen and women. However, these ties require regular care with varnish to prevent damage from moisture and wear and tear. Not to mention that critters like mice in the barn will chew on them, so storing out of reach is essential. Native Americans used hide to lace snowshoes going back thousands of years, and they remain a classic piece of history. For those interested, you must special order rawhide laces.

Less expensive and easier to maintain is NEOPRENE, as they are rugged and water-resistant. Though, the price of neoprene laces fluctuates with the cost of oil.

ROPE is the third method that MGS uses for laces. Their rope is a specific double braided polyester that won’t stretch out. Plus, it’s UV resistant. It is the standard today on MG snowshoes. The rope ties come in different colors these days. Furthermore, these are the least expensive method of tying, while still being tough.

The harness, or binding, needs to be heavy-duty. Thus, the MGS product is a strong UVMH Polyethelene with big buckles, so they are easy to put on and remove. A critical aspect of the harness material is that your boot does not wiggle around while snowshoeing.

Read More: Traditional Snowshoe Bindings 101

Special Events, Special People

Combine the heart and soul of Maine Guide Snowshoes with their excellent product, and they have impacted thousands of individuals and snowshoeing enthusiasts.

In March of 2012, MGS and the Pine Grove Programs sponsored 14-year-old Mariya Gilliland of Eagle River, Alaska. Their support enabled her to compete in four snowshoe biathlon events at the Arctic Winter Games (celebrating 50 years in 2020) in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Mariya returned home with one gold, two silver, and a bronze medal! She earned these medals while wearing her specially designed MGS snowshoes.

snowshoe racing, Judy Holmes wearing Maine Guide Snowshoes

Judy using her Maine Guide Snowshoes while racing a 10k at Beaver Creek, part of the Beaver Creek Running Series. Photo courtesy of Judy Holmes.

Judy Holmes, age 65, currently lives in Montana. She started snowshoeing in 1976 while working at L. L. Bean in Freeport, Maine. Judy and co-workers would go out snowshoeing at night with headlamps on at local state parks. Growing up in nearby Portland, she loved all snow sports, from telemark skiing, snowboarding, and alpine and Nordic skiing. Having lived in ski areas the past 35 years, Judy said, “Snowshoeing was something I could do after the lifts closed.”

Her first competition was in Colorado, the 1990 Mountain Man Winter Triathlon. “I think it was 15 miles of cross-country skiing, both uphill and down Beaver Creek mountain, then 10 miles of snowshoeing up and down the mountain, followed by 20 miles of speed skating on Nottingham Pond in nearby Avon.”

Judy was racing on metal snowshoes with running shoes bolted to them. That is until about five years ago when a Maine Guide in the Moosehead Lake region told her about the Maine Guide Snowshoes. After visiting Bob and Andrea Howe, she never looked back. They built her several pairs of wooden snowshoes that are shorter and narrower than standard models. Her custom-designed ‘shoes also have grips on the bottom for uphill runs. They have worked great! For the next several years, Judy never came in lower than 3rd in a race in her age group. “In most of my races, I was the only one on wooden shoes.” And you can bet hundreds of participants noticed the snowshoes, especially with the red and purple lacing!

Judy Holmes with Maine Guide Snowshoes after 1st place win, Beaver Creek Running Series 2018

Judy celebrating a first-place win with her Maine Guide Snowshoes. Photo courtesy of Judy Holmes.

Maine Guide: The Real Deal

This small, family-owned business in northern Maine embodies what snowshoeing is all about: a love for snowshoes, the community, and the great outdoors.

Read More: Snowshoeing Destinations In Maine

Have you heard of or used Maine Guide Snowshoes? Let us know in the comments below!

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Winter Apres Snowshoe Tours Across Southern Alberta & British Columbia https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/02/05/winter-apres-snowshoe-tours-across-southern-alberta-british-columbia/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/02/05/winter-apres-snowshoe-tours-across-southern-alberta-british-columbia/#respond Wed, 05 Feb 2020 19:33:10 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=95250 Instead of vacationing somewhere warm this winter, why not embrace the season in all its snowy wonder? Travel into Southern Alberta and British Columbia and head out on a snowshoe tour!  And don’t forget those snow tires to get there … Continue reading

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Instead of vacationing somewhere warm this winter, why not embrace the season in all its snowy wonder? Travel into Southern Alberta and British Columbia and head out on a snowshoe tour!  And don’t forget those snow tires to get there because I’m taking you on an adventure!

snowshoeing Ptarmigan Lake, snowshoe tour Alberta

Snowshoeing across Ptarmigan Lake from Lake Louise, just one of the guided tours you can enjoy this winter in Southern Alberta

You’ll find snowshoe trails near every mountain town across Southern Alberta and British Columbia. However, you’ll often need to sign up for a guided tour to gain access to remote areas. One of my favourite places to snowshoe requires a gondola and a chairlift ride to reach a beautiful backcountry lake that few people ever get to see in winter.

Many guided snowshoe companies are also starting to include fine dining apres experiences to set their tours apart from others on the market. Night hikes, hot chocolate under the stars, and wildlife tracking are just some of the other experiences you can enjoy when you sign up for a hike with a local guide.

Snowshoers at Sunshine Meadows, Banff

Guided tours take you to some of the most incredible destinations ( Photo: Snowshoeing at Sunshine Meadows in Banff National Park)

Below are some of the best of the guided apres snowshoeing tours you’ll find in Southern Alberta and British Columbia. I have personally participated in several of the tours and have visited every destination featured here

1. Moonlit Snowshoe & Fine Dining Experience at Castle Mountain Resort, Southern Alberta

Castle Mountain Resort is located 30 minutes south of Pincher Creek (2 hours north of the Roosville border crossing in Northern Montana).

We interviewed Cole Fawcett, Sales & Marketing Manager for Castle Mountain Resort, and asked him what draws people to the resort. He said, “It’s usually as a result of the wonderful skiing and snowboarding that we have on offer. Our resort is home to the most snow of any resort in Alberta, on an annual basis.”

Snowshoers posing on snowshoe tour at Castle Mountain Resort, Alberta

Moonlit Snowshoe Tours for all levels of fitness at Castle Mountain Resort (Credit: Castle Mountain Resort/ Nick Thornton)

Hikers might wonder why they should visit a ski resort for a quality snowshoe experience. One perk that Fawcett points out is because they are a ski/snowboard resort, they’re fortunate enough to make use of one of their chairlifts as part of the snowshoe experience. Thus, the snowshoeing portion of the tour is predominantly downhill, all the way back to their base area.

We asked what makes Castle Mountain’s Moonlit Snowshoe & Fine Dining Experience unique compared to other moonlight snowshoe tours. Fawcett responded that because of the lift-accessed hiking, the experience is quite accessible, particularly if you have an average to a below-average level of fitness or if you’re new to snowshoeing. He also describes the “main event” as the gourmet meal included with the tour.

Snowshoers on top of the mountain, Castle Mountain Resort tour in Alberta

Lift accessed hiking for all abilities at Castle Mountain Resort (Credit: Castle Mountain Resort/Nick Thornton)

What Does The Tour Entail?

Guests ride up the Huckleberry Chair as lifts are closing and just before 4:00 pm. Then, they enjoy a 90 minute to 2-hour hike before returning to the base area. Here, take a short break to visit your accommodations and change clothing before the main event; the food! Dinner starts at 7:00 pm and each course is paired with a different wine. For this reason alone, it’s recommended that you book accommodations at the resort for the night.

When Is The Moonlit Snowshoe & Fine Dining Tour Offered?

This snowshoe tour in southern Alberta is an exclusive event, and the resort offers only 3 – 4 of these experiences per year. Two tours remain this year on February 14 and March 13, so grab your significant other, adult family members, or friends for these events. Also, every menu is different for each experience throughout the year. So, if you live in Southern Alberta, you could sign up for multiple tours a season and always have a unique experience.

delicious food at Castle Mountain Resort

A gourmet dining experience at Castle Mountain Resort (Credit: Castle Mountain Resort/ Nick Thornton)

Is There A Minimum Age For The Moonlit Snowshoe & Fine Dining Tour?

There is no minimum age for the Moonlit tour, but the majority of guests are 18 + due to the nature and timing of the event. Families would want to check out Castle Mountain’s Last Tracks Snowshoe Tour, a regularly scheduled tour at 2:30 pm on Saturdays. The Last Tracks Tour includes a food and beverage credit in the resort’s family-friendly, T-Bar Pub.

Do I Need My Own Equipment?

On all snowshoe tours, guests are welcome to bring their snowshoeing equipment or rent equipment from the resort. The resort also provides headlamps for all guests on the Moonlit Tour as you’re often returning to the base area in the dark.

How Do I Sign Up?

To reserve your space on the Moonlit Snowshoe & Fine Dining Experience tour, visit the Castle Mountain Resort website. You don’t want to miss this gourmet snowshoe tour in southern Alberta!

Tanya's family at Castle Mountain Resort, Alberta

Families love everything about Castle Mountain Ski Resort

What Recommendations Are There For Other Activities?

Castle Mountain Resort is surrounded by a newly christened provincial park – the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park. There is an abundance of trails located in this park for guests to enjoy, although they don’t involve the convenience of a chairlift!

Aside from this, the resort would recommend you check out their fantastic skiing, and I personally suggest one of their scenic snowcat tours– something I enjoyed on a ski trip to Castle Mountain last winter. No ski experience is required for the snowcat tours.

There are also a variety of accommodations within the base area, many of which are featured at www.skicastle.ca/lodging. Guests can choose from a budget, dorm-style accommodation, hotel accommodation, all the way to lavish vacation homes that can accommodate up to a dozen guests.

Snowcat Ski Tour at Castle Mountain Resort

Castle Mountain Snowcat Tours (no ski experience required)

2. Island Lake Lodge Winter Lunch and Snow Cat Ride, Fernie, British Columbia

If you’re in southern Alberta, I highly recommend hopping over the border into British Columbia. Here, you’ll arrive at the small mountain town of Fernie on the Powder Highway, an appropriately named circle route through the Kootenay Rockies of British Columbia.

Most people visit Fernie for the legendary skiing at Fernie Alpine Resort. However, we spent a couple of days here last winter exploring off the resort and enjoyed touring around the area at a slower pace. Our favourite discovery was the Winter Lunch & Snowcat Ride at Island Lake Lodge.

What Does The Tour Entail?

On the Winter Lunch & Snowcat Ride, we got to ride a snowcat into a backcountry lodge for lunch. Bring your snowshoes for a hike around the lake before your meal, and then enjoy your ride back down with full bellies and big smiles on your faces. Alternately, we also brought our cross-country skis up with us to the lodge so that we could ski back down on the groomed Nordic trails. I’m never one to turn down an opportunity for a great multi-sport day after all.

Island Lake Lodge, snowshoers posing, British Columbia

Snowshoeing around Island Lake (Credit: Island Lake Lodge/Mike McPhee)

When Is The Winter Lunch & Snowcat Ride Offered?

The Winter Lunch and Snowcat Ride are available throughout the winter season Thursdays – Sundays. The cost is $89 per person, which includes the snowcat ride and a gourmet 2-course lunch in the restaurant. You’ll be able to order off a menu with a few different selections that even my child was happy eating. Children 3-12 also receive a 50% discount, and children younger than this are free.

Is There A Minimum Age?

No, this snowshoe tour in British Columbia is open to any age, making this tour an excellent choice for families. Plus, you can’t beat the child discounts listed above!

Do I Need To Bring My Own Equipment?

Snowshoe rentals are available for $20 if you don’t have your own. Additionally, a full spa menu is available for an additional charge and advance booking. Note that the snowshoeing part of the tour is done on your own and not a guided hike. The lake is located very close to the lodge, though, so a guide is not really necessary.

snowcat and snowshoes at Island Lake Lodge, BC

Island Lake Lodge Snowcat Ride

How Do I Sign Up?

Snowcats depart at 10:30, and 11:45 am with advanced reservations required. Visit the Island Lake Lodge website for complete information and contact details.

What Recommendations Are There For Other Activities?

Visit the Fernie Tourism website for a complete list of winter activities to enjoy in the area, ranging from Nordic skiing to fat biking, snowshoeing around the town, or ice skating. You’ll also find a list of diverse accommodations from tiny homes to camping yurts, ski-in/out condos at the alpine resort or hotels in the town.

two people hugging on snowshoes looking at scenery, Island Lake Lodge

The scenery is always spectacular at Island Lake Lodge (Credit: Island Lake Lodge/Mike McPhee)

3. Interpretive Snowshoe Tours in the Selkirk Mountains at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, British Columbia

Heading north on the Powder Highway, you’ll enjoy endless opportunities for recreation in the East Kootenay Rockies. Make your way towards the Town of Golden, another adventure mecca in British Columbia.

Heading west from Golden, you’ll arrive in the City of Revelstoke, where fans of “big mountain skiing” travel to play at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. This resort has the longest lift-accessed vertical of any resort in North America. It sits at 1,713 metres (5,620 ft) along with an average snowfall of 10.5 metres (34.4 ft.)

Read More: Chasing Winter Adventure in the East Kootenay Rockies of British Columbia

Revelstoke Mountain Resort scenery, British Columbia

Hiking above the clouds in a winter wonderland of frozen trees at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

We were here a couple of weeks ago for a ski vacation, and I was awestruck by the scenery from the top of the mountain, the frosted trees covering the slopes, and the experience of skiing above the clouds.

Fortunately, for non-skiers, it’s possible to get a very similar experience. You can hike above the clouds through a wonderland of frozen trees, thanks to the guided tours offered by Snowshoe Pete and The Revelstoke Snowshoe Company.

I interviewed Peter Dixon, owner of the Revelstoke Snowshoe Company, and asked him what draws hikers to this major ski resort. He responded that snowshoeing is a unique way to experience the winter landscape. It’s also a great way to take a break from skiing at the resort for those guests who have traveled to Revelstoke for several days.

The gondola gives access to forests that would otherwise be much harder for the average winter hiker to access. I know for myself, I could never climb up 1,170 vertical metres (3,839 vertical feet) in winter to reach the elevation where the snowshoe tours begin at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Without a gondola, most of us would never be able to enjoy a hiking experience like this.

Dixon also says there’s security in knowing that you’re hiking at a resort within a boundary that’s been checked for safety.

snowshoers near ski lift on snowshoe tour at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, British Columbia

Snowshoe tours at Revelstoke Mountain Resort (Credit: William Eaton/Revelstoke Snowshoe Company)

What Does The Tour Entail?

Every tour is different, catering to a wide range of skills and fitness levels. Dixon and his team are continually making new routes, and breaking trail is typical with the amount of snow they get at the resort.

For apres lovers, Revelstoke offers an Evening Snowshoe Tour- Hot Chocolate Bar experience. Their Valentine’s Day Tour is coming up, which includes a deluxe hot chocolate bar in the forest. (Think, a bar carved out of snow in the middle of the forest serving hot chocolate with gourmet toppings.)

When Is The Tour Offered?

The Evening Snowshoe Tour- Hot Chocolate Bar departs at 5:30 each day from Sutton Place at the resort. The Evening Snowshoe Tour typically lasts 1.5 hours. The day snowshoe tours begin at 12:45 pm each day from Guest Services at the base of Revelstoke Mountain Resort and last 2.5 to 3 hours.

The day tours also run from the top of the gondola, where you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the valley and surrounding mountain ranges.  Being in the powder capital makes for pretty magnificent forests in the subalpine, as I discovered myself on my recent trip to Revelstoke. Possible activities on the tours include wildlife tracking (grouse, snowshoe hares, pine martens, etc.) and optional snowshoe cliff jumping.

snowshoeing tour at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, British Columbia

Looking down on the Columbia Valley from the top of Revelstoke Mountain Resort (Credit: Revelstoke Snowshoe Company)

Is There A Minimum Age?

All ages are welcome on these tours, and kids 12 and under are free.

Do I Need To Bring My Own Equipment?

The Evening Snowshoe Tour- Hot Chocolate Bar includes a snowshoe rental as well as a headlamp to help navigate. The daily tours include a snowshoe rental and resort access (lift ticket). They also have hiking poles should people require or baby packs for families with little ones.

How Do I Sign Up?

They request that visitors try to book at least one day in advance though they will try to accommodate last-minute requests.

For more information and to reserve your spot, please visit the Revelstoke Snowshoe Company’s website, where you’ll find details on pricing as well.

snowshoers out on the trail at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, British Columbia

Gondola-accessed snowshoeing at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

What Recommendations Are There For Other Activities?

I highly recommend spending at least one day at the resort skiing or snowboarding if you enjoy downhill sports. Other area activities include dog sledding, snowshoeing or Nordic skiing on the Mount MacPherson Trails outside the city, fat biking, or visiting nearby hot springs.

Additionally, you can’t visit Revelstoke without taking a walk around the shops and restaurants downtown. I personally recommend the Taco Club or Chubby Funsters, both great restaurants I’ve recently eaten at in the area. The Village Idiot also comes highly recommended for an après-ski or snowshoe experience.

Visit the Tourism Revelstoke website for a complete guide to winter activities and dining. You’ll also find a full list of options for accommodations on their website.

Peter Dixon recommends staying at his own “Snowshoe Pete’s Mountain Retreat” – Now I know where I’m staying next winter when we return to Revelstoke.

snowshoeing with a blue sky at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Bluebird days are magical at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

4. Snowshoeing on Top of the World at Sunshine Meadows, Banff National Park

Moving back to Alberta, we come to one of my favourite snowshoe tours at Sunshine Village Ski Resort in Banff National Park.

Guides with White Mountain Adventures lead you through pristine powder into Sunshine Meadows and to a small island in the middle of backcountry Rock Isle Lake.

Highlights include amazing fresh deep powder (every time) and an authentic backcountry experience that you wouldn’t be doing without a guide. You also receive a gondola and chairlift ride to the top of Standish Mountain at the ski resort (saving yourself hours of uphill hiking), views of Mt. Assiniboine, Canada’s “Matterhorn mountain,” and crossing the Continental Divide into British Columbia. The tour also includes hot chocolate and cookies once you reach the lake.

There is also an optional ending to finish the tour with a visit to Sunshine Mountain Lodge, where you’ll be treated to traditional Swiss-style cheese fondue. (Which I definitely recommend!!)

Read More:
Snowshoe & Ski Vacations For The Whole Family At Sunshine Village, Alberta

snowshoeing tour at Sunshine Village, Alberta

Snowshoeing at Sunshine Village with White Mountain Adventures

What Does The Tour Entail?

While you’ll be starting your adventure at a ski resort, you’ll be leaving the resort area boundary (why you need a guide) and heading off into backcountry Banff on this tour. Directly from the website: “Joining this trip means being prepared for any kind of weather because high alpine weather can be extreme and may be completely different than in town weather.”

This tour is a snowshoe tour where you’ll want to dress as if you were going downhill skiing. I’d recommend bringing snow pants, jacket, goggles, waterproof mitts or gloves, something to cover your head and face. You’ll also want warm winter boots meant for deep powder and you’ll be using the company’s gigantic snowshoes (extra-long in length for maximum flotation.)

I’ve done this tour twice now and I love the authentic nature of it. There are no cute groomed trails on this adventure. Directly from the White Mountain Adventures website: “Days may be beautiful with the sun sparkling off of fresh snow or they may be very snowy with near whiteout conditions. On the beautiful days, you’ll finish with memories of a sea of mountains in all directions. On days when the weather is “not so good” as we like to say, you’ll head home with the sense of exhilaration and accomplishment that comes from real experience – a real mountain winter day in Banff National Park!”

Read More: Snowshoeing Dress Code: What Clothing To Wear

Snowshoeing Sunshine Meadows, Banff, Alberta

Hiking across Rock Isle Lake, Sunshine Meadows, Banff

When Is This Tour Offered?

The Snowshoeing On Top Of The World At Sunshine Meadows tour is offered daily from mid-November to mid-April. Please book your visit in advance. Private booking is also available seven days a week.

Is There A Minimum Age?

This tour is rated as moderate to strenuous and is not suitable for children under 12 years old.

Do I Need To Bring My Own Equipment?

Each tour includes a professional hiking guide, transportation from Banff, Sunshine Village gondola and chairlift ticket, snowshoes, trekking poles, hot chocolate & snacks. Furthermore, fondue can be added at an extra cost.

How Do I Sign Up?

You can reserve your spot on this backcountry tour by calling the White Mountain Office directly at 403-760-4403. Complete information about this tour is on the White Mountain Adventures website. Don’t miss your opportunity to explore the backcountry on this unique snowshoe tour in British Columbia!

cheese fondue at Sunshine Mountain Lodge, BC

Apres-hike Fondue at Sunshine Mountain Lodge

What Recommendations Are There For Other Activities?

Please visit the Banff Lake Louise Tourism website if planning a trip to Banff National Park. Options for entertainment and outdoor pursuits here are endless year-round. Personal recommendations include visiting the Banff Hot Springs or hiking up Sulphur Mountain in the Town of Banff for a free ride down on the gondola. Additionally, you can hike along the lakeshore of Lake Minnewanka, or travel to Lake Louise to skate on one of the world’s most beautiful outdoor rinks.

There is also a complete list of accommodations on the tourism website.

Read More: A Winter Explorer’s Guide To The Best of Banff National Park

Posing on the gondola, Banff, Alberta

Hiking up Sulphur Mountain is an excellent activity in Banff with a free ride down on the gondola

5. Historic Night & Scenic Snowshoe Tours at Lake Louise Ski Resort, Banff National Park

You can’t visit Banff National Park without spending time at Lake Louise, and you don’t have to be a skier to have fun in this winter wonderland. My son and I enjoyed a family-friendly snowshoe tour at the Lake Louise Ski Resort, followed by an hour of playing in the resort tube park.

Other highlights of a winter weekend at Lake Louise for my family usually include cross-country skiing on the trails around the lake or down at the village, ice skating on the lake, and playing in gigantic mounds of snow surrounding the lakeshore. Furthermore, there’s even a sledding hill beside the Chateau Lake Louise resort.

A few snowshoe tours to add to your list are the Scenic Snowshoe Tour for the beginner and apres lover or the Winter Night Snowshoe Tour for the night owl.

Read More:  Winter Activity Guide to the Best of Lake Louise, Banff National Park.

backcountry cabin at Lake Louise Ski Resort, AB

Guided Snowshoe Tours at the Lake Louise Ski Resort

What Does The Tour Entail?

There are several tours to choose from depending on the length of outing you want, the degree of effort you want to expend, and whether you have children joining you.

For example, for those interested in snowshoeing at night, check out the Winter Night Snowshoe Tour. Explore the winter forest while snowshoeing under the stars for approximately 1.5 hours.

If you’re feeling more apres, the Scenic Snowshoe Tour takes you on the gondola to the top of the mountain to explore the jaw-dropping scenery. After snowshoeing with your guide, take a break for some snacks and hot chocolate. This tour is an easy trek suited for all ability levels and is perfect for beginners. Additionally, the entire tour lasts about 2 hours.

When Is The Tour Offered?

The Winter Night Snowshoe Tour is available daily and leaves at 6 pm, with dates through early March. Likewise, the Scenic Snowshoe Tour operates at 10 am, 12 pm and 2 pm through May, or as conditions allow.

Is There A Minimum Age?

The tour is open to anyone of all ages. However, the Winter Night Snowshoe Tour is a moderate difficulty level, so it may not be best for young children. If you are traveling with kids, try the Winter Wildlife Snowshoe Tour. On this tour, you can explore the forest plant and animal life and escape the crowds.

Do I Need To Bring My Own Equipment?

Both tours include a snowshoe rental with the price. The Winter Night Snowshoe Tour includes a headlamp rental and a transfer back to your accommodation if needed. Additionally, the Scenic Snowshoe Tour includes a lift ticket up the gondola. Discounted prices are available if you already have a lift ticket.

How Do I Sign Up?

All snowshoe tours can be booked through the Lake Louise Resort website. Reservations must be made by 5 pm 48 hours before your visit.

Wapta Falls, Yoho National Park

Wapta Falls is just one of the fantastic places you can visit on a full-day snowshoe tour from Lake Louise

What Recommendations Are There For Other Activities?

Please visit the Banff Lake Louise Tourism website if planning a trip to Lake Louise. There are several snowshoe trails around the lake, along with a beautiful skating rink. Nordic skiing is also a popular activity here along with dog sledding and horse-drawn sleigh rides.

Furthermore, you can explore nearby Yoho National Park through the Half or Full Day Banff and Yoho Snowshoe Tours. The resort has four options for this one, including guided hikes around the Lake Louise area or into Yoho National Park.  My choice though, would be Wapta Falls in Yoho National Park!

Read More: Winter Guide To Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Skoki Lodge, Alberta

Snowshoe into Skoki Lodge for a night on a guided tour from Lake Louise

For affordable accommodations, I recommend checking out the Lake Louise Alpine Centre, a modern hostel with private rooms and shared living/cooking space.

Or, if up for an overnight backcountry lodge experience, you can take the Skoki Lodge Guided Overnight Tour. Learn about the history of Skoki and the natural landscape before spending the night at the lodge.

Read More: In Search of the Ultimate Backcountry Ski Lodge (On Snowshoes)

Go On A Snowshoe Tour!

Guided apres and moonlight snowshoe tours across British Columbia and Alberta are an excellent option for a vacation close to home (if you’re in the Rockies). Or, if vacationing from around the globe, a tour is an awe-inspiring experience for your trip to the area!

What’s your favorite snowshoe tour? Have you tried any of the tours mentioned above? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Read Next:
Beyond Downhill Skiing: Winter Fun At Resorts In The Canadian Rockies
Top Winter Hiking Trails In The Canadian Rockies

ice skating on Lake Louise, Alberta

Ice skating on Lake Louise  is a must-do activity when in Banff in winter

Disclaimer: All photos are the author’s unless otherwise credited. The author has worked with many of these resorts for hosted tours and accommodations. All opinions are that of the author.

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Romantic North American Snowshoe Getaways At Snow Resorts https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/01/25/romantic-north-american-snow-resort-getaways-for-snowshoers/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/01/25/romantic-north-american-snow-resort-getaways-for-snowshoers/#respond Sat, 25 Jan 2020 18:12:48 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=75287 Snowshoeing and cross-country (XC) skiing can be an incredible bonding experience with your significant other. So, consider getting away with your loved one to a winter wonderland at one of North America’s romantic snow resorts. Here, experience some outdoor recreating … Continue reading

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Snowshoeing and cross-country (XC) skiing can be an incredible bonding experience with your significant other. So, consider getting away with your loved one to a winter wonderland at one of North America’s romantic snow resorts. Here, experience some outdoor recreating and the pampering you both deserve.

Check out one of the top 10 favorite romantic resorts featured by XCSkiResorts.com.

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Romantic Snow Resorts In Western North America


Fairmont Chateau: Alberta, Canada

The Fairmont Chateau in Lake Louise, Alberta, is a luxury resort in western Canada. Enjoy all the trimmings and places for romantics to enjoy each other, such as the outstanding rear window panorama of the Victoria Glacier.

Additionally, with an annual snowfall of over 12 feet (3.6 m) a year, it is a prime snowshoeing location and scenic destination. Get out in the snow and try out a variety of snowshoe adventures. For instance, jump on the Powderfest Snowshoeing Tour into the forest to look for animal tracks or take a Night Owl Snowshoe Tour and explore the woods at night. Moreover, if the conditions are right, look above at the constellations in the night sky.  Then, after an exciting day of exploring, relax at the spa on-site, or indulge in an enriching fondue or exceptional dining experience.

Read More: Winter Activity Guide To The Best of Lake Louise, Banff National Park

XC Skiing across Lake Louise, AB

Hike or ski across Lake Louise to the frozen waterfalls at the far end. Photo by Tanya Koob.


Nipika Mountain Resort: British Columbia, Canada

The Nipika Mountain Resort in Kootenay, British Columbia, is a secluded lodge and cabins. Couples are transported to the site, situated in 8,000 acres of wilderness with 36 feet (11 m) of guaranteed snow. Nipika Mountain Resort really is the ultimate eco-resort without high altitude problems. As part of your stay, take a 2 hour guided snowshoe tour along the clifftops and rivers of the resort.

Read More: No 3 Snowshoe Friendly Nordic Center: Nipika Mountain Eco Resort, BC

Junior snowshoers trek along the Kootenay River. Photo courtesy of Nipika Mountain Resort.


Bear Valley Adventures: California, USA

Bear Valley Adventures on the west slope of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains is in the land of giant Sequoia trees. Accommodations at the Bear Valley Lodge are walking distance to the trails with recently updated rooms. On the other hand, you can stay at the Arnold Black Bear Inn B & B for luxury in nearby Calaveras, CA among the Sequoias.


Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa: Colorado, USA

Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa in Tabernash, CO, is a top-notch snow resort for romance and has so many things for couples to do on-site. Experience fun activities such as a sleigh ride, air rifle biathlon, fat biking, or snowshoeing. Then unwind with romantic dining or enjoy the geothermally-heated pool and full array of spa treatments all amidst rustic elegance.

To amp up the romance, the Romance Package includes a cozy room or cabin with a fireplace, a single rose, champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries, and a relaxation amenity list.

Read More:
Winter Retreat at Devil’s Thumb Ranch
Dinner and a Snowshoe: An Evening at Devil’s Thumb Ranch
The Ultimate Guide To Snowshoeing In Grand County, CO

Breakfast view from Heck's Tavern. Photo by Kim Fuller.

Breakfast view from Heck’s Tavern at Devil’s Thumb Ranch. Photo by Kim Fuller.


Vista Verde Ranch: Colorado, USA

Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, limits the number of guests to 30 so the staff can ensure personalized attention. This setup allows for the ultimate opportunity to disconnect from the day-to-day stresses. Furthermore, couples get luxurious accommodations and can be accompanied by a guide in the backcountry to experience the ultimate romance.

Read More: Be Treated Like Family At Vista Verde Guest Ranch

fireplace at Vista Verde Guest Ranch, Steamboat Springs

Relax by the fireplace and disconnect at Vista Verde Guest Ranch. Photo by Paul Wowk.


Galena Lodge: Idaho, USA

Galena Lodge in Ketchum, Idaho has the “Honeymoon Yurt,” which is a love nest that’s only 20 minutes out on the trail. Here, couples can enjoy the backcountry accommodations in comfort, get dinner delivered and maybe even enjoy a massage for two. When not relaxing, explore the 25km of snowshoe trails on your own or with a guide.

Read More: No. 2 Snowshoe Friendly Nordic Center: Galena Lodge, Ketchum, ID

snowshoer at Galena Lodge

Snowshoeing at Galena Lodge. Photo courtesy of Galena Lodge.


Lone Mountain Ranch: Montana, USA

Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, Montana, is near Yellowstone National Park. The ranch has cozy cabins, a lodge with great cuisine, massage services and a staff that treats all of its guests warmly. Furthermore, explore 30 km of snowshoe trails throughout the ranch on your own or with a guide. Guided excursions are available at night, and by the light of the moon.

Read More:
Snowshoeing, Skiing, Eating & Playing at Lone Mountain Ranch. Montana
West Yellowstone, Montana: Top 4 Snowshoe Trails

Enjoy a cabin nestled in the wood at Lone Mountain Ranch. Photo by Melynda Harrison.


Romantic Snow Resorts In Eastern Northern America


Glen House: New Hampshire, USA

The Glen House is the newest New Hampshire inn located in Gorham, NH. Experience breathtaking views of the nearby mountains and trails at Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center. During the winter months, take a romantic journey to enjoy the sights of the protected Great Gulf Wilderness and the Presidential Mountain Range from the comfort and safety of a Mount Washington SnowCoach.

Read More: Snowshoeing 4,000 Footers In New Hampshire’s White Mountains


Mountain Top Inn, Vermont, USA

The Mountain Top Inn is buried in the Green Mountains in Chittenden, Vermont. Here, you can sit fireside in the restaurant with a wonderful menu or in the pub with live entertainment. Then, enjoy 60km of snowshoe trails with a lunch prepared by the Mountain Top Inn chefs, sled on the hill behind the inn or enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride.

Read More: No 7 Snowshoe Friendly Nordic Center: Mountain Top Inn, Vermont 

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What’s your favorite romantic snowshoe getaway? Additionally, have you experienced pampering at one of these romantic snow resorts? Let us know in the comments below!

Read More:
North America’s Top 10 Snowshoe Friendly Nordic Centers
Great Resorts For A Family Winter Vacation in Colorado, Vermont, & New Hampshire

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Snowshoeing Trails & Events Near Chama, New Mexico https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/01/16/snowshoeing-trails-events-near-chama-new-mexico/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/01/16/snowshoeing-trails-events-near-chama-new-mexico/#respond Thu, 16 Jan 2020 21:07:35 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=95150 Taking advantage of a foot of powder, we snowshoed under a clear, blue sky in the small town of Chama, New Mexico. Our snowshoeing location of choice was Edward Sargent Wildlife Area, only a 5-minute drive north of Chama. We … Continue reading

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Taking advantage of a foot of powder, we snowshoed under a clear, blue sky in the small town of Chama, New Mexico. Our snowshoeing location of choice was Edward Sargent Wildlife Area, only a 5-minute drive north of Chama. We were practically alone aside from a few snowshoers far in the distance, and able to leisurely enjoy the mountains, streams, and forests surrounding us. Luckily, Edward Sargent Wildlife Area is not the only option for those wishing to snowshoe around Chama. Here, we focus on several trail options, as well as events for snowshoeing enthusiasts.

Chama, a small town of around 1,000 people, is a beautiful mountain town at 7870 feet (2399 m), located just 7 miles (11 km) from the Colorado-New Mexico border. In the summer, the city is home to the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. This grand adventure draws visitors from around the country who wish to explore the Rocky Mountains by train. In the winter, though, the railroad is closed, and the area becomes far less populated. The smaller crowd offers plenty of unexplored terrain for snowshoers wishing to get off the beaten path.

Read More: Snowshoe New Mexico: Where To Go In The Land Of Enchantment

Cumbres & Toltec, Chama, Susan by station in winter

Exploring the outskirts of Chama and the Cumbres and Toltec railroad in winter.

Snowshoeing Trails Near Chama, NM

Chama has several snowshoeing trails within and near the city to check out!

Edward Sargent Wildlife Area

One of the largest draws to Edward Sargent Wildlife Area, as the name suggests, is the opportunity to view the vast array of wildlife in the park. Elk, deer, porcupines, coyotes, black bears, mountain lions, snowshoe hares, beavers, turkeys, and a variety of other birds reside in the park. You never know what animal tracks you may find along your journey! With this in mind, though, certain areas of the park are restricted during hunting season. So, please review the park guidelines beforehand to make sure you’re prepared.

Read More: A New Found Passion: Wildlife Tracking & Identification

Elk Interpretative Trail, Chama, New Mexico

The Elk Interpretative Trail, just to the north of the parking area, is a short 1/3 of a mile (0.5 km) to a wildlife viewing area. Even though the trail is short, it’s wise to take snow conditions into account. We were the first to break trail in about a foot of fresh powder. So it took about 45 minutes or so round-trip. If no wildlife is out for the day, the viewing area offers a beautiful view of the park and surrounding area.

Alternatively, once in the parking area, you can snowshoe northwest onto state rd 29, which is unplowed. Following NM 29 for approx 1 mile (1.75 km) from the parking lot will provide you access to additional snowshoe trails in the park (like this loop), as well as views of the Rio Chamita and surrounding mountains.

Rio Grande National Forest

Located in southwest Colorado, Rio Grande National Forest offers several snowshoeing trails worth exploring if you’re staying near Chama.

One sure way to add some extra beauty to your outing (I mean you can never have too much), is to snowshoe along a river. If you are a waterway lover, the Chama River Trail follows the river to the confluence for a view of the Upper Chama Basin. This 4.9-mile (7.8 km) trail has relatively gentle terrain and is excellent for snowshoeing beginners.

The Red Lake Trail is a 5.2-mile (8.3 km) easy-moderate trail and only 24 miles (38.6 km) north of Chama. Snowshoe through the La Manga Creek Valley up to an alpine plateau to catch views of the Continental Divide.

Susan at Edward Sargent in Chama

The author is enjoying beautiful snowshoeing in Chama!

Chama Chile Ski Classic & Winter Fiesta

Each January, the Chama Chile Ski Classic brings avid snowshoers and skiers from around the area to celebrate winter athleticism in this multi-day event. Located about 12 miles (19 km) outside of Chama, the event will be Jan 18-19, 2020. Bring the family for a weekend getaway for some fun racing and recreational activities!

For interested racers, the weekend begins with an 18K freestyle and 6K snowshoe junior race. Notably, the junior competition is also a qualifier for the USSSA Nationals in Leadville, CO, in February. Then, on day 2, races include a 12K or 6K classic ski, 12K or 6K snowshoe race, or 12K or 6K combined event.

If you’re new to the racing game, the 1K or 3K rookie race is a noteworthy starting point. Dip your toes in the water….er snow and see if competitive snowshoe racing is of interest!

Elk Interpretative Trail, Chama New Mexico

That beautiful blue sky, typical in winter for New Mexico, was the perfect backdrop for snowshoeing among the trees and mountains in Edward Sargent Wildlife Area.

After or between race activities, engage in the plethora of clinics and tours offered throughout the weekend. Choose to participate in the beginner cross-country ski clinic, freestyle skiing clinic, advance cross-country ski clinic, and ski waxing clinic. Or if exploring the area is more of your style, jump on the guided snowshoe tour at Edward Sargent Wildlife Area or ski tour of the Spruce Hole Area & Yurt.

To refresh and to have some fun, there will be yoga, music, and a costume contest as part of the event. Then, after Sunday, you can non-competitively snowshoe or ski the groomed course. The course is available on Monday, 1/20, or the following weekend on Jan 25th or 26th.

Go Snowshoeing Near Chama, New Mexico!

Whether you explore the trails near the town or in the surrounding area, Chama will provide the beauty you’ve been looking for in an area off the beaten path.

Have you gone snowshoeing in the Chama area or participated in the Chama Chile Ski Classic? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!

Read Next: The Divine Spirit of Snowshoeing At Angel Fire, New Mexico

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Snowshoeing In the New York Empire State Winter Games https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/01/16/snowshoeing-in-the-new-york-empire-state-winter-games/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/01/16/snowshoeing-in-the-new-york-empire-state-winter-games/#comments Thu, 16 Jan 2020 20:09:41 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=95137 For all of us winter lovers out there, the Winter Olympics are the perfect way to celebrate winter recreation, athletes, and the season. However, why wait for the Olympic Winter Games in 2022 when you can experience an Olympic-style event … Continue reading

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For all of us winter lovers out there, the Winter Olympics are the perfect way to celebrate winter recreation, athletes, and the season. However, why wait for the Olympic Winter Games in 2022 when you can experience an Olympic-style event right now in 2020. Recognized by the United States Olympic Committee, the Empire State Winter Games in New York bring all winter sports enthusiasts together. Now celebrating its 40th year, this community-driven event will take place Jan 29- Feb 2, 2020. As an annual multi-day, multi-sport event, the Winter Empire State Games are not to be missed!

Read More: A Winter Olympic Sport In The Making

racers at the 2007 ESWG

Snowshoe racers getting started at the 2007 Empire State Winter Games

About The Winter Empire State Games

In 1978, a gentleman by the name of Herbert Mols created the New York Empire State Games in Syracuse, NY. The first games, held at Syracuse University, were summer games. A great success, the Empire State games became part of the National Congress of Games shortly after the games. The first Empire State Winter Games (ESWG)  began in 1981, and we held in Lake Placid, NY, which was also the home of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Games. There were six events at the first WESG: alpine skiing, ski jumping, cross country skiing, indoor speed skating, figure skating, and biathlon.

dog sledding- Empire State Winter Games

Watching some dog sledding while at the games (not an event but still fun!)

Current Events Of The Games 

Now, there are over 20 different sports (including snowshoeing!) throughout the Empire State Winter Games. Furthermore, some events mirror the Winter Olympic events. All events in the WESG take place in the Adirondack Mountains through multiple villages and towns, including Lake Placid, Brighton, Harrietstown, Malone, North Elba, Tupper Lake, and Saranac Lake  These events include:

Bobsled- Empire State Winter Games

Some excellent bobsledding at the games!

  • Alpine Skiing
  • Biathlon
  • Bobsled
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Figure Skating
  • Freestyle Moguls
  • Luge
  • Nordic Combined
  • Skeleton
  • Ski (Cross, Jumping, Orienteering)
  • Snowboard Cross
  • Snowshoeing
  • Speed Skating
  • Squirt Hockey
  • Girls Hockey
  • Women’s Hockey
  • Winter Biking

There are also events for those with disabilities. Adaptive events include Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Ski Cross, Snowboard Cross, and Bobsled.

Read More: Olympics In Snowshoeing? Yes! The Special Olympics

Info For Athletes & Spectators

For those interested in participating in the games, registration is still open! You also do not need to be a New York resident to participate. The 2020 games will bring together over 2,000 athletes from over 15 U.S. states and three countries! Check-in for any registered athletes will be on January 29th at the Conference Center at Lake Placid from 4-6

racers on the track at ESWG 2007

Keeping pace around the course at the 2007 games

Spectators can watch the games for free, but some venues do charge an entrance fee. If you plan on attending multiple sites, purchase an ESWG Olympic Sites Passport. Plus, don’t miss the opening ceremonies! They will take place on Thursday, January 30th, at 6:30 pm at Herb Brooks Arena in the village of Lake Placid.

Also, throughout the games, the Winter Carnival will be held in Saranac Lake. Get your pictures with ice sculptures, including a castle made out of ice. Or go for great shopping in all the towns and villages where the events are taking place!

ice sculpture - ESWG

Check out some neat ice sculptures while at the games!

Empire State Winter Games Snowshoeing Events

The ESWG first added snowshoeing in 1984. Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, NY, held the snowshoe track and sprint races from 1984-1991. The 400m, 200m, and 100m distance events took place right in front of the Mirror Lake Inn. Ironically, the Inn was the same venue for snowshoe races held by Melvil Dewey, who created the Dewey Decimal System that is universally used in libraries.

In 1992, the snowshoe events moved to the Lake Placid Equestrian Stadium. The opening ceremonies for the 1980 Winter Olympics were at this stadium. Furthermore, a temporary stadium was built next to it, which held 30,000 spectators. Then, in 1995, Paul Smith’s College became the new venue for the sprints. Depending on the availability of warm bathrooms, events alternated between Paul Smiths College and the North County Community College Athletic Fields in Saranac Lake.

For one year (2011), the snowshoe events were at the Petrova Elementary School in Saranac Lake with 100m, 400m, and 800m events. However, the games were only there for one year. After 2011, the snowshoe events moved back to the Soccer Field near Paul Smiths College and where they are still held today.

Racers at starting line ESWG 2005

At the starting line, ready to go! Racers at 2005 ESWG

The Early Years Of Empire State Winter Games Snowshoeing

During the first snowshoe events, athletes participated from 6 different regions in New York State and had to run all three events (400, 200, and 100). The racer with the lowest cumulative time of all three races was the winner. Divisions included male or female, scholastic or open divisions. Scholastic athletes were male and female athletes from age 12 to seniors in high school. Whereas, open athletes were male and female from college-age and up. In the 90s, the games added a masters-level division, 1500m, and 5K event.

We spoke to athlete Jim Tucker about his experience with the first snowshoe events. He recalls that runners started the race from a standing start with the gun behind the runner. Conditions often were the worst of it. Jim Tucker mentioned that one year, his fellow athlete Eric Mann, blasted out of the start for the 200 meters from one of the inside lanes. Just after he entered the curve, his snowshoe cleat did not catch the pebble grain surface of the ice (the surface of the ice was like the surface of a new basketball), and he slid on his side through lanes 2 – 4. Once he stopped sliding, he got back up and finished well in the race.

racing in snow at ESWG 2006

Sometimes conditions at the games can be rough!

According to Jim Tucker, in another early year of the games, Mirror Lake was covered in about 18″ of snow, which pushed down onto the ice. The water came up through the cracks that had formed in the ice, creating a deep slush layer under the powdery snow on top. These conditions were dreadful for all racers involved. The early heats of the 400 were above the slush, but before long, everyone was soaked above the ankles. Fortunately, it wasn’t below zero (other years this was certainly the case), or the slush would have frozen upon impact with the air, adding to the calamity.

Recent Years Of Empire State Winter Games Snowshoeing

Before 2011, New York State ran the Empire State Games. While under this ownership, athletes had to qualify for each sport and event. Athletes could compete in your home region or another region of the state as long as you met the qualification standards of the activity. Races were divided by gender and age group, and racers of all age groups were represented from age 14 up to 70 years old.

2007 racers at the ESWG

I began snowshoe racing in January of 2005 and competed in the Empire State Winter Games from 2005-2011. When I competed from 2005-2010, I ran in qualifying races for (and ended up competing in) the distance and sprint events for 1500m, 100m, 200m, 400 m, and the 5k cross-country style or trail run.

After competing in the events from 2005-2011, they awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals for every age group and gender. Even though I never received a medal, I enjoyed my time at the games. However, I celebrated my fellow teammates as they won medals in several events. My father, Tom Niziol, received medals in the sprints. Additionally, Michael Rogers, Dale Deahn, and Jim Tucker all received medals.

ceremony from Empire State Winter Games

In 2011, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, ROOST (Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism), and the Olympic Development Regional Committee took over running the winter games. Furthermore, there were no Empire State Summer Games. As part of the new ownership, there were no qualifying races required in snowshoeing, and they dropped the 1500m event. Instead, they added an 800m race to the sprint events and kept the 100 m, 200m, and 400m events. They also continued the 5k cross country style or trail run. These are the same events that are part of the ESWG snowshoeing events today.

Read More: Perfect Conditions at the 2010 Empire State Games

Getting Into The Games

I first heard of the Empire State Winter Games in late 2004. I began club running that year and started looking for races to do in the wintertime. Luckily, I saw that a fellow running club member, Michael Rogers, was hosting a 5k snowshoe qualifying race at Chestnut Ridge County Park in Orchard Park. The race took place in mid-January. Ironically, this race also met the qualifying standards for the 5k cross country for the Western New York Region of the ESWG.

I had never run in snowshoes before, let alone hiked in snowshoes, backpacked in snowshoes, walked in snowshoes, or even seen or heard of a pair of snowshoes. Basically, I didn’t even know what snowshoes were at this time. However, I convinced my dad to let me enter the race since you could rent snowshoes to use for the day. I went to the event, rented my snowshoes, competed and qualified!

2007 ESWG- starting cones with racers

And they’re off! Racers are getting started at the 2007 Empire State Winter Games.

After enjoying the 5k, I learned that the distance and sprint events (100m, 200m, 400m, 1500m)  had qualifying races at the end of January. However, the only place the races were held that met the qualifying standards in Western New York was Arcade Village Park. Dr. Dale Deahn hosted the event and used a snowmobile to make a 300-meter track. There were four lanes all the way around the track, each of which separated with small orange disc soccer cones. This setup, I learned, is the same as the games in Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, and at Paul Smiths. Furthermore, the 1500m was a waterfall start, and you could cut into the first lane after the 100-meter turn.

I raced in these qualifying races in Arcade from 2005-2010. Also, my father Tom Niziol competed in the qualifying races in Arcade. After successful qualifying, my dad bought be a pair of Northern Lites Elite Race Snowshoes and a pair of Havlick Sprinter snowshoes.

Adam Niziol at ESWG 2005

The author excited to be at my first games in 2005

Memories Of The Games

Just as with the early games, the conditions and trails are always memorable. The worst year was in 2006, where the temperatures were in the single digits and may have even been below zero. There were also strong winds, and close to a foot of snow fell during the races. At this point, the only way to warm up was to sit in your car with the heat on. When we were getting ready to leave, my dad and I got in the car and tried to start, and we couldn’t! Eventually, though, we were able to jump-start it and drove it back to Saranac Lake and bought a new battery.

My favorite and most memorable course was the 5k cross country trail event at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Cross Country Skiing & Biathlon Center in 2005 and 2007-2010. This 5k was a fantastic course and, in my opinion, probably the best place the event was ever held. The venue was historic, scenic, and challenging.

In 2006, the race was held at the Lake Placid Olympic Ski Jumping Complex and shorted to 2.9 miles due to the weather. Again, it was in the single digits with a was a strong wind. Thus, these are only a few memorable moments from the games over the years for me.

racers at ESWG in lots of snow

There was so much snow for racers at the 2006 Empire State Winter Games

Go Check Out The Empire State Winter Games!

Don’t miss the Empire State Winter Games on Jan 29- Feb 2, 2020! As a spectator or athlete, the games are sure to be filled with history, memorable events, or maybe even weather and conditions. This year, all snowshoeing events will be in Paul Smith’s, NY, on Saturday, February 1st.

Have you been to the Empire State Winter Games before? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!

Read More: Why Snowshoeing Should Be An Olympic Sport

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6 Solutions for the Dreaded Lean: A Word To Senior Athletes https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/01/14/6-solutions-for-the-dreaded-lean-a-word-to-senior-athletes/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/01/14/6-solutions-for-the-dreaded-lean-a-word-to-senior-athletes/#comments Tue, 14 Jan 2020 18:21:27 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=94532 The leaders’ gold and silver medals rested on the side of the awards table unperturbed. “Fast Eddie” Rousseau, pacing the lead on a February day, was on mile 70 of the 2019 USA Track & Field (USATF) 100-Mile Nationals in … Continue reading

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The leaders’ gold and silver medals rested on the side of the awards table unperturbed. “Fast Eddie” Rousseau, pacing the lead on a February day, was on mile 70 of the 2019 USA Track & Field (USATF) 100-Mile Nationals in Las Vegas. Suddenly, he suffered The Lean’s impact, which determined the outcome of this challenging ultradistance event. Unfortunately, many lead competitors fall under this spell afflicting senior athletes.

Read More: Hidden Secrets! Preparing For A Snowshoe Distance Event

girl inverted on a doorway

How to do inversion without an inversion device

About “The Lean”

The Lean, (aka stooping, slumping, humped-over) is an athlete’s burden. The condition is when one’s back slumps forward or bends sideways while the shoulders cave forward, and it seems commonplace among senior athletes. You know it when you see it, mostly in seniors over age 70.

Creating a unique set of problems, the Lean influences outcomes in competitions because of the wear and tear on the competitor and pain from attempting to complete the distance while battling to outlast the problem.

Oh, you’re not that age, this doesn’t pertain to you? Wrong, straight-back. Get there, first-of-all, then you’ll know what’s cooking, or should I say slumping? Why should you care? Because with luck and good habits you’ll live that long. If left unchecked, The Lean will impact your life outside of athletic endeavors, perhaps in a severe way.

Investigating The Lean For Senior Athletes

Chased by noted senior endurance athlete and the 2018 age-class gold medalist for this desert race, David Blaylock, “Fast Eddie” Rousseau exclaimed, “We both got the dreaded leans.” Minnesota’s well-known champion at many events and distances over the decades battled his competition and friend.  “Finally, he actually fell at the aid station and dropped out. Without him pushing me, I let the lean-pain slow me so much that at 88 miles, I was missing the cutoff and also had to drop.”

demonstration of the lean

Dr. Casey Moore demonstrating the rounding of shoulders, neck extension

The nemesis of senior athletes, both in their 70s, The Lean snatched those medals away from them and proudly stored them in its affliction-warehouse. If one ever gazed inside, the view would be of awards stacked and decaying, each full of memories of what might have been.

The lean-scene becomes another difficulty the master endurance athlete endures while covering those long ultra miles on trails, roads, snowshoes, or skis. Thus, we decided to delve deep into this subject. We wanted to find solutions with input with global experts and those who can offer methods to deal with “The Lean.” Then, we want to make them known. You can join us in that process.

Which works for you? The best approach, pick one or two, and get started. Try them all. While you’re at it, let others know what you discovered.

Table of Contents For Approaches

  1. Pushing The Wall
  2. Efficient Use Of Energy
  3. The Lovy Technique: Pressure On The Gluteus Muscles
  4. The Backward Stretch
  5. Anatomical Dysfunction: Lifestyle, Nutrition, Inversion
  6. Using Kettlebells

APPROACH 1: PUSHING THE WALL BY  DR. CASEY MOORE

Dr. Casey Moore, founder of Moore Chiropractic: A Family Wellness Center, begins his discussion of The Lean. “It used to be that the ‘posture’ concern was slouching and having your mother or grandmother say to sit up straight… Now, with technology ever-present, particularly smartphones, our posture concern is now a forward ‘lean” as opposed to a slouch.”

Becoming Aware

demonstration of exercise to help the lean for senior athletes

The exercise to cure, stand with heels against the wall with shoulders and head touching the wall

Dr. Moore notes the impact The Lean can have on our bodies for all ages. “Our postures have begun to lean forward, starting with the head and neck, and ultimately leading to a full upper body lean out over our legs. This new posture creates a tremendous amount of strain initially on our lower neck. [Moreover], the further the lean progresses, the more it moves down the spine from the mid to ultimately the lower.”

He continues, “As a chiropractor (officed in Edina, Minnesota), I am seeing this effect in younger and younger ages with now, after ten years in practice, seeing a drastic increase in headaches and neck issues in children and teens. The biggest key to avoidance of this issue is simply awareness. Then once aware of the issue, you have the ability to stop the progression of it and begin to reverse it with some simple exercises.”

Exercises To Help The Lean

Dr. Moore shares his advice for senior athletes afflicted with The Lean. He notes that “The easiest [exercise] is routinely checking or correcting the issue by standing with your back and heels to the wall. [Then], pull your posture up and back such that your shoulders and head also come in contact with the wall. You can treat this activity like any other stretch or exercise by holding the proper position for 30 seconds, relaxing then repeating. This [exercise] can and should be done throughout the day, particularly for those spending hours behind a computer, tablet, or cell phone.”

The activity might seem simplistic, especially for senior endurance athletes, but not once you begin using it. You will feel it, particularly in your weaker areas.

APPROACH 2: EFFICIENT USE OF ENERGY BY DR. LUCAS MACMILLAN

Dr. Lucas MacMillan is a naturopathic physician in North Vancouver, B.C. Canada and shares his knowledge on how to have a healthier back. He used references to the book ProHealth Systems where he is also a contributing author. Dr. MacMillan says, “I included an image (see below) showing that different postures affect our backs to differing extents – it speaks to the pressure on our spinal disks when laying down, standing, hunching, etc. Here are the points that I feel are worth focusing on.”

Remaining Efficient

To help stay injury-free and enjoy life long-running or your chosen sport, Dr. MacMillan says, “Efficiency–our best athletic performances require efficient uses of energy. If we are using energy inefficiently, we will get tired faster. To exaggerate this, imagine cross country skiing with knees always bent to 90 degrees. We would tire incredibly fast, because our muscles are doing all of the work, rather than standing more upright and using our bone structure to keep us up, which takes very little energy. Eventually, our legs would tire, and the rest of our body would be forced to compensate for these tired muscles, leading to more inefficiencies and further decreasing performance.”

The second point for all athletes, senior athletes included, is on general injury and warming up before your event. Dr. MacMillan says, “The two greatest times of injury are at the beginning and the end of an event. This is because our risk of injury is high when we are not warmed up, and again when our muscles are most fatigued. Inefficient movements lead to worsened fatigue, which increases injury risk.”

Read More: Run Rabbit Run: Transition From Running To Snowshoe Racing

To get the most of your preferred sport, Dr. MacMillan explains, “We need to be efficient, meaning we need to let our bones support most of our weight, and use our muscles to move. [Efficiency] is what happens with a relatively upright posture. Excessive forward-leaning at the hips or the back forces our muscles to carry much of the weight and may increase the risk of fatigue, pain, and injury. Ask your friends and people who are familiar with the sport to assess your posture while snowshoeing; you’ll get a better sense of whether this is a concern for you.”

demonstration of stretching

Stretch anywhere, anytime.

Spinal Pressure & Proper Posture

He continues, “Spinal Pressure: Our spinal posture greatly changes the amount of load placed on our vertebral disks, those jelly shock absorbers between our backbones. When the pressure goes up, the chances of pushing the disc out or getting a slipped-disc goes up. Studies have shown that a slouching posture can roughly double the pressure on the discs in our lower back. The pressures can go up almost five times if we are hunched forward while holding a 20kg weight”.

Spinal posture is not only vital for senior athletes but recreational snowshoers as well. As Dr. MacMillian states, “While most snowshoers are not carrying these weights, they often do have backpacks. [Furthermore] they very likely have moments of increased impact, such as when the ground is different than expected for a step, or if we misstep due to fatigue. This increases the wear-and-tear on our back, which increases the risk of injury”.

Muscle pain and strain can also cause pain. “One predictable way to induce muscle pain is to place it in a stretched position or to force it to contract for an extended period. If you have fallen asleep on a plane, your neck has probably experienced this. Hunching forward for an extended time does both of these things as many back muscles are stretched, forced to contract constantly, or both. This likely leads to pain in the lower, mid, or upper back over time.”

Read More: Chiropractor Approved Injury Prevention Tips For Snowshoers

chart related to disc load for the lean and senior athletes

Dr. MacMillan offers this graph to demonstrate disc load (pressure) from standing to handling deadlifts

Tools To Address The Lean

So what should senior athletes do to address our posture and limit spinal stress? Dr. MacMillian shares his advice. “To correct our posture, there are a few things that need to be addressed.

Awareness & Running More Upright

The first is awareness, which this article will hopefully help to improve. Once you know something can be improved, you are empowered to improve it.

The second is the endurance of the muscles involved. If you tend to hunch or lean forward excessively, your body has probably adapted to this by strengthening some muscles and elongating others. This means that trying to run in a more upright posture will initially feel awkward and tiring until the muscles adapt”. As with any technical changes, try to incorporate them in short practice rounds that are gradually built up, and never during long or competitive events.”

Kinesio Tape 

He continues, “Another tool that can be helpful is Kinesio tape (also known as K-tape). This stretchy adhesive fabric sticks to your back. If applied appropriately, it can keep your awareness of your posture. It is used all the time to prevent the usual postural slumping that occurs subconsciously in desk workers and others prone to postural imbalance.

It works by applying gentle but very noticeable pressure to your skin when you start to hunch forward, so you are always made aware of when you start to slip into a forward curve of the spine. The tape easily lasts an event and can last for a few days with many people. While it is best to have it applied by someone trained in its use (physiotherapist, kinesiologist, chiropractor, naturopathic physician), YouTube has many freely available videos on how to do this. Though it will need another person to help you, and probably some trial and error.”

Overall, “Correcting [your posture] can be a process. [It] should be done over time and with small outings rather than on long or competitive events so you can gradually and safely make the changes. Kinesio tape, simple core exercises, and knowledge can all be very helpful in improving posture and exercise efficiency. A well-trained, sports-focused therapist can help speed this process so you can get back to the fun faster, and with less pain and fatigue.”

Braveheart Jim McDonnell

“You WILL stand straight!” (USSSA National Championships, Eau Claire, Wisconsin)

APPROACH 3: THE LOVY TECHNIQUE BY DR. ANDREW LOVY

Fast Eddie, a senior athlete noted above and afflicted by The Lean, mentioned, “I am thinking of the best sports medicine doctor I have met. [I am] very fortunate to know [him] and helped by him at all major ultra races over almost 30 years. Dr. Andy Lovy. Andy, as I dare call him, has dug into all kinds of physical discomfort issues that runners suffer in ultras, included the dreaded lean.”

Dr. Andrew Lovy, arrived in America in 1940, at age five from Budapest, Hungary. He enjoys a curriculum vitae that could hold its own as a single article. Instead, here is a short version: He completed his Post Graduate Internship in 1962-1963 at Mount Clemens General Hospital, Michigan. Then, most recently, he acted as the Official Team Doctor for the 24-hour US World Championship Team (2007-2017).

Additionally, he has served as Clinical Adjunct Professor at Lincoln Memorial University and DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (2008), an Honorary Life Member, American Academy of Osteopathy (2013), and Medical Director Preferred Health Care, Missouri (2017). Finally, what may be the most unusual, but a favorite position was the 2013 Official Doctor for the all-female Kirksville Viqueens, a flat track Roller Derby team.

roller derby photo

The Viqueens are battling a flat track derby bout.

The Lean Has A History

Dr. Lovy shares, “The lean has been a problem for many runners over the years, and I was told, once it develops, there is very little that can be done about it. I faced the issue about 15 years ago at Surgerres when Roy Pirrung, a champion masters ultra runner, developed it. I could get rid of it for a while, but it kept coming back, so what I was doing was only temporarily reducing it.”

He continues, “I began to study the phenomena at greater length, read everything about running mechanics I could find. [I] took biomechanical courses on gait mechanisms and the biochemistry of muscles as they fatigue and why those particular muscles are involved. Eventually, [I] found a better solution and was able to minimize and, in some cases, completely eliminate it for an event. I tried my technique on many runners and, at a few 24-hour races, provided medical care to many runners. I used my newly found technique on some who leaned and did everything I could.”

Dr Lovy and Eddie Rousseau - senior athletes and the lean

Jimmie Barnes, fellow athlete, (r) with “Fast Eddie” Rousseau

The Lovy Discovery

But, not on all. He found that those senior athletes who were administered the technique stopped leaning. Then, “The others continued leaning during the event. I taught it to some of my medical students who accompanied me to 24 and 48-hour events, and they too had success, so we know it works.

He continues, “Now the hard part. And this is more my theory than proven fact, but the theory is about as good as anyone else’s until a better theory evolves. Those who lean, lean in the same direction when it happens, regardless of the direction of the course. So it is more a muscle issue of the individual than fatigue in muscles resulting from the direction of the course.

A forward lean hampers this snowshoer

My theory is that some muscles and usually the same muscles in that individual selectively run out of potassium, causing those muscles to stop firing. When that happens, the muscles on the other side still fire normally, causing the body to lean in the direction of those muscles that are still firing. Adding potassium does little when it happens, and the athlete continues to lean. I studied the firing sequence and read more literature on that and discovered that the sequence had been permanently altered for that event and needed to be reversed, and the sequence had to be ‘reset.'”

Luckily for all senior athletes out there, Dr. Andy Lovy discovered that he could reverse The Lean.

The Lean & Pressure To The Gluteus Muscles

Dr. Lovy notes the importance of the gluteus muscles in recovery from The Lean. Gluteus muscles are the muscles of the buttocks. They stretch from the back portion of the hipbone to the top of the thighbone. Or, as Dr. Lovy puts it, “There is a plexus of nerves or a nerve itself under the Gluteus minimus that is a controlling factor. Putting the person on their stomach, palpating under the gluteus maximus, then under the gluteus medius, until one gets to the Gluteus minimus on the side of the direction of the lean is the key”.

Once on the muscles, “Direct pressure on that area for about 30-40 seconds seems to reset the sequence. Then we do the standard stretch routine on that part of the body, [and] give them supplemental potassium or a banana. [Then], the person, within a half-mile, stops leaning, and usually for the balance of the event. Sometimes not, and we have to do it again. It seems to work every time.”

senior athletes

Not all lean is forward. (L-R) Jim Fiste, Jimmy Barnes, Newton Baker, Fast Eddie Rousseau

However, the process is different for each senior athlete. “At the Six-Day Dome (ultra-race), there was a lady who leaned quite badly after just eight hours. We applied the technique that helped, but the lean returned in a few hours. Did it a second time with the same results, and the same thing happened. I tried it one more time and felt that this would be one person where the technique failed. I did notice, however, that by day two, the lean was completely gone and did not return for the rest of the (event), resulting in her winning her age group. We also used the same technique on others and stopped the lean, so I know we are on to something, but still working on perfecting the technique. So far, we have found that the earlier we can get to it, the better the results.”

Continual Improvement On The Technique

There is a continual improvement on Dr. Lovy’s technique as well. He notes, “Dr. Snyder, the Chair of OMM at ATSU, has shown me another trigger point on the innominate bone (think hipbone .Ed) that should have the same effect, so we are trying that one out as well. Not ready to publish, but I am doing it and have trained many of my students in the technique, and they all report success in preventing or minimizing the lean.”

Also, senior athletes should keep a lookout for susceptibility to the Lean. Dr. Lovy emphasizes that the sooner The Lean is discovered, the better. “On some athletes that we know lean, we work on them the night before, or if possible before the event begins. We use the same technique, and in some, it has prevented the lean from developing.  There is more, of course, but this is a start. My theory may be flawed, but the techniques do work.” And that’s how the Lovy Technique came to be.

APPROACH 4: THE BACKWARD STRETCH

demonstration of backward stretch for senior athletes and the lean

The backward stretch. One should exaggerate the stretch as far as possible.

Consulting with a physician who works with professional teams in the Twin Cities area (and must remain incognito), the advice offered falls into the category of, oops, a “backward stretch.”

The idea expresses as a cancellation of the effect of The Lean. Another way to view this, think a reverse-lean, one that forces muscles and bones to counteract the typical forward lean. Stretch back as far as you can without tipping over while allowing your hands to slide down the back of your legs.

Read More: Back To Basics: Back Exercises For Snowshoers

 

APPROACH 5: ANATOMICAL DYSFUNCTION BY DR. JEFF KILDAHL

Dr. Jeff Kildahl scribes from coastal Rhode Island, but his heart beats for his beloved Rocky Mountains and Colorado. His practical wisdom continues not only as Snowshoe Magazine’s Wellness Editor but also with his forward-thinking company Performance Medicine®. Performance Medicine is “a visionary consulting firm providing trail runners and snowshoe racers synergistic solutions to genetically transcend wellness, performance, and potential in life and sport.”

Biomechanical Fluidity Is A Synergistic Process

He explains, “This process includes nutrition planning, nutrient timing, supplementation, strength training, cardiovascular training, kinesthetic training, sleep/regeneration, mindset, apparel, gear, accessories, apps, wearable technology, recovery, and the rest of it.

The focus of attaining effortless, powerful running for years was the foot strike. The typical running gait includes both supination and pronation or placing weight on both the outside and inside of your foot. Foot strike, stance, and swing are essential components. However, balance, awareness of the position of your pelvis, and actively moving forward the gluteus muscles create an efficient running stride.

Runners and sport snowshoers need to focus on their hips and core if s/he is interested in optimizing biomechanical fluidity, maximizing speed, and mitigating injury. The cause [pelvic region] versus the effect [foot strike] of the kinetic whip ought to predominate performance enhancement goals.

The Price of Our Lifestyles

Cause and effect play significant roles in sabotaging our exertion, thanks to environmental factors. As we run, each stride must go through an eccentric (muscle lengthening) phase before any concentric (muscle shortening) phase as muscle lengthening activates muscle shortening.

However, our lifestyles expose our biomechanical running and snowshoeing inefficiencies and compromise our performance. As noted above, a phenomenon termed “runners lean” has increasingly grown amid our sacred running and snowshoeing venues.

Prolonged sitting has infiltrated our daily lives to the point of becoming our performance demise. Thus, the Lean could be yet another by-product of our lack of awareness in other disciplines. The culprit: “Gluteal Amnesia.

Prolonged Sitting & The Impact On Our Muscles

Gluteal Amnesia is when your gluteal region “forgets” how to properly activate muscle contraction. Sitting for hours each day shortens and tightens hip flexors and deactivates our powerful gluteal muscles – especially when we need propulsion on the trails!

This concept of reciprocal inhibition is when one muscle group (hip flexors) creates length in its opposing muscle group (glutes). The occurrence of this concept cancels activation of the compromised muscle group – resulting in neurons that misfire or fail to fire – and the compromised muscles fail to contract.

The repetitive nature of running and snowshoeing makes the tightening of our hip flexor muscles worse. As noted above, we cannot expect a muscle to shorten without first lengthening. Therefore, if your gluteal nerves and muscles fail to function correctly, the rest of your body will be adversely impacted.

Proper gluteal activation is critical because it helps to stabilize the pelvis, and the biomechanics of the lower extremities depend on this stability. Lost elasticity of the muscles from prolonged sitting or inactivity can lead to a lack of strength and mobility in the gluteal plexus.

Ed Raymaker, senior athlete, snowshoe racing in Maine

Ed Raymaker, the “Gordie Howe” of snowshoe racing in Maine, proves too quick for the cameras.

Furthermore, an inactive gluteal region will cause an array of insidious postural and performance issues such as altered running gait, imbalances, asymmetrical firing patterns in the gluteal plexus, hips, and lower extremities, lower back pain, neck pain, spinal trauma, and more.

Poor posture (pelvic versus ankle lean) typically occurs in varying degrees and angles. Poor posture could be due to the hamstrings compensating for the deactivated gluteal musculature, overstriding versus increased cadence, and short stride length, shallow (chest) versus deep (diaphragmatic or nasal) breathing, and so forth.

Potassium As A Co-conspirator

Along with the impact prolonged sitting has on The Lean for senior athletes, potassium also plays a role. Potassium is the primary mineral located inside the body’s cells (intracellular) and stored in muscle fibers along with glycogen. It plays a critical role in transporting glucose into the muscle cells.

Potassium assists in the conduction of nerve impulses and interacts with both sodium and chloride to regulate fluid and electrolyte balances. When glycogen breaks down to supply energy for exertion, muscle cells are depleted of potassium.

Potassium is critical to “reset” the nerve for the next contraction or activity. It profoundly impacts sports performance in the following ways:

  • Blood pressure;
  • Muscle contractions;
  • Nerve resets;
  • Fluid/nutrient regulation;
  • Energy production (ATP – adenosine triphosphate)

Potassium is essential to the process of breaking down glycogen in the muscle cells, which helps with repeated muscle contractions during endurance exercise. Glycogen is broken down, and the muscle cells are depleted of potassium before it enters the bloodstream and leaves the body via urination or sweat.

To maintain your level of performance, a system termed the sodium-potassium pump is critical. It is the process of transporting potassium and sodium to produce energy.

athlete stretching in a field

Stretching and leaning back (photo credit Bill Ringer @Unsplash)

Maintaining Your Metabolic Efficiency

The first nutrition limiter to endurance sports performance is depleted glycogen stores. One key to peak performance is Metabolic Efficiency™. This concept demonstrates sports performance excellence because of your diet, not in spite of it. A by-product of metabolic efficiency™ is its innumerable benefits respective to health markers.

Metabolic Efficiency™ is the body’s ability to utilize endogenous stores of carbohydrate and fat at varying intensities and duration of exercise and rest.

Elevated blood sugar or a sodium-potassium imbalance will incite mayhem such as an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body, impaired protein processing, lack of oxygen to the body, and deactivation of the “firing sequence” of the gluteal musculature.

Read More: Metabolic Inefficiency & Impact On Your Peak Performance

The Law of Polarity: Inversion As A Tool For The Lean

The key to running and snowshoeing biomechanical fluidity is to address issues with balance, awareness of the position of your pelvis, gluteus muscles, and the environment factors sabotaging your desired outcomes.

woman inverted

Let the Inversion begin!

Only strengthening your gluteal musculature via jump training, squats, yoga, and other modalities are not enough. Being mindful of your joints, muscles, alignment, and so forth is integral to optimizing performance and mitigating injury. One must “feel” the balance and propulsion from his/her core region and mindfully merge breath and posture each foot strike.

Inversion imparts more than merely hanging upside down. The degree to which you invert is dependent upon your needs and acclimation tolerance.

It is typical practice to invert 20-30 degrees for a few minutes each session and adjust to full inversion (90 degrees) through gradual progression and consistency. Most health care practitioners recommend intermittent traction or oscillation.

Inversion offers endurance athletes, senior or otherwise, a lightweight, easy-to-use method of optimizing your physiology. Hanging upside-down may incur mind-blowing perspectives on more than just running or snowshoeing.

Inversion therapy may be a plausible preventative and recovery option to mitigate precursors to “runners lean” in a few sessions per week. Find below a few benefits:

  • Strengthens ligaments;
  • Improves posture;
  • Elongates your spine;
  • Reverses effects of gravity;
  • Elongates core to promote better posture;
  • Promotes proficient muscle firing;
  • Thwarts muscle spasms;
  • Improves lymphatic flow;
  • Increases circulation;
  • Corrects hip alignment;
  • Enhances oxygenation;
  • Improves capillary proliferation;
  • Enhances blood flow to muscles/tissue;
  • Relieves inflammation – joints, hips, muscles;
  • Elongates muscle fibers;
  • Restores harmony to vital organs;
  • Improves the integrity of fascia, muscles, and connective tissue;
  • Relieves muscle tension;
  • Strengthens joints and ligaments;
  • Enhances joint decompression;
  • Relieves stress;
  • Normalizes ear canals;
  • Improves balance;
  • Varicose veins treatment;
  • Increases hip flexion;
  • And much more.

Supplemental Inversion Exercises & Tools

In addition to inversion, athletes can include a variety of exercises on his/her table. Some activities that may provide further benefits include stretching, crunches, squats, extensions, and so forth. There is an extensive list of accessories available from handles, tether straps, foam pads, and the like depending on the manufacturer.

Read More: Don’t Forget To Stretch For Snowshoeing

tools for inversion

Extreme stretching isn’t bragging if you can do it

Prices for inversion equipment vary dramatically among manufacturers and distributors. There are several discounted inversion tables and chairs available from online distributors such as Zearth.com, AllegroMedical.com, and so forth. Specialty retailers, like Better Back Many stores sell versions of these products priced $500 and more. HSN.com features Teeter Hang-Ups—long considered the benchmark for inversion products—at a reduced cost ($299) via monthly payments with shipping included plus instructional videos.

Check with specialty retail outlets, physical therapy centers, chiropractors, and other health care practitioners to test inversion after receiving approval from your physician. You will notice its benefits within minutes at any angle.”

APPROACH 6: KETTLEBELL SWINGS

The Kettlebell invasion of the USA led to a new and distinctive method to strengthen one’s core. With a strong midsection, your body holds you upright. Without it, you slump and clump.

Furthermore, Kettlebell swings direct attention right to your hips and mid-body if performed correctly. Swings are not moving the weight with your arms back-and-forth. Instead, one uses their hip (and therefore all its muscles) to push and launch the kettlebell forward to then glide back through split legs. This video from Bodyfit by Amy provides a thorough visual for best practices.

Using Kettlebells for this purpose may take five minutes max. So the excuse “I haven’t the time” gets thrown out the window. Your Excuse Tray is now empty, so go after it. When you’re racing a long competition, you can thank your “Hell’s Bells” for Kettlebells as your posture now defines the word “straight.” As you practice, continue extending the time involved and the ability to keep the motion going.

Read More: Kettlebell Training: The Snowshoe Racer’s New Friend

OVERALL: FINDING A SOLUTION FOR THE LEAN

The Lean, at times, works to a competitor’s advantage. “Fast Eddie” gave this account of the 2018 24-Hour Nationals, in Edgewater Park, Cleveland, Ohio. “Michael Haviland was well ahead of me and Newton when his painful lean came on. He had to go to his tent and lay down for several hours. At the time I recall, he’s at 60 miles, and I was at 52.

So I won that age-class Gold Medal with a nagging hamstring pain hampering my pace, but my back lean pain tolerable, so I kept grinding out miles for the entire 24 hours. The dreaded lean moved me from third to first in the last 4 hours, proving the old adage in a 24 Hour Race, that ‘The race starts at 20 hours for those still standing.'”

Taking Action Against The Lean From All Ages

Take action to combat The Lean if you currently suffer it or are showing signs of succumbing to its jungle ways. “No lean for me, I’m just straight up and down” reads like a right attitude, but typically from a much younger athlete.

Dr. Lovy commented, “If one or more of those work for an individual runner, by all means, use it. I have seen many elite runners lose races and championships because of the lean. Much more study needs to be made to understand its mechanism and help runners either prevent it from happening or address it as soon as it happens”.

Plus, from Dr. Lovy’s standpoint, “…It is not just a senior issue. More likely and more often appears in older runners since they probably do not have the defenses against it as active as when they were younger, but I have seen it in 30-year-old athletes as well. Usually, when that happens though, there are more visible imbalance issues that wear the person down as the race continues and that may need to be addressed. Seldom happens in shorter events since most runners’ muscles do not fatigue as profoundly or as often in the shorter events. I have seen it in marathoners, especially if they go harder than their training warrants, or are dehydrated. Anyway, much more research needs to be done before we have the final word. Only ‘final word’ I know is, for most individuals, exercise is good for you!”

So, start now and avoid a roadblock standing in your way some time or somewhere down the pike. Help others to make sure they understand why they should be overjoyed to discover these techniques that may help with their problem. Go ahead; get mean with The Lean!

Read More:
Snowshoeing For Seniors: Into Your 70s and Beyond
Hidden Secrets! Preparing For A Snowshoe Distance Event

Have you ever had the Lean while snowshoe racing? What recommendations would you have for other senior athletes?

senior snowshoe racing winners

Senior snowshoe athletes collecting their medals


Dopamine’s Relation To The Lean

An excellent question was posed by a reader dealing with Parkinson’s Disease: “As you age, you produce less dopamine. Could it be that the dreaded lean comes not from your muscles but your brain?” We asked Dr. Jeff Kildahl his take on this, and how to deal with it. He wrote, “Dopamine certainly would impact a condition such as ‘The Lean.’ Dopamine is a hormone and a neurotransmitter.

PD is a disease in which low dopamine levels disrupt the brain’s ability to control body movements. More research is necessary to determine an exercise type, intensity, and duration that best boosts dopamine levels. Exercise several times per week has shown to improve motor control in people with PD.

Our bodies require several vitamins and minerals to create dopamine like iron, niacin, folate, and B6. L-tyrosine is a cognitive enhancer. Diagnostic assessments will identify any deficiency in said vitamins and minerals. Proper nutrition plus magnesium, vitamin D, curcumin, oregano oil/extract, green tea, probiotics, adequate sleep, sunshine, and natural food sources of L-dopa.

Some of those sources include:

–> Fava Beans;
–> Dairy;
–> Beef | Chicken | Turkey;
–> Omega-3s –> Salmon | Mackerel | Flax Seeds;
–> Eggs;
–> Fruits | Veggies [especialy Bananas];
–> Almonds | Walnuts;
–>  Dark Chocolate (yea! ed.)

Additional Sources:

–>  EAAS (Essential Amino Acids)
–>  Probiotics;
–>  Increased Protein Intake;
–>  Decreased Saturated Fat Intake;

Dopamine does not cross the blood-brain barrier and cannot be utilized as a treatment for PD.
Levodopa is a drug that does access the blood-brain barrier and is converted to dopamine.
Prescriptions incur side effects.”

Snowshoe Magazine Writers:

Dr. Jeff Kildahl            Jeff@pmsynergy.com  Twitter: @PM_Synergy

Christine Blanchette  ChristineBlanchette@Hotmail.com Twitter: @ChristineRuns

Phillip Gary Smith       Phillip@UltraSuperior.com Twitters: @iHarmonizing @UltraSuperior @TheEclectic18

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Top Four Vancouver, B.C. Snowshoeing Outings for Every Level of Ability https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/01/08/top-four-vancouver-b-c-snowshoeing-outings-for-every-level-of-ability/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/01/08/top-four-vancouver-b-c-snowshoeing-outings-for-every-level-of-ability/#respond Wed, 08 Jan 2020 23:37:33 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=94934 Often described as a premier playground destination for the outdoor enthusiast, the picturesque backdrop of the city of Vancouver, British Columbia lies less than a half-hour drive from the North Shore Mountains and the tony neighborhoods of West Vancouver. Known … Continue reading

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Often described as a premier playground destination for the outdoor enthusiast, the picturesque backdrop of the city of Vancouver, British Columbia lies less than a half-hour drive from the North Shore Mountains and the tony neighborhoods of West Vancouver. Known for its mild temperatures across Canada, Vancouver is a year-round haven for golfers and runners and, from November to April, is also ideal for those who enjoy winter sports such as snowshoeing.

At sea level, it’s easy to forget how close we are to a winter wonderland of snowcapped mountains which beckon to make it a day outing. Snowshoeing is an exhilarating experience enjoyed solo or with family and friends.  Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned athlete, here are four top places to go snowshoeing near the Vancouver area:

group snowshoeing in Grouse Mountain, BC - near Vancouver

Have fun snowshoeing at Grouse Mountain. Photo courtesy Grouse Mountain.


Whistler

About a two-hour drive from Vancouver, you’ll find Whistler, British Columbia. Here, the snowshoe enthusiast can enjoy a day trip or stay overnight and make it a mini-vacation.

Ski Callaghan 

Ski Callaghan provides access to Whistler Olympic Park and Callaghan Country Wilderness Adventures, two adjacent snowshoeing areas in Whistler. Purchase a daily pass for access to the combined trail network of over 120 km (75 mi) of trails in Whistler Olympic Park and Callaghan Country.

At Whistler Olympic Park, explore over 30 km (18.6 mi) of trails on your own or book a two-hour tour via phone or email. Take in breathtaking viewpoints while you snowshoe and enjoy the photo opportunities of gorgeous Olympic monuments. An optional shuttle or biathlon experience can also be added to the tour.

Alternatively, snowshoe the wild backcountry at Callaghan Country Wilderness Adventures or explore over 35 km of marked trails, ranging from easy to advanced, at Ski Callaghan. You can snowshoe a variety of landscapes, from a waterfall base to an Olympic ski jump to forests full of cedar trees.

For our furry friends, Whistler Olympic Park, Callaghan Country Wilderness Adventures, and Ski Callaghan all offer dog-friendly trails as well.

Lost Lake Cross Country Ski & Snowshoe Trails

Joanne Clark, a coordinator with travel media in Whistler shares her recommendations. She says, “There is The Lost Lake Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Trails, which have more than 30km (18.6 mi) of ski trails and more than 10km (6.2 mi) of dedicated snowshoe trails. Beautiful, marked snowshoe trails wind through the forest of Lost Lake Park, accessing scenic viewpoints along the way. Visit the cozy log warming hut perched on the shores of Lost Lake.” These snowshoe trails are located near Lost Lake PassivHaus, which is a short walk from Whistler Village and the trails are suitable for all levels of abilities.

Whistler, BC- snowshoeing near Vancouver

The gorgeous mountains of Whistler, BC. Image by ArtTower from Pixabay

Guided Tours Near Whistler

For those interested in seeing the landscape with a guide, there are snowshoeing tours and self-guided walks that can be arranged, and all levels are welcomed. Clark notes that, “…Both the Adventure Group and Canadian Wilderness Adventures offer guided snowshoe tours which can be booked online.”

More Information on snowshoeing around Vancouver, visit Tourism Whistler.

Read More: BC Luxury Snowshoe Getaways


Grouse Mountain, North Vancouver

About a half-hour drive from downtown Vancouver, spend a day at Grouse Mountain. Participate in one of their many activities such as their Snowshoe Fondue, and Snowshoe and S’ mores tour. There are also drop-in nights on Mondays and Wednesdays. If you have never tried snowshoeing, there are trails for beginners and a beginner clinic.

Read More: No. 9 Snowshoe Friendly Ski Resort: Grouse Mountain, BC

Snowshoe Tours At Grouse Mountain

The Snowshoe fondue is a one hour guided tour, and one can experience snowshoeing with headlamps. Après snowshoe, enjoy some cheese, broth and chocolate fondues. Tour includes snowshoe and headlamp rentals.

There is also the Snowshoe S’mores tour. Enjoy the one km snowshoe tour and then continue onto the lookout of Vancouver, and then return to a campfire where you will enjoy S’mores and hot apple cider.

Alternatively, if you would like watching the night sky, watch it on the mountain and see the cityscape by participating in the Full Moon and New Moon guided snowshoe hike tours.

view of Vancouver from Grouse Mountain

View overlooking Vancouver from Grouse Mountain. Photo courtesy of Grouse Mountain.

Snowshoe Trails At Grouse Mountain

For those looking for a self-guided adventure, Grouse Mountain also offers 5 different snowshoe-specific trails. You may choose to snowshoe the easier 1.5 km Blue Grouse Loop or the more difficult 1.5 km (0.9 mi) Dam Mountain Loop, sitting at 4,500 feet (1372 m) on the mountain.

Then, for those interested in snowshoe races and athletes, try the Snowshoe Grind. Located on the mountain in Munday Alpine Snowshoe Park, this 4.3 km (2.7 mi) trail with 240 m (787 ft) of gain will provide all racers the opportunity to boost your athletic performance. As part of the Grind, you can track your times around the course to continue to challenge yourself. On average though, the track takes about one hour to complete for those who are reasonably fit.

Please keep in mind that all trails are included with a Mountain Admission Ticket. Visit Grouse Mountain 

Read More: Grouse Mountain Snowshoe Grind Delivers Fun & Fitness


Cypress Mountain, West Vancouver

About a half-hour drive from downtown, Cypress Mountain offers varied terrain for both intermediate and beginners. Choose either guided and about 11 km (6.8 mi) self-guided trails at Cypress Mountain Nordic Area. Snowshoe rentals are offered as well.

Snowshoe Tours At Cypress Mountain

If you are new to snowshoeing the Hollyburn Meadows Tour is a two-hour tour and an excellent introduction to snowshoeing. Plus, you’ll get to learn the culture and history of the Hollyburn Ridge area.

Alternatively, for an apres experience, there are several options. On the cheese and chocolate fondue tour, enjoy snowshoeing with a headlamp at night, followed by a delicious fondue dinner.

All available tours can be found at Cypress Mountain Guided Snowshoe Tours.

Cypress Mountain, BC

Explore the beauty of Cypress Mountain. Photo courtesy of Cypress Mountain

Cypress Provincial Park

At Cypress Provincial Park, enjoy some spectacular views of the city of Vancouver and the surrounding area.

The moderate Hollyburn Ridge trail is a 6.9 kilometer (4.3 mi) out and back trail, which meanders among the ponds and old-growth cedars of the area, and is dog-friendly. Or for a leisurely stroll, the Yew Lake trail is a 10-15 min trail perfect for beginners. If you’re up for a challenge (and view of the city), take the Eagle Bluff trail for 2-3 hours to reach an elevation of 3500 feet (1067 m).


Mt Seymour, North Vancouver

About a half-hour drive from downtown, make it a day getaway that offers both guided and self-guided tours. Explore the variety offered as part of the 12 Mt. Seymour Discovery trails on your own or with a guide. Snowshoe rentals are available.

Read More: 7 Reasons To Snowshoe On Vancouver’s Mt. Seymour

Guided Snowshoe Tours At Mt. Seymour Ski

For those wanting a guide, choose from tours for all experience levels offered by Mt. Seymour. If you’re a newbie to snowshoeing, Mt. Seymour offers their 2-hour Intro to Snowshoeing Tour, which introduces the basic techniques, safety measures, and prime spots on the mountain.

Other offerings include the Chocolate Fondue Tour for the apres lover or the 2-hour Twilight Tour for the adventurous night explorer! All tours come with knowledgable guides and rental equipment. Find all tours available (even tours for you and your baby) on Mt. Seymour Snowshoe Tours. 

Read More: No 1 Snowshoe Friendly Ski Resort: Mt Seymour, BC

Mt Seymour Fondue Tour

Snowshoe and apres at the Mt Seymour Fondue Tour. Photo by Blake Rupert @exploreofcourse

Mt. Seymour Provincial Park

Mt. Seymour Ski area is located on 81 acres of Mount Seymour Provincial Park. The park itself is 3500 hectares of impressive views of the Lower Mainland, Mt. Baker, and Vancouver. The Provincial Park has 14 different trails of varying lengths and difficulty levels. For example, easy 750 m (0.46 mi) trails, such as Dinky Peak, will offer a view of the Lower Mainland.

Other popular trails part of Mount Seymour Provincial Park and on the Mt. Seymour Ski area include the Dog Mountain trail, which takes about two to three hours to complete. The marked trail is moderate but is good for beginners, and is free to use and is also, of course, if dog-friendly. One can see the city from the summit and one can use Mt Seymour snowshoe rentals on the trail.

As an alternative to Dog Mountain, hike the Mt. Seymour Trail (accessible from the last parking lot in Mt. Seymour Ski area) to First Pump Peak. This trail will take about three and a half hours to complete and is a moderate to difficult trail. It is an out and back course and the trail isn’t marked. Strong backcountry and avalanche preparedness and knowledge are required. Dogs are allowed. If needed, Mt. Seymour offers snowshoe rentals on site.


Go Snowshoeing Near Vancouver!

No matter what your fitness level, each venue has something for everyone. If you have never snowshoed before it can be a magical time to see some wildlife, perhaps a snow rabbit.

Read More: North America’s Top 10 Snowshoe-Friendly Ski Resorts


Updated Jan 21, 2020, to include additional information about Ski Callaghan

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Snowshoeing Greater Boston https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/01/06/snowshoeing-greater-boston/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/01/06/snowshoeing-greater-boston/#respond Mon, 06 Jan 2020 21:01:06 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=94916 If you live in Greater Boston, sneaking out to snowshoe should be on your to-do list after a significant snowfall. Snowshoeing is a great way to explore the outdoors and beat those winter blues! If in the Boston area, here … Continue reading

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If you live in Greater Boston, sneaking out to snowshoe should be on your to-do list after a significant snowfall. Snowshoeing is a great way to explore the outdoors and beat those winter blues! If in the Boston area, here are four great hikes to take on snowshoes this winter.

man on snowshoes in Blue Hills, snowshoeing near Boston

Snowshoeing just outside Boston in the Blue Hills

Blue Hills Reservation

Blue Hills Reservation, located only 30 minutes from the city, is one of the best places in Greater Boston to snowshoe after a big snowstorm. Perhaps the most popular destination within the Reservation is Great Blue Hill. The hill is the highest point within 10 miles (16 km) of the Atlantic Ocean between Maine and North Carolina.

Snowshoeing Great Blue Hill

Many hikers ascend Big Blue via the Red Dot Trail, which begins from the Blue Hills Ski Area’s parking lot on Route 138 in Milton. The trail leaves the parking lot near the main entrance to the Trailside Museum and follows red circular blazes as it climbs over snow-covered slabs, through a pleasant hardwood forest, and along the edge of the ski area. Just past halfway, the trail crosses Summit Road—likely plowed unless you’re really early. Then, it makes a final push up to Eliot Tower, which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and is a National Historic Landmark. For an excellent view of a snow-covered Greater Boston, make sure to venture up to the stone tower’s overlook!

The snowshoe up Big Blue typically takes around 30 minutes and is less than a mile (1.6 km) long. Even those with limited time can get back to the trailhead quickly by retracing their tracks on the Red Dot Trail. However, consider leaving enough time to make the 10-15 minute loop around Great Blue Hill’s summit.

Add The Eliot Circle Loop

The short and flat Eliot Circle Trail around the summit offers excellent views of Greater Boston and Boston Harbor, among other sights. The loop also goes right by the Blue Hills Meteorological Observatory, which is the oldest continuously operating observatory in the United States.

Then, once you return to Eliot Tower, the easiest option is to descend the way you came up. A less-trafficked option is to follow the northern branch of the Red Dot Trail—also called the Abigail Adams Trail—as it loops back to the Trailside Museum. If you’re looking to get some exercise breaking trail, this is the place to go!

Read More: Boston, MA: Top 5 Daytrips For Snowshoe Beginners

view from Blue Hills Eliot Tower- snowshoeing near Boston

The view from the Blue Hills’ Eliot Tower

Mount Wachusett

Derived from the Algonquin word meaning “mountain place,” Mount Wachusett is a beacon for snow seekers from central Massachusetts and further. It’s approximately 15 miles (24 km) from Worcester, 40 miles (64 km) from Boston, and 50 miles (80 km) from Providence. Overshadowed by its reputation as a ski destination, the 2,006-foot (611 m) Mount Wachusett is also home to 17 miles (27 km) of trails idyllic for snowshoeing.

Snowshoeing The Balance Rock Trail & Old Indian Trail

The most popular route with snowshoers leaves from the ski area parking lot on the Balance Rock Trail. Beginning gently, Balance Rock winds through the lush pines found on the lower mountain. Then it continues past the trail’s namesake—two large boulders stacked on top of one another, and the result of glacial activity thousands of years ago. Finally, the trail steepens as it joins the Old Indian Trail. If Wachusett’s mid-mountain lift is running, you might hear the jubilant sounds of happy skiers as they prepare to descend, as the lift is just a short bushwack through the woods.

Following the Old Indian Trail, you’ll snowshoe across the auto road once and trek right next to it a second time. After the second encounter with the road, the trail is at its steepest. Prepare for some fancy footwork as you negotiate the bouldery bits and one particularly steep (sometimes snow-free slab). If this seems too challenging to do in snowshoes, this section of the trail is easily avoidable by following the auto road to the top.

Just below the top of the mountain, you’ll again hear the sounds of skiers, as the summit lift is a short walk to your left once you exit the forest. Pop your head out and take a look at the mountain’s conditions. Or turn right toward the tower that marks the top and take in vast views extending to Mount Monadnock to the north, Mount Greylock to the west, and the Boston skyline to the east.

The most straightforward way down is to head back the way you came for a roughly five-mile (8 km) round trip. If time or energy is a concern, follow the road to its juncture with the Balance Rock Trail. The auto road is not plowed. However, snowmachines regularly use it to access the top of the mountain, typically leaving it well packed and making for reasonably easy snowshoeing.

boulders at Balance Rock Trail, Mount Wachusett, MA

The Balance Rock Trail’s namesake formation

Mount Watatic

About an hour outside Greater Boston is another excellent snowshoe destination: Mount Watatic. Located off Route 119 in Ashburnham, this 1,832-foot (558 m) peak offers magnificent views of southern New Hampshire, Mount Wachusett, and, in the distance, Boston’s skyline. Climbing through several spectacular stands of mature trees, the Wapack Trail ascends approximately 700 feet (213 m) over almost 3 miles (4.8 km) to Watatic’s open summit. In winter, it is a snowshoer’s paradise.

Many love snowshoeing at Mount Watatic because of its reliable and deep (for Massachusetts, anyway) snowpack. Others enjoy it because it does not see as much hiker traffic as some other Greater Boston classics. Thus, it’s easier to find some solitude in this winter wonderland. Another plus: Even when the main trail is tracked out, there’s usually optimal snow for snowshoeing on either side of the trail and all around the open summit.

Add Some Challenge!

For snowshoers looking for a more challenging outing, the eastern side of Mount Watatic was once a popular ski area and is now a popular destination for backcountry skiers. It’s a great place to slide into the backcountry.

Mount Watatic is also the southernmost peak of the Wapack Range. Established in 1923, the Wapack Trail is one of the country’s oldest multi-state hiking trails. Furthermore, it connects the Wapack Range’s ten summits in Massachusetts and New Hampshire throughout 22 miles (35 km). If you’re looking to tack on a few extra miles to your snowshoe adventure, the portion of the Wapack just north of Watatic is spectacular. Check it out before heading back down to your vehicle at the trailhead.

Read More: Walk (Or Snowshoe) In The Steps Of History In Concord, MA

Mount Watatic, MA - snowshoeing near Boston

Climbing Mount Watatic on snowshoes for a snowboard descent

Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary

Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon, Massachusetts, is another excellent under-the-radar destination for snowshoers looking to score post-storm freshies. Mass Audubon’s oldest wildlife sanctuary, there are 25 miles (40 km) of trails for snowshoers to explore.

Using the sanctuary’s trail map, snowshoers can build loops around this almost-2,000-acre property to suit their interests and time constraints. As you romp around the sanctuary’s forests and fields, be sure to take the Bluff Trail to the Bluff Overlook. Located on the northern side of the sanctuary, the Bluff Trail rewards snowshoers with fantastic views.

For those looking for an uphill workout, don’t miss the Summit Trail, which ascends to the sanctuary’s high point, 534-foot (163 m) Moose Hill. From the sanctuary’s visitor center, the Summit and Bluff Trails are easily connected via the Old Pasture and Turkey Trails. These trails make for a fantastic loop on your outing!

Whatever trails in the sanctuary you decide to explore, be on the lookout for the area’s abundant wildlife. In all likelihood, you’ll find fresh deer, turkey, and coyote tracks in the snow as you snowshoe around the sanctuary. Careful observers may spy the tracks for fishers and foxes as well.

Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, MA

Sunset at Moose Hill

Go Snowshoeing Near Boston

Greater Boston is packed with fantastic spots to snowshoe. However, it’s also densely populated, so plan on an early start if you’re dreaming about first tracks. Or, sleep in, let others pack in the trail, and cover maximum mileage later in the day.

What are your favorite areas to go snowshoeing near Boston?

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Brent Tor Devon: A Tiny Dartmoor Church With A Vast Outlook https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/01/01/brent-tor-devon-a-tiny-dartmoor-church-with-a-vast-outlook/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/01/01/brent-tor-devon-a-tiny-dartmoor-church-with-a-vast-outlook/#respond Wed, 01 Jan 2020 18:40:35 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=88805 Hike almost four miles (6.4 km) north of Tavistock in West Devon, United Kingdom, and you’ll discover something quite unique: the quaint village of Brentor. At first glance, it may seem much like any other village in Dartmoor National ParkContinue reading

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Hike almost four miles (6.4 km) north of Tavistock in West Devon, United Kingdom, and you’ll discover something quite unique: the quaint village of Brentor. At first glance, it may seem much like any other village in Dartmoor National Park. However, look again. Close by is a high volcanic tor, Brent Tor, which rises 1,100 feet (335 m) above sea level in Dartmoor. Furthermore, the tor supports the village church of St. Michael de Rupe.

About The Church & Surrounding Area

Dating from the 13th to 14th century, Brentor Church is tiny. As England’s 4th smallest parish, the church is 37 feet (11 m) long, 15 feet (4.6 m) wide, with a tower just 40 feet (12.2 m) high. But what it lacks in size- it seats around 40 people-, it makes up for with the view. In the church, you can catch a dramatic 360-degree sweep of Dartmoor and its surroundings.

On any point of the compass, the scenery is spectacular. You’ll see Bodmin Moor and the Tamar valley, Whitsand Bay and Plymouth Sound, and if the weather permits, Exmoor. Additionally, the weather can play a critical part in the overall experience. On a clear autumn day, you feel at one with nature. On a day where you are standing high above the cloud line, it becomes spiritual.

Read More: Exmoor National Park In Winter

Brent Tor - Dartmoor, England

The gorgeous Brentor Church – Photo by Tony Atkin

The outcrop of the tor is a spectacular, weathered volcanic plug dating back to Carboniferous times, which sets it apart from other Devon tors. Earthworks dating from the Iron Age, are scattered around its base, along with the remains of a hill fort. It is believed that the church was once used as an early warning system for approaching invaders at sea.

Brent Tor church is not only surrounded by incredible scenery but, historically, is bountiful in myth and legend. Originally planned to be built at the base of the tor, the story goes that the devil would move it nightly to the top. Despite this continual interruption, the locals carried on with its construction. Some say out of sheer defiance.

Possibly the most famous story about the church on the tor’s beginnings is centred around an almost shipwrecked merchant, who promised the church would be built after being spared from a watery grave. Fortunately for historians and tourists alike, his wish was granted. And the climb to Brent tor’s summit is so worth it.

Exploring The Village Of Brentor In Dartmoor

After exploring Brent Tor, the small village of Brentor on Dartmoor’s northwest edge is an ideal spot to explore the surrounding country. Close to historic Lydford – famous for its gorge – and Mary Tavy, it lies near an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Even though the southwest of England has a marine climate, Brentor and Dartmoor can have its share of snow-filled days as well. Due to the higher elevation, you can catch views of Brent Tor church with snow for an average of 20 days each winter. In fact, on rare occasions, Dartmoor has experience blizzard conditions, leaving more than 55 cm (22 in) of snow on the ground 1. The aftermath of these conditions can genuinely be a snowshoer’s playground. Thus, when visiting Brent Tor, prepare for cooler temperatures (average 8C or 46F), wind, and rain/snow.

Attractions Near Brentor

In addition to Brent Tor, there are numerous ways to explore the outdoors and historical areas near the village of Brentor in Dartmoor.

Crofters Barn

While in the Brentor area, add Crofters Barn on your list to visit. This converted stone-built barn has a secluded garden and paddock. Adjacent to open moorland, it is an ideal location for wildlife enthusiasts and those keen on the great outdoors. Pets – on leash – are welcome, and the property has off-road parking facilities.

Lydford Gorge

A little over 2 miles (3.2 km) from Brentor lies the famed Lydford Gorge. Known to be the deepest in the southwest of England, the gorge is perfect for walkers and ramblers alike. Wildlife is plentiful no matter the season. Plus, for those interested in local myths and legends, the impressive White Lady waterfall – with its 30-metre drop – and the Devil’s Cauldron are well worth exploring.

The surrounding landscape of Lydford Gorge is steep and rugged. Therefore, the walks are better suited to those more-able. Nonetheless, one of Devon’s long-distance walking routes, the West Devon Way, is nearby. Though a long walk of around 5 miles (8 km), there are no stiles and only one climb near the end. Linking Plymouth with Oakhampton, there are amenities on the route. An information pack is available from tourist information centres.

Read More: Drake’s Trail: A Winter Walk In The Southwest of England

Whitelady Waterfall- Lydford Gorge- Dartmoor, England

The waterfall at Lydford Gorge – Photo by Rob Wilcox

Coombe Trenchard House & Garden

Just over 3 miles (4.8 km) from Brent Tor lies Coombe Trenchard House and Garden. This beautiful brick and timber-framed Edwardian house was built in 1906, and it sits in an equally beautiful 8-acre garden.

For those keen on discovering what life was like in Edwardian times, the house is a must-see. The gardens feature terraces and woodland, and though they became overgrown, they have since been restored to their Edwardian splendour. The gardens are open regularly for visitors, and the house opens for pre-booked groups.

Mary Tavy

The village of Mary Tavy lies just 2.4 miles (3.9 km) from Brentor. Small and quaint, with a population of around 600, it is another ideal base from which you can explore the surroundings. The village is dated from the 1800s and was once part of the region’s mining community. Its beautiful parish church – St. Mary’s – dates from the 13th century.

Only 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the village of Mary Tavy, you’ll find Wheal Betsy, the remains of a lead and copper mine engine house. Among many claims to fame is its chimney, which appears to defy gravity. The exact date when the mine opened is uncertain, though many believe it dates from the early 1700s. Despite this, the building – now owned and restored by the National Trust – is testament to withstanding the harshest of Dartmoor’s elements.

Peter Tavy

A short distance away from Mary Tavy lies Peter Tavy. This 3-mile (4.8 km) village is famed for its medieval church, inn, and scenic walks along the river. It’s an ideal spot to kick back and switch off.

Accommodation Near Brentor In Dartmoor

While exploring the area, there is a range of accommodation available.

Brentor

Accommodation is welcoming and quiet in Brentor. The Smithy, formerly a wheelwright’s workshop, is on a peaceful country lane. This delightful detached cottage will sleep 2-3 people, accommodates pets, and is open year-round. There are plenty of scenic walks close by as well. Additionally, for more energetic guests, cycle route 27 isn’t far off.

Mary Tavy 

For a welcome typical of the southwest, head to the Mary Tavy Inn. If the idea of spending time in a traditional free house serving great food and real ale appeals, give it a try. With a good-sized car park, beer garden, and entertainment, the inn offers bed and breakfast accommodation.

Peter Tavy

In Peter Tavy, accommodation will suit most tastes with B&Bs, guesthouses, and self-catering options available. The scenic wilds of Dartmoor are right on the doorstep, along with award-winning Hartford Bridge Holiday Park.

If you are looking for a fantastic choice of holiday accommodation, Hartford Bridge is the place to visit. Whether it’s caravans, motor homes, camping, or lodges, the spacious site caters to all. A delightful variation on their camping theme is the Shepherd’s Hut, where a cozy, rustic experience on wheels awaits. A unique way to spend your holiday, the hut sleeps 1-2 people and is pet-free.

However, for other rentals, Hartford Bridge offers a large dog exercise area. Furthermore, with a recreation green and the river Tavy on its perimeter, Hartford Bridge is in a perfect position to experience life in Devon’s great outdoors.

Brentor Church, Dartmoor, England

Another view of Brent Tor overlooking the village of Brentor – Image by davidlharris from Pixabay

Visit Brent Tor In Dartmoor

Brent Tor, outside of the community of Brentor in Dartmoor, is not to be missed! Experience the history and mystery surrounded in the church and the surrounding area at any time of the year. Then, explore the beautiful surrounding area for a taste of southwest England that will leave you wanting more!

Have you ever been to Brent Tor church or have visited the area? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!

Read More: Dartmoor Hikes & Attractions In The Southwest of England


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