Snowshoe Magazine The snowshoeing experience for snowshoers around the world: snowshoe racing, snowshoes, gear reviews, events, recreation, first-timers. Sat, 23 Mar 2019 01:27:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 28162661 Choose Your Own Adventure In The Canadian Rockies This Spring Tue, 19 Mar 2019 02:06:06 +0000 Spend a weekend in a remote off-the-grid cabin with a glacier out your back door. Alternatively, check in to a deluxe cabin with hot springs located close enough that you can make a run for it in your bathrobe. These … Continue reading

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Spend a weekend in a remote off-the-grid cabin with a glacier out your back door. Alternatively, check in to a deluxe cabin with hot springs located close enough that you can make a run for it in your bathrobe. These are just two of the “choose your own adventures” that await you in the Canadian Rockies this spring.

Option 1: Backcountry Wilderness Getaway in Banff National Park

Backcountry Wilderness Getaway in Banff National Park

I jokingly refer to the HI Hilda Creek Wilderness Hostel as a “shack”, but my girlfriend yells at me every time, insisting that it is a “magical palace.” While “palace” is a bit of a stretch for a wilderness cabin, Hilda Creek is certainly magical. You’d be hard pressed to find better views on a bluebird day.

The HI Hilda Creek Hostel is located off the remote Icefields Parkway, connecting Lake Louise and Jasper National Park. The hostel is operated by Hostelling International Canada. The HI Hilda Creek Wilderness Hostel sleeps 6 people and access is via a short 5-minute hike down off the highway. (And you’ll definitely want the snowshoes for that walk.)

The Icefields Parkway that you’ll drive to access the HI Hilda Creek Wilderness Hostel

Visitors should be prepared for a winter camping type experience at this remote property. You will be without electricity, indoor plumbing, or Wi-Fi (you won’t even find a cell signal here.) Drinking water comes from melted snow, and bathrooms are located in an outhouse building. And don’t expect a hostel manager on site here. This is complete DIY accommodations, with access to the property via a keycode given before each stay.

The hostel has two cabins on the property, one for sleeping and one for eating/common room space. Fortunately both have propane heaters in them along with solar powered lights. A propane stove, dishes, and cooking supplies are available in the kitchen. Bring your sleeping bags, food, and personal belongings, and you’re good to go.

Hiking up the creek behind the HI Hilda Creek Wilderness Hostel

From the hostel we like to hike up the creek to go sledding off glacier moraines. We usually take a short drive up to the Columbia Icefields Centre, where you can walk to the toe of the Athabasca Glacier. Tangle Creek Falls and Panther Falls are great objectives from the hut because each is a short 10-15-minute drive away.

Panther Falls, a short drive away from the HI Hilda Creek Hostel

Note you will be traveling in backcountry terrain and it is recommended you have avalanche skills training. We try to stay out of avalanche terrain as a family, but without the training you won’t know where that is (or isn’t.) The Icefields Parkway requires winter tires for all travel during the winter season.

For further information or to make a booking at the HI Hilda Creek Wilderness Hostel please visit the Hostelling International Canada website. The Lake Louise Visitor Centre recommends that you check in before starting your trip. There you can find out about any travel advisories, road closures for the Icefields Parkway, and to check the current avalanche forecast. (Some of the hikes we enjoy would not be recommended in times of high risk.)

For additional info on backcountry overnights, read: Easy Ways To Stay Overnight In The Backcountry Year Round As A Family

Visiting the Columbia Icefields Centre from the HI Hilda Creek Hostel

Option 2: Hot Springs Getaway in British Columbia’s East Kootenay Rockies

If “winter in the backcountry” doesn’t scream “comfort” to you, this next adventure sure will. Spend a couple of nights in the East Kootenay Rockies at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort in one of their new deluxe cabins. The cabins are a short walk away from the hot pools along with hiking trails leading down to the source of the hot water in the creek below.

Deluxe Cabins at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

When we stayed here, we opened our front door to find a herd of deer grazing only a few feet away. We also loved the proximity to the main lodge, where we enjoyed afternoon appetizers and pizza in the Bear’s Paw Bar and Grill, and a decadent Sunday brunch in the Antlers Restaurant.

Each cabin sleeps 4 people in two bedrooms. One bedroom has bunk beds for the kids and the other bedroom has a queen bed for the parents. The cabin contains a well equipped kitchen with microwave, full sized refrigerator, and dishwasher. No camping here!

You’ll also find other amenities including a barbecue, Keurig coffee maker and a TV with Netflix. The kids can be entertained while you enjoy the views from your balcony with a glass of wine. Suffice it to say, you’ll feel very comfortable here and you might want to check in for a week.

Comfort “Camping” at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

During our time at Fairmont Hot Springs, we enjoyed multiple dips in the hot pools and spent a day at the family ski area located up the road from the resort. Other nearby activities include ice skating on the Lake Windermere Whiteway, which is the longest skating path in the world. Or you can visit the quaint town of Invermere on the Lake to browse the art galleries and shops along the main street.

For more information on Fairmont Hot Springs Resort or to make a reservation, please visit their website.

Fairmont Hot Springs pools (warm swimming pool on the left and hot soaking pool on the right)

Option 3: Glamping Getaway in Kananaskis Country, Alberta

I’ve always said that you could not pay me enough money to sleep in a tent when there’s snow on the ground. However, I make an exception when it comes to Mount Engadine Lodge in Kananaskis. The lodge has recently built 5 canvas glamping tents for guests to enjoy. In addition, they have lodge rooms, pet-friendly suites, and cabins available for overnight stays.

Glamping tent at Mount Engadine Lodge

While you will be sleeping in a tent, this is where the similarities with camping end, and you can leave your sleeping bags at home. Each elevated tent comes furnished with a large king-sized bed, which can be split into twins if you’re traveling with a friend. There’s also a gas fireplace and a pull-out, which is great if you’re bringing the kids. Yes, these tents have indoor plumbing too with an ensuite bathroom!

Best of all, each stay at Mount Engadine Lodge includes all of your meals. You’ll receive afternoon charcuterie, dessert, and tea/coffee when you arrive, as well as a gourmet evening three course meal, breakfast the following morning, and a packed lunch to go for your adventures that next day.

Camping was never so comfortable.

I recently spent a night here with a girlfriend and we enjoyed the luxury of being able to drive into the wilderness lodge after spending the day skiing nearby trails. We also loved that we could snowshoe right out the main door of the lodge and across the road to the Rummel Lake Trail. At this trail we enjoyed views over the entire Spray Valley on a hike to a scenic backcountry lake.

Bring your partner for a romantic weekend away, gather your friends for a fun girls’ getaway, or bring the kids for a family escape. There are no shortage of trails surrounding the lodge. You’ll find an adventure suitable for every member of your group.

For more information or to make a reservation, visit the Mount Engadine Lodge website and read: Mount Engadine Lodge: Alberta’s Front Country Lodge With Backcountry Charm

Views from the Rummel Lake Trail across from Mount Engadine Lodge

Option 4: Mountain Town Getaway and Tiny Home Stay in Fernie, BC

Fernie is one of our favourite mountain towns for a multi-sport getaway any time of the year. Overnight stays have just gotten a whole lot more interesting as well with 6 new tiny homes built near the river on the Snow Valley Lodging Property.

Tiny homes in Fernie, BC

The tiny homes are simple trailers that have been converted into a living space with loft. While they don’t look like much on the outside, they are well decorated, modern, and bright on the inside. Never for a second did I feel like I was “camping” despite spending a weekend in a trailer.

Each tiny home comes furnished with a pull-out sofa, a small fold up table and two stools for daytime use when not requiring the sofa bed. There is also a queen-sized bed upstairs in the loft. Aside from these basic furnishings, each house has a full bathroom with shower. There is a small kitchen with oven and mini fridge, but no microwave or dishwasher I’m afraid. In addition, for all your baking needs, you’ll have basic cooking supplies/dishes, including a toaster and coffee maker.

Tastefully decorated tiny homes in Fernie – a far cry from winter camping!

As a family of 3, it was a little tight for us on our recent stay. We laughed each evening as we’d convert the tiny home into sleeping mode by folding up the table and pulling out the sofa bed, and then convert it back into daytime mode the next morning. It really was no different than what you’d get with many camping trailers (shared table/bed space). At least we had indoor plumbing and electricity! So for winter camping we certainly didn’t suffer.

The Snow Valley Lodging Property is located a short walk from the river and the town pathway system. Borrow a free fat bike from the lodge (included with all stays) and ride over to the river for an enjoyable tour of the town. Alternately, take a walk along the river or enjoy cross-country skiing on the multi-use trail system. Whatever your mood, you’ll find an activity right outside your door.

Island Lake Lodge Snow Cat Tour – Ride the snow cat to the lodge for a gourmet lunch and afternoon of snowshoeing around the lake

Other recommended activities in the area include taking a snow cat tour up to Island Lake Lodge for lunch, where you can rent snowshoes for a tour around the lake. Another options include hiking around the Montane Trail network a short distance outside town, or visiting Fernie Alpine Resort for a day of downhill skiing. There’s also a great Nordic Centre if you’d like to try cross-country skiing for an afternoon.

Please visit the Snow Valley Lodging Company’s website for more information on their tiny homes or to make a reservation.

There are no shortage of great places to stay across the Canadian Rockies. Each property featured in this story is open year-round if you don’t make it out this spring. So you can still access the large variety of trails nearby for hiking or biking.

Cozy little kitchen in our tiny home in Fernie at the Snow Valley Lodging Company

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The Majesty of Jackson Hole, Wyoming Wed, 13 Mar 2019 16:29:36 +0000 Since ancient times when early man was on snowshoes, the crystal clarity in the air, crunch of snow underfoot and the profound silence of the deep forest gives way to tranquility of the soul. Whether you are a beginner or … Continue reading

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Photo courtesy of The Hole Hiking Experience, from Cathy Shill

Since ancient times when early man was on snowshoes, the crystal clarity in the air, crunch of snow underfoot and the profound silence of the deep forest gives way to tranquility of the soul. Whether you are a beginner or a veteran, the allure is always there and the grandeur of the Grand Tetons beckon.

In the Jackson Hole area of Wyoming, you can venture out on your own on many routes or take any number of tours. This overview will suggest locations and activities, and for details on specifics be sure to check online. Helpful links are included.


Snowshoeing the trails at Grand Targhee

This resort in Alta maintains a dedicated system of Nordic trails and single-track snowshoe trails through Ricks Basin and Quakie Ridge. A map of the snowshoe trails is available for reference. Snowshoe rentals are available for $20 at the Activity Center or Ski School and can be picked up at the Nature Center, which is next to the ski school cabin. A Winter Trails Pass can also be purchased for $15. Unfortunately, no pups are allowed on the winter trails.

If you’re interested in a guided experience, two-hour guided tours are given seven days a week, going from the Nature Center. Guided tours have a $35 fee, which includes the Trail Pass. Visit the Grand Targhee Resort website for more info. Sign up at the Activity Center or call 800.Targhee (827.4433) to reserve space on the guided tour.

For an insider’s perspective, continue reading: Snowshoeing and Birding at Grand Targhee, Wyoming


Turpin Meadow Ranch

Nestled in a scenic valley off highway 26/287 are the rustic lodge and cabins of Turpin Meadow Ranch. The location is about ten miles down Buffalo Valley Road. Located 45 miles north of Jackson, the Turpin Meadow Ranch Touring Center grooms over 15 km of trail. These trails include terrain suitable for beginner thru advanced cross-country skiers, as well as snowshoers. Trail passes are available for $15.

While along the trail, nearly 5 million acres of protected lands will surround you. The ranch was one of the original 36 dude ranches that became popular back in the 20’s. This is a true back-country experience that will suck stress from your psyche. If you would like a guided snowshoe tour, Turpin Meadow offers a 2.5 guided tour from the ranch for $49/adult or $29/youth, which include snowshoe rentals. Visit the Turpin Meadow Ranch website or call 800.743.2496 for information and reservations at the ranch.

For an insider’s perspective, continue reading: Turpin Meadow Ranch: Snowshoeing in Grand Teton’s Wild Country


You will find an amazing abundance of wildlife in the pristine silence of this magnificent setting. Wildlife tracks are everywhere, including wolf, and the distinctive hop pattern of weasels. When weasels hop, their back feet go into the same places their front paws went, making a recognizable track. And if you want to see moose in the park in winter, the best places are on the south and east-facing slopes where they feed on bushes. A variety of snowshoe opportunities are available in Grand Teton. The National Park Service offers a map for the trails described below.

Moose-Wilson Road

Photo courtesy of The Hole Hiking Experience, from Cathy Shill

Moose-Wilson Road provides access to several trailheads in the summer. Part of Moose-Wilson Road is closed in the winter, however, and becomes a great snowshoeing trail. The trail is an easy 5.8 miles round trip with 500 ft elevation gain. To access the Moose-Wilson Road snowshoe trail, you can drive 3 miles south from Moose to Death Canyon Road and park on your right. Or you can drive north from from Teton Village to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, enter the park, go one mile and park at Granite Canyon Trailhead.

If you park near Death Canyon Road, you can access Phelps Lake Overlook, which typically starts from Death Canyon Trailhead. In the winter, you can still snowshoe up Death Canyon Road, past the trailhead, to the overlook. This is a moderate 5.2-mile round-trip, with total altitude gain of 730 feet. As an alternative to the Overlook, you can snowshoe south from the parking area at Death Canyon Road to view Phelps Lake from the south. This route is also a moderate route of 4 miles and 300 feet of elevation gain.

If you park near Granite Canyon Trailhead, you can snowshoe north on Moose-Wilson Road to access a trail that takes you to the same southern view of Phelps Lake.

Teton Park Road

Photo courtesy of The Hole Hiking Experience, from Cathy Shill

Teton Park Road is open for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing during winter since no vehicles are allowed from Taggart Lake Trailhead (south access) to the Signal Mountain Lodge (north access). The road is machine groomed for 14 miles for both classic and skate skiing, with one lane for walking and snowshoeing. You can bring your pup up the trail too.

From the South Trailhead at Teton Park Road (Taggart Lake), parking is 3 miles northwest of Moose on the Teton Park Road. The easy Jenny Lake Trail runs 8 miles round-trip climbing 200 feet, returning via the Teton Park road Trail. The Taggart Lake out-and-back trail is a moderate to difficult 3-mile round-trip gaining 400 feet, while the Taggart Lake-Beaver Creek Loop runs 4 miles, gaining 500 feet. Both trails involve steep hills.

The North Trailhead (Signal Mountain) is 3 miles south of Jackson Lake Junction on Teton Park Road and parking is at Signal Mountain Lodge. That summit road is a 12-mile moderate to difficult route, gaining 900 feet.

Colter Bay

Colter Bay Trailhead is southeast of the Colter Bay Visitor Center, which is 30 miles north of Moose. Park here. From the Colter Bay trailhead, you can access Swan Lake-Heron Pond Loop. This loop is an easy 3-mile round- trip trail that climbs 300 feet.


In addition to the tours offered at Grand Targhee Resort and Turpin Meadow Ranch, several tour outfitters operate snowshoe and winter tours. These custom opportunities can include meals, snowshoeing and sleigh rides, dinner in a heated tepee, even dogsledding. Check out the two companies below for a brief sampling.

Photo courtesy of The Hole Hiking Experience, from Cathy Shill

Hole Hiking Experience

The Hole Hiking Experience offers many options featuring the best in wildlife viewing. These are driving tours in Grand Teton National Park with a naturalist guide. People of all abilities will enjoy the 4-hour Snowshoe Sampler & Wildlife Tour and see the habitats of eagles, bighorn sheep, elk, foxes, coyote, moose and more.

Fancy a sleigh ride? Try the Snowshoe & Elk Refuge Sleigh Ride, 7 hours, including lunch and equipment rental. The Snowshoe & Dog Sled Tour is an all-day activity with lunch, equipment, water, snacks and fanny packs. For more info, visit, visit on Facebook, or call 307.690.4453.

Jackson Hole Vintage Adventures

Jackson Hole Vintage Adventures offers a range of snowshoe outings into the cottonwood forest on vintage snowshoes, the original wooden models. Views of the Snake River and the Tetons towering overhead are unforgettable. Appetizers around a roaring fire? How about an adventure including a Tepee lunch or dinner? On the Vintage wildlife tour you’ll follow the tracks of the animals and sometimes see the critters in their natural habitat. Call 307.732.2628, visit on Facebook, or email at

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ERIC HARTMARK: Wins 12th Cindy Brochman Memorial Snowshoe Magazine Person of Year Award Tue, 12 Mar 2019 03:12:14 +0000 “It is a sort of poetic justice that Eric’s first appearance in a USSSA National Championship occurred at Cable, Wisconsin in 2011,” said United States Snowshoe Association Sports Director Mark Elmore, “and now he wins the Cindy Brochman Memorial Snowshoe … Continue reading

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Eric accepting his Snowshoe Mag award

“It is a sort of poetic justice that Eric’s first appearance in a USSSA National Championship occurred at Cable, Wisconsin in 2011,” said United States Snowshoe Association Sports Director Mark Elmore, “and now he wins the Cindy Brochman Memorial Snowshoe Magazine Person of the Year at these 2019 Cable championships.”

The popular Hartmark also won that 2011 National Championship by just eight seconds over Iowa’s Scott Gall. Gall ultimately returned the favor at the Wisconsin Nationals in Eau Claire in  2015. He beat both Zachary Rivers of New York, along with Eric Hartmark to take his first national crown.

Exceptional Dedication To The Sport of Snowshoeing

Racing the 2015 Eau Claire Half Marathon National Snowshoe Championships

Eric Hartmark’s win at the 2011 Championships was only the first of six total National Snowshoe Championship titles. Hartmark has also won the Championship title at the 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 Championship events.

Hartmark won the 2018 USSSA National championships, a 10km distance, in 1:00:31. An hour? How did that happen? Just before the start of the race, the deepest snowstorm ever for a USSSA weekend occurred. However, Eric seems nonplussed about the various challenges thrown his way. Perhaps “Just deal with it” is a working and racing motto for him.

His most recent title was at the 2019 USSSA National Championships this weekend in Cable, Wisconsin. Eric won the 10km, with a time of 45:21:03, on a roller coaster of a course, filled with steep hills, descents, and curves. This 6th win now ties the all-time USSSA National Championship record, held by Josiah Middaugh of Vail. CO.

Another USSSA National Championship Win

These championships are only a fraction of the races Eric runs throughout the season, and his dedication to snowshoeing and racing does not go unnoticed. USSSA Director Mark Elmore explained, “No one has shown more dedication to our sport over the past ten years. Eric has earned five [now six] USSSA National Snowshoe Championship titles, all in the 10km distance. He also placed second twice for the silver medal while finishing with the bronze just once. So, in eight [now nine] consecutive appearances at the national championships, he’s never finished off the podium.”

Eric Hartmark Winning the 2017 Bend, Oregon, USSSA National Championships

Earlier this season, once again Hartmark led a deep field at the 2019 Phillips Flurry Snowshoe Races in Phillips, Wisconsin, with a course record of 40:52. It’s true: Wisconsin reigns as the hotbed of snowshoe racing in the Midwest.

Hartmark joins two-time champion Greg Hexum in bringing these championships to their hometown of Duluth, Minnesota.

Hartmark also covers the snowshoe circuit such as the annual Boulder Lake Snowshoe Stomp north of Duluth, which attracts some of the best in the Midwest.

Compete Against Top Athletes Around the Globe To Challenge The Limit

The 2019 National Snowshoe Championship team

Along with races in the United States, Hartmark has traveled the globe to compete in elite snowshoe races. Elmore expands on Hartmark’s global snowshoeing noting, “At the World Championship level, he has represented the US and our sport in four different World Championship events. Eric has traveled extensively on his own funds to challenge himself against the best snowshoe athletes in the world today. He competed in Quebec Canada in 2012 and took home the silver medal for a runner-up finish.

In 2013 he competed in the La Ciaspolada event in Italy and had a particularly rough day.” Well, yes, he was run over at the start with a resulting face plant, then stepped on by a snowshoer running directly over his back. But, a few bad snowballs don’t stop a champion. “He finished nonetheless, which is the mark of a true champion.  In 2014 he traveled to northern Sweden and finished seventh overall. 2015 found him in Quebec City, Canada, where he took eighth overall in a very deep field. So, in four races, he made the podium three times.”

Eric Hartmark about to cross the finish line at the 2019 Cable Championships using his Northern Lite snowshoes

In 2016 Northern Lites Snowshoes, Richmond, Wisconsin, selected Hartmark as one of their four sponsored athletes. Jim York, co-owner of the company, shared this with me. “He came to us with an impressive background as one of the premier snowshoe racers on the national stage. At the Perkinstown Tramp Snowshoe Race in January 2016, we met Eric for the first time and discussed having him run on Northern Lites Snowshoes.  One of the best things about being a small part of the sport of snowshoeing is all the great people you get to meet.”

Friend and coach, Kelly Mortenson, had this to say: “Eric is a fantastic choice as the 2019 Cindy Brochman Snowshoe Magazine Person of the Year.  Since winning his first year snowshoeing eight years ago when Cable last hosted the U.S. National Snowshoe Championship, Eric has claimed four [now five] more championship races, becoming the most successful snowshoe racer in the last ten years.  It’s only fitting Eric receives this award at the same location as his first National Championship.  Eric has been a great ambassador of the sport and of Northern Lites Snowshoe Company.”

Kindness Shown Towards Individuals On and Off the Trail

Eric Hartmark leads the 2018 Men’s USSSA National Snowshoe Team

So what makes Eric Hartmark stand out in a crowd of top athletes? York continues, “Even though he is one of the premier athletes in the sport of snowshoeing, he is a humble and unfailingly gracious man of impeccable character.  While he is a fierce competitor, he never talks poorly about any other athlete.  He always seems to find time to give a word of encouragement or advice, and he’s always got a smile on his face.”

A confirmed Metallica fan with a fondness for Clint Eastwood’s “A Fistful of Dollars,” Hartmark brings his pleasant ways and good spirits to these events as all await his arrival on the start line. He is notable for timing that to just moments before the launch. At the Minneapolis Loppet snowshoe race this year—he naturally won—the announcer barely had time to acknowledge his presence and, boom, the cannon signals the race’s start.

Off the Snow

Winning the Fond Du Lac 5km Halloween Race

His racing activities outside of snow include the United States of America Track and Field (USATF) Minnesota State Championships in multiple distances along with corresponding course records. He has important success in Half- and Marathon distances, having four marathon wins and consistently clocked under 2:27.

Hartmark also won the 2011 Voyageur Trail Marathon (now the Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon) that presents its particular form of misery. He raced the prestigious USA Olympic Marathon Trials as well.

Coach Hartmark

He holds the Fond du Lack Tribal and Community College Pumpkin Run course record (5km 15:13) with seven wins. He set the course record in the rough and tough 2012 Superior 25km with a 1:06.

Hartmark takes his free time as a coach and attended the University of Minnesota.

He celebrates a birthday, now in his young 40’s,  just after the 2019 nationals on March 13.

Elmore says, “Eric is an excellent ambassador for our sport. I can’t think of anyone more deserving. It is awesome to recognize him like this.”

Watch this video of the origins of this award.

Here the list of winners to date of this award:


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Plenty of Snowshoeing Options in Wisconsin’s Northwoods Region Fri, 08 Mar 2019 04:57:44 +0000 Wisconsin is home to more than 2,700 miles of recreational trails, many of which are available for snowshoeing. On a recent visit to the Badger State’s Northwoods region, I explored a number of these designated trails, along with breaking a … Continue reading

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Wisconsin is home to more than 2,700 miles of recreational trails, many of which are available for snowshoeing. On a recent visit to the Badger State’s Northwoods region, I explored a number of these designated trails, along with breaking a few of my own.

Located a three-and-a-half-hour drive northeast of Minneapolis, the picturesque Northwoods reveals its spectacular offerings any time of year. Winter is especially appealing in the small towns of Hayward and Cable. These towns are inseparably linked by the American Birkebeiner, the country’s largest cross-country ski race held every February. In 2018, skiers from 49 states and 36 countries participated in the Birkie.

Though the driving distance is just 15 miles between the two towns, more than 10,000 skiers begin the Birkebeiner in Cable, and end the race 55 kilometers (34 miles) later in Hayward. Steeped in Nordic history, the Northwoods area’s charm and appeal includes a variety of specialty shops, equipment rentals, hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, and numerous outdoor activities.

Snowshoe Near Cable & Hayward

Sunset over Lake Chippewa Flowage

Cable offers snowshoeing near town thanks to the North End Ski Club, which maintains National Forest cross-country and snowshoe trails. Three easy to moderate snowshoe trails are available, including the 1.4 km Ridge Trail, 2.4 km Bear Paw Trail, and 2.8 km Penny Lane Trail.

In addition to snowshoeing, the Ridge Trail offers a self-guided Mammal Tour. This tour features 25 metal cut-outs of common Northwoods’ mammals along the route. The educational Mammal Tour is a joint project of the North End Ski Club and the Cable Natural History Museum, which also rents snowshoes. It’s a great way to learn about the area’s wildlife while snowshoeing.

New Moon Bike and Ski in Hayward rents snowshoes and cross-country skis.

According to Cable Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jeffery Raether, “The Cable area boasts the largest community-wide multi-use trail system in the United States.” That expansive trail system includes 125 miles of hiking/snowshoe trails, 94 miles of cross-country ski trails, and 1,200 miles of snowmobile trails.

This year March 8-10, Lakewoods Resort in Cable will host the 19th annual United States Snowshoe Association National Snowshoe Championships. This is the second time Lakewoods Resort has hosted the championship.

If you need a break from snowshoeing, an adrenaline-producing activity like snowmobiling is available by stopping at Hayward Power Sports, which rents snowmobiles and offers guided tours as well. You can spend hours or days on these exhilarating machines! If you get hungry, many local restaurants are a part of the snowmobiling trails. Lakewoods Resort also offers snowmobiling options and several hundred miles of trails to explore.

In Hayward, snowshoers can enjoy a variety of trails right near town, thanks to the Hayward Area Memorial Hospital. The Hayward Area Ski Trails Association maintains dedicated snowshoeing and walking trails on hospital property. Several miles of trails are available, with the snowshoe trailhead located off Hospital Road.

Other Outdoor Activities

Ice fishing, ice skating, elk viewing, and fat biking are also popular winter activities throughout the Northwoods. Howl Adventure Center is a comprehensive one-stop recreation facility for snowshoeing and other outdoor activities. If you’ve never tried it, fat bike riding on snow trails is a hoot, and a good workout. Fat bikes have extra-wide rims with low-pressure tires making it possible to cruise on soft terrain like snow. Howl Adventure Center also offers snowshoe and cross-country ski rentals, along with dog sled trips.

Fat biking is popular in the Northwoods.

During my visit to the Northwoods, I enjoyed a cozy cabin (Gall Condo Rentals) on the frozen shores of Lake Owen, just outside of Cable. This picturesque lake features 1,300 surface acres, all of which were soundly covered in two to three feet of ice and topped with a foot of snow. On the last day of my week-long visit, and just before the sun set, I looked out over the lake and its prevailing silence, and strapped on the snowshoes one more time.

From my cabin, I trekked several hundred yards out towards the middle of the lake to witness the setting sun. I was the only one on the entire lake for as far as the eye could see. The incredible silence was almost spiritual. As the sun dipped below the horizon, I knew this was certainly one of the highlights of the trip. Besides my heartbeat, the only sound I heard was the eventual crunching of my snowshoes as I headed back to the cabin. This final snowshoe impression on Lake Owen was a memorable way to end the trip.

Après Snowshoeing: Food, Drink & Stay

• After a hearty morning of snowshoeing, relax at the Brickhouse Café for a meal and a warm up drink. They offer a variety of hot coffee drinks, along with a mouthwatering lunch items. The Lake Owen Panini was recently featured on the popular TV series “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.” The sandwich includes turkey, provolone, homemade walnut pesto cheese spread, tomato, and red onion on a ciabatta roll. I felt obligated to try this sandwich since I was staying at Lake Owen. I was not disappointed!

• In Wisconsin, fish fries are a big deal, especially on Fridays. To experience an authentic fish fry, have dinner at The Landing on the Chippewa Flowage in Hayward. The walleye is fabulous.

Tamarack Farms Winery uses locally-grown cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, and apples to produce their wines. They also offer craft beers, hot apple cider wines, and wood-fired pizza.

• The Birches Roadhouse Bar & Restaurant is a contemporary Italian steakhouse with a cozy atmosphere. The meals are to die for, which makes this a very popular destination.

A day on the trail deserves a stop at Angry Minnow Brewery.

• If you’ve ever eaten at a Famous Dave’s BBQ restaurant, you’ll love his Hayward, Wisc. version called Old Southern. Like Famous Dave’s, there are lots of tasty BBQ options and sides, and they are all tasty!

• The Sawmill Saloon in Seeley features home-made pizza in a variety of combinations. They also offer Lumberjack salads and rib-eye steaks. It’s located near snowshoe and cross-country ski trails halfway between Hayward and Cable on Hwy. 63.

• If you’re looking for a place to stay with convenient snowshoe trails, consider the seven-room Cable Nature Lodge with its adjoining Rookery Pub Fine Dining. According to owner Bill Brakken, “You can get a pair of snowshoes at the front desk and explore the trails winding across our 22 acres, which also connect with the adjoining national forest.” Guests are greeted by Arwen, a friendly British black lab who is named for the elf princess in “Lord of the Rings.” She even barks with a British accent!

For more information about the Northwoods and the Badger State, check out Travel Wisconsin.

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Run Rabbit, Run to Snowshoeing: Transition from Running To Snowshoe Racing Wed, 06 Mar 2019 05:49:53 +0000 A snow rabbit warily sits in the distance as I snowshoe closer to sneak a better view. The rabbit runs away before I get there, and in the meantime, I appreciate nature and all its surroundings. 

What many runners don’t … Continue reading

The post Run Rabbit, Run to Snowshoeing: Transition from Running To Snowshoe Racing appeared first on Snowshoe Magazine.

A snow rabbit warily sits in the distance as I snowshoe closer to sneak a better view. The rabbit runs away before I get there, and in the meantime, I appreciate nature and all its surroundings. 

The Snowshoe Hare wears permanent snowshoes on its hind legs

What many runners don’t know: the vast majority of snowshoe enthusiasts come to the sport after first pursuing running. Questions arise all the time like, “I didn’t know you could use snowshoes when snow is skimpy” or even, “You mean you run on those things?”

To help answer these questions, we reached out to a wide variety of snowshoers for ideas to help runners who have yet to don a pair of snowshoes, drink the Kool-Aid, and welcome the addiction of beautiful forests and trails traveled quietly. Their answers provided a wealth of insights that you can apply now.


Snowshoeing allows for a cool cross-training option in the winter to those who run, as there are several similarities.

Just ask ultra runner and snowboarder Wolfgang Sterr, an executive chef with Whistler Blackcomb in Canada. Sterr, an established runner says it was an easy transition from running to snowshoeing. “I do a lot of snow running here while training.” He suggests adopting a running style, starting slow, and investing in a good pair of snowshoes.

Similarly, Weimar Gomez, restaurant owner and executive chef in Canada says, “I’ve been running already for more than ten years; marathons, short distances, and a few crazy trails in Asia with running on the beach and rivers. With the correct equipment, it is not difficult to move to a snowshoe since the basic movements of the lower body remain the same. I haven’t competed in snowshoes, but I used this discipline to reinforce my body during the winter period and obviously to bring something different to my daily sports activities, mentally is always good and motivating.”

Many athletes also enjoy the beauty of the trails. Take Andrew Woodard’s approach, a Braveheart Snowshoe Racing Series veteran. “The reason that I snowshoe in the winter is it gets you off the icy roads shared with slipping-sliding cars and onto trails with great winter scenery and a secure footing with the snowshoe crampons that grip the ice and snow.  You can run down an icy slope at full speed and be confident in your footing.”

Sara Bucovaz, both an avid runner, hiker and snowshoer in Canada, says “If you compare it to running, it is the same. You kind of lift up your foot as you run in snowshoes. I snowshoe mainly to be outdoors but also because it is great exercise, and I can push myself a lot going uphill to the top of the mountain just like I can push myself by running hard on a tempo run.”

Eric Hartmark, wearing his sponsor’s Northern Lite snowshoes, with a background of 5km to marathon road racing, captures the gold at the 2017 Bend, Oregon, DION Snowshoe USSSA National Championships

Running star and World Snowshoe Federation (WSSF) champion Joseph Gray agrees. “For me, there is a natural transition to snowshoe as the snow season comes during the winter and stays put for a few months where I live. Being that it relates to cross-country, snowshoeing allows me to get in some racing in a style very similar to one of my favorite genres of distance.”

Gray continues, “Racing both activities helps my professional life. I believe happiness is the key to longevity. Snowshoeing in combination with all the other running events I take part in gives me balance throughout the year and also serve as unique challenges each season.”

Joseph lives a professional running and snowshoeing life. Besides his WSSF titles, he also holds the USATF National Half-Marathon Trail gold medals. With those and many more, Joseph attracts sponsors such as Hoka ONE ONE, Juice Performer, Garden of Life, Club Northwest, Stryd, Amp HP, Fuel 100 Electrobites, Kahtoola, and Beyond Coastal. It doesn’t hurt that he stands as an engaging, charismatic person, too.

Joseph Gray (L) leads Andy Wacker for 13.1 miles winning the 2018 USATF National Trail Half Marathon Championship


Along with the similarities between snowshoeing and running, there are some differences to be aware of when transitioning to snowshoeing for cross-training.

Wider Gait

Avid Minnesota snowshoer Ron Dockery, the U.S. flag bearer in the 2013 World Duathlon Championships and competitor in the 27.5km sprint events of running/bicycling, recalled his transition to the sport. “As a runner, pre-snowshoe, I ran with a very narrow gate, meaning my footstrike would be in-line. When I started snowshoeing, I ended up on the snow several times in a face plant due to my mindset that running is running no matter what is on the bottom of your feet. I quickly found the end of one snowshoe stuck in the front of the other, thus the face plant. I learned to take a broader footstrike. Now my face plants are as a result of trying to enjoy the wonders of snowshoeing in the woods by looking at the beautiful picture that winter paints and not watching where I am going.”

Varying Terrain

Snowshoe racing veteran, Woodward, describes the comparisons he sees with various other sports and snowshoeing. “Snowshoeing presents a challenge for most newcomers as the technique is slightly more awkward than simply running one foot in front of the other. You also have to deal with varying terrains and sometimes deep snow, which can be frustrating for rhythm runners…”

However, “…most strength runners specializing in mountain running will enjoy the variations in terrain. Cross country runners who love tough courses will find that snowshoeing is very similar; close, except with more vertical change typically. Of course, this is a great thing if you do better on the muddy or hilly courses.”

Perhaps you’ve never gone off-road to run and harbor fears of the differences in terrain from pavement to wooded paths, trails through open fields, or even following dirt roads. Richard Bolt, the 2017 Cindy Brochman Memorial Snowshoe Magazine Person of the Year, offers these tips through the American Trail Running Association: “8 Trail Running Tips: How to Get Started.”

Richard Bolt at the 2014 DION Snowshoes USSSA National Championships

More Lift

Jim Tucker, known as the Dean of Fun at Paul Smith’s College notes, “Whether running on the wooden snowshoes back in the day or on the much smaller, narrower (key to avoiding banging the ankle bone) and lighter snowshoes, there is a wonderful cadence that develops while training and racing on snowshoes.

Snow is a forgiving surface, and when running or jogging on a groomed surface, the cushioning of the snow requires a greater lift from your hip flexors than distance runners are used to.  When running through powder, these hip flexors and hamstrings can really get a workout.

One of the first things I will point out to anyone who is putting on snowshoes for the first time, recreationally or for training/racing, look at the flex point of the snowshoes and use this as a guide on where to place the ball of your foot.  There are generally two rivets or a hinge rod at the pivot point of the snowshoe for your foot.  You want the ball of your foot to freely pivot at the flex point of the snowshoe, and your toes will readily flow down through the open space of the snowshoe.”

A snow rabbit rests in the far distance, but as I try to snowshoe closer for a sharper view, the rabbit tracks away effortlessly, its snowshoe footprints imprinted in the snow. I marveled at the rabbit’s speed and wished to be as fast. 


Even if you are already a runner, trying on snowshoes for the first time can be intimidating. Here are a few suggestions with trying to get started.

Try Out A Clinic

Across the U.S. and Canada, many resorts and national parks will offer snowshoe clinics for first-timers or more advanced snowshoers.

The snowshoe team at Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, Canada, opened up about their clinic and success stories. “We have a variety of snowshoe clinics available for various ability levels and interests. From Beginner or Baby and Me clinics right up to competitive training. You can sign up for a specific 4-session clinic, or we also offer a twice-weekly drop-in night that offers more flexibility.

Our drop-in Snowshoe Social Nights are open to all levels of ability. Participants are grouped in similar ability levels by our snowshoe guides before heading out on their adventure. You can enjoy anywhere from a leisurely stroll to an active workout.”

At Grouse Mountain, “Some of our most successful and memorable tours have taken place with groups that have never experienced winter conditions. To take guests that have never seen snow and tour them around the alpine area and see their reactions to the environment and throwing their first snow-ball is always memorable. We have also had some really great nights on our Snowshoe Fondue and  New and Full moon tours that we offer.”

Go Out And Try It!

As an alternative to clinics, Andrew Woodard, Braveheart Snowshoe Series racing veteran suggests, “I would recommend just getting out and finding some friends who would also like to try something new and partake together.” Trying out a new sport with those closest to you can be an unforgettable adventure in itself!

Snowshoeing can also be done at anytime, day or night. “Snowshoeing at night is, I think, probably one of the most awe-inspiring things you can do. The stars are like beacons in the night sky, and the sheer lack of noise is amazing. I recall ‘shoeing at night on a local golf course (with permission) with my headlamp on, and I looked out over the course and far away was a faint light coming towards me. I continued, and as the light got closer and closer, I soon found myself in the middle of nowhere talking to Braveheart Jim McDonnel and his dog.

What a great experience. We both laughed and went a bit further, enjoying the night and laughing about the fact that we were both nuts for being out there while enjoying the art of snowshoeing. I guess the point of this is that there is more to snowshoeing than just the effort. You meet a select group of people who are all so nice and have at least one thing in common. I have never met a snowshoe athlete who is nothing less than accepting and an instant friend. I guess we are all a little bit crazy but in a fun sort of way.”

Continue to challenge yourself to new ideas, new methods, new sports.

Join Other Runners

One team of runners is the notable snowshoe racing team from Paul Smith’s College, started by Jim Tucker.

Tucker, still known as the Dean of Fun at Paul Smith’s College, devotes much of his time to fun in the outdoors. From the family potato farm in Gabriels, New York, and as an Eagle Scout, he received an education that has let him devote his life to endurance athletics in running, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, duathlons, triathlons, swimming, and canoeing. As a kid snowshoeing became his way to get to the big hill where kids rode a toboggan, explore the frozen woodland swamps above the mud and water, and begin to understand wildlife.

The Boy Scouts had an annual Klondike Derby, and there were different variations of the snowshoe race or relay from year to year.  “Even as an 11-year old Tenderfoot, I was the most skilled and fastest kid in Troop 12 on snowshoes due to the time I had put into the utilitarian footwear as a matter of choice.  I was 13 or so; there was an annual snowshoe race as part of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, held at the Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club,” which he won.

“It was not until 1987 when I got to Paul Smith’s College that I discovered aluminum framed snowshoes.  I had seen that snowshoeing had become a part of the annual Empire State Winter Games, and once I got to Paul Smith’s and immediately started the Paul Smith’s College Striders.  This endurance training and racing organization were coordinated through Student Activities, and we headed to road races, bike races, trail running events, marathon canoe races, and multisport events in the winter and spring as well as summer.

Most of these kids have never been on snowshoe before coming to Paul Smith’s College, but they are generally cross-country runners, high school track runners, soccer players, or Paul Smith’s College rugby players before we get to snowshoe racing season.

Our racing season is really short, due to the month-long break between semesters.  We hold the Jingle Bell 5K snowshoe race the second Saturday in December, and the students immediately have final exams and head home.  The runners depart with their snowshoes, but many reside where there is little to no consistent snow.  These kids are at a disadvantage for training, as I bring them back to campus on the third Thursday in January, and we head to snowshoe races for Saturday and Sunday leading up to the start of the spring semester.”


Avoid Overdressing

Runner and executive chef Weimar Gomez says, “I think one of the most important things to do when we practice in snowshoes is to maintain the right temperature of the body; we quickly feel hot when running especially if we over-cover (dressed). Once we finish it is important to maintain warm until the time we can change. Hydration is important as in summertime, and some gels to support energy are suitable as well. We spend more energy in cold days especially in the first minutes when the body uses that energy to fight against the conditions.”

Dean Tucker says, “I see new snowshoe runners with too many clothes on at the beginning of a training session or race.  If you are warm when you are getting started, you are going to overheat.”

Appropriate Gear

Whereas fleece jackets and pants were quite popular a couple of years ago, there is nothing better to enhance looking like Frosty the Snowman than training or racing in fleece.  The outer garments have to be designed to allow the snow that is kicked up to immediately fall back off the garment.

You can wear the same running shoes for snowshoeing as you do on the summer roads.  You may choose to wear a waterproof and breathable trail running shoe for snowshoe training. In regard to actual snowshoes, racing snowshoes are recommended as they are shorter, narrower, and lighter.

Running gaiters can prevent the snow from sticking to the socks, or balls of crusty snow from falling into the shoes behind the heal.  Also, and most importantly, melting and creating wet feet.  Some sock fibers seem to attract snowballs, and if these snowballs remain, I’ve seen runners Achilles rubbed raw during a snowshoe race.  Wool clothing is a wonderful fiber, but snowshoe training and racing will result in snow bonding to the wool socks at the ankles.

For most athletes, thin gloves will be fine most of the time.  I had found that a Gore-tex over-mitt was advantageous when the temperatures were below zero.  These are lightweight, so if my hands did get too warm, I could take them off and hold them like a running baton for the remainder of the race.  There is also the advantage of putting them back on if the wind conditions warrant it.

Sunglasses not only make you look cool, but they are also designed to protect your eyes.  The sunglasses allow you to see the contours of the snow surface much better and when racing or training with friends, they can protect you from the snow chunks that get thrown up from their snowshoes.  They can also protect you from low branches that might generally be above your head, but due to the weight of the snow the limbs are lower. Also, with the snow under your feet, you are physically higher on the trails during the winter.

Serenity defined

Prepare for Changing Conditions

When you finish your workout or race, having an entire set of dry, comfortable clothes to put on is wonderful.  I work with 18-to-22-year-olds, and whether working with them in early season marathon canoe training or anytime with snowshoeing I strongly encourage them to bring along an entire set of warm, dry, comfortable clothing.

For the first 15 minutes or so after your training or racing, you will be warm or hot and feeling euphoric. Once you have done your cool down, encourage your fellow athletes, then rehydrate and get into dry clothing from the base layer outward.  Being dry, warm and rehydrated after spending time running through the woods feels great.

Also, I retain over a dozen hats and generally bring along a couple of hats to work each day knowing conditions will change.

“Under more seasonal conditions, running tights or loose-fitting snow-shedding training pants are more appropriate.  If it is truly cold and windy out, then having a wind block layer on the front should be considered.  By cold, I am referring to below zero (F), or if it is breezy and 10 above.”

Chloe Mattilio on the Paul Smith’s College Snowshoe Team at the 2015 Eau Claire USSSA National Championships


Dean Tucker talks about how “Our season concludes with the DION USSSA National Championships, so we compress several races in a seven or eight-week time span. I have to rely on the students to train as efficiently as they can over the month-long holiday break as their training can result in solid performances during the seven-week season.  These kids are young, so we frequently seek out races on both Saturday and Sunday so they can race in two different locations on back to back days.  This requires that they learn to properly rehydrate, pack sufficient dry clothes, to learn the value of a boot dryer, seek proper sleep, and to learn to train efficiently.

Sign Up For A Snowshoe Race

Dean Tucker’s advice, “Go to a snowshoe race, pay the entry fee, and rent a pair of loaners for the event.  Talk to your fellow athletes before and after the event, and share contact information.  There are plenty of snowshoe manufacturers making good training and racing snowshoes, and the snowshoe world is quite friendly.  Try on several models before buying a pair.  Before long you may have two or three pair, with each model servicing specific conditions like packed trails, icy conditions, or powder snow.”

Running like the rabbit (photo courtesy Grouse Mountain)

Scott and Sarah Gall own The Runner’s Flat in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Scott won the 2015 USSSA National Championship raced in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Both have earned spots on the US Snowshoe National Teams. Scott said, “I find that as long as the grass is covered completely, snowshoeing is a fun adventure.  And thinking of snowshoeing as an adventure is a great way for persons to enter the sport with enjoyment and confidence.

Go For Time

Scott continues, “Just like any other cardio activity, I encourage people to simply go for time, not distance or pace.  The first couple of times, I encourage them to simply hike a little, run a little, and get used to them.  Once they have found some rhythm, hiking or running slowly for extended periods of time will offer them the chance to enjoy the magic of snowshoeing in the snow, in the outdoors, in the quiet peacefulness of winter.

The mistakes we’ve seen have been people trying to go at a pace way too fast or a distance way too long without giving the activity the appropriate respect it deserves.  Realizing that they are running through the snow with two over-sized shoes, weighing one to four pounds, attached to their feet, should help them also remind themselves to take it slow and enjoy the activity in its breathtaking scenery and not the speed or distance with which they are moving.

Racing for medals! Scott Gall, a USSSA National Champion, shown here at the 2010 Dion Snowshoe USSSA National Snowshoe Championships, New York

Ron Dockery further says, “I also learned more about pacing than I could ever do running.  It took a mindset change for me to understand that if you go out on your shoes at the same pace you normally run, flame-out is inevitable, and you end up looking like you are running in post holes.

Start Slow

Scott and Sarah mention, “We also encourage them to go for short amounts of time for the first few times they go.  To only go once or twice a week as part of their cross-training or as part of a portion of their run workout for a day but not to all of a sudden, snowshoe every day and not run or do the other types of workouts that they are used to.  Adjusting slowly to the physical demands of snowshoeing is highly recommended.  Over-doing any type of new physical activity is usually never good.

Finally, I encourage those who are wanting to race snowshoes to still only snowshoe once or twice a week.  Staying in good 5K or 10K shape is far more beneficial than running hard and slow on snowshoes five days a week and losing your turnover rate and speed.  I like to do one workout, and one easy run a week on snowshoes and then keep the other runs as normal runs so that I am ready for all snowshoeing conditions whether that be fast-packed groomed trails, single track, hills, powder or any combination of these.  Those that overdo the snowshoe training seem to be able to snowshoe forever but don’t seem to be able to do so as fast as those who are still a well-rounded endurance athlete.”

The rabbit’s tiny feet, though large in proportion, handle the snow or trails, adapting to the weather; such a marvel of Nature. We deflect weather’s blustering if dressing properly, sporting appropriate gear, leaving our prints in the snow much like the rabbit. Oh, the joy, the freedom in space and time.

Go Mental

Standing in the buffet line at the USATF Minnesota Awards Celebration, I turned and met Female High School champion Julia Fixsen. Winning her award through the sport of pole vaulting, I asked what the biggest challenge is for her. I expected an answer dealing with some physicality like hanging on as the pole slings her over the bar or how to release to avoid the crossbar.  Nope, none of that. Instead, her answer revealed why she is a champion: “It’s mental.”

One of the most Influential movie directors ever, Steven Spielberg once answered a question “What is the hardest part of making a movie?” with this reply: “Getting out of the car.”

Maybe you have felt that emotion when arriving at a competition, whether running, snowshoeing or a race of any other type. But, you overcome the mental block you established in the first place and edge yourself right to the start line. Overcome the same block that stops you from zipping on a pair of snowshoes for a race, fun, or training. Engage that muscle on top of your head. Use your brain to overcome the anxiety of the unknown. Refresh your racing repertoire with running snowshoes. Doing so will channel your inner rabbit.





INXS “New Sensation” written by Andrew Farriss, Michael Hutchence

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Snowshoeing in Gatineau Park, Gatineau, Quebec Sun, 03 Mar 2019 19:12:58 +0000 Gatineau Park is a protected area of semi-wilderness lying just outside the Quebec city of Gatineau. It’s just a quick 18 minute trip across the river from Ottawa, Canada’s capital city into the province of Quebec, which boasts some of … Continue reading

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Taken from Lac Meech on a -30C day with 50km/hr winds, we faced numerous whiteouts trying to cross the lake. As we approached the Western shore the clouds broke above a large hill and provided some awesome contrast with the house and shadows below.

Gatineau Park is a protected area of semi-wilderness lying just outside the Quebec city of Gatineau. It’s just a quick 18 minute trip across the river from Ottawa, Canada’s capital city into the province of Quebec, which boasts some of the finest and most impressive natural landscapes in Eastern Canada. This provides an easy and affordable escape to nature for residents of the area, and those from out of town.

The park, which lies nestled in the Gatineau Hills range of the much larger Laurentian Mountains supports several small communities. It also is the location of the Prime Minister’s summer home, and boasts a rich history of important figures and events in Canadian history.

Park Information and History

Gatineau Park is an area steeped in interesting history, in terms of the events that have taken place here over the years and those that have called the area home. It does not take long before visitors of the park realize why so many, including the Prime Minister of Canada, have grown to love the area and why many have decided to call it home. The natural landscapes and friendly communities make the area a true treasure.

With Gatineau Park outside of the bight lights of nearby cities, you can catch some pretty incredible starry skies at night.

An area first settled by the Indigenous Anishinaabe People, Europeans first settled the area in the 1700s. The area became a park in 1938 and has grown in size and in residents’ hearts ever since. The area includes historical sites such as the MacKenzie King Estate and the Carbide Ruins. It also includes natural points of interest such as the Luskville Caves and Luskville Falls.

The area is home to a myriad of lakes offering snowshoeing opportunities in the winter and canoe opportunities in the warmer seasons. Accessing any of the well maintained snowshoe trails within the park is easy to do. It can also provide a quick and enjoyable escape from the bustle of city life.

Where To Snowshoe

The park offers 60 kms of snowshoe trails. These vary from easy and relatively flat to much more difficult areas with significant up and downhill portions. The trails take snowshoers around the many lakes and through the hills of Gatineau. This offers amazing views of the natural landscape as well as views of Ottawa in the distance.

A sunrise snowshoe on the Lac Philippe Trail. The trail is a steady 12.7 kms of hilly terrain and requires a full day to complete which allows for both sunrise and sunset light along the adventure.

Lac Philippe Trail

Popular routes include the 12.7 km trail around Lac Philippe, with significant elevation gain and loss throughout the hike. This trail winds itself through classic Canadian boreal forest and Northern groves of beautiful red oak trees. This trail is one of the longest trails in the park requiring a full day to complete. Less visitors use the trail because it is located in the most Northern reaches of the park. This offers a more remote escape than is likely to be found on other trails.

Wolf Trail

Flicking up some snow on the Wolf Trail

A trail that is located closer to Ottawa and the small town of Chelsea is the 7.9 km Wolf Trail, located near Lac Meech. This trail quickly gains elevation while making multiple frozen creek crossings and passing old abandoned beaver ponds. In the summertime these ponds would be hotbeds of activity for moose and other forest creatures. As you continue along the trail, it will carry you up and above the forest cover along ridge lines. This overlooks much of the park landscape and surrounding Gatineau hills topography.

As the trail generally runs in a westerly direction, the viewpoints can offer some spectacular sunsets for those that come prepared for navigating in low light conditions. If you choose to set out on this trail near sundown, remember to bring a headlamp, emergency gear and extra food. Even though the trail is well marked and receives consistent cell service, it is always best to be prepared.

Cabin Snowshoeing

Take shelter in the Herridge public cabin within the park. It was a cold night at -25C and the warm wood stove provided a welcoming break with friends.

Another popular activity in Gatineau Park is night time snowshoeing to one of the public cabins located throughout the park. The park has purchased or erected these cabins through the years. They serve as a communal spot to sit by a warm wood stove, play a round of cards or enjoy some conversation. The cabins are open both night and day. However, they possess a certain atmosphere at night that makes the dark and cold trek through the quiet forest of Gatineau Park worthwhile. Remember to bring some candles or a lantern along for the venture. The cabins are not serviced, which is in part why they hold such a rustic charm.

Guided Treks

Taken on Lac Meech as well, the extreme cold can cause the ice to pop and groan. This provides for a pretty surreal experience as long as you are willing to brave the open exposure to the elements.

Guided treks are offered January to March, which include animal tracking on snowshoes or snowshoeing under the stars. The tour includes snowshoes. However, if you decide to go out of your own, snowshoes can be rented for 9 CAD/ hr or 28 CAD/day. No matter which of the many trails available in Gatineau Park you choose, you will be greeted by beautiful scenery, quiet snow covered forest and friendly smiling locals moving along the trail!

Other Activities

Gatineau Park plays host to a wide variety of other activities to enjoy throughout the winter. The park offers 200 kms of cross country ski trails. They go so far as to close down multiple parkways throughout the park during winter months in order to convert them to skiing paths.

As the strong winds howl across many of the large frozen lakes they stir up snow tornadoes.

An excellent day adventure could involve some light cross country skiing followed by some adventurous snowshoeing through the more densely forested snowshoe trails. The park also hosts the small communities of Chelsea and Wakefield. These are both excellent locations to grab a coffee before the day’s activities or end the day over dinner and a drink! The area also plays host to a local ski hill, Camp Fortune, offering a variety of runs from beginner up to black diamond.

This unique and beautiful area of Quebec offers a window into the natural landscape of the Laurentian hills and an excellent place to spend weekends snowshoeing and exploring. A visit here cannot be recommended enough and has kept people coming back year after year.

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Suicide Rock, Idyllwild, CA Wed, 27 Feb 2019 17:28:53 +0000 Suicide Rock is a popular 7.5 mile moderate-to-strenuous hike/snowshoe in Idyllwild, CA. Elevation gain is approximately 1800 feet. The hike begins at Deer Springs trailhead along Highway 243, about a mile north of town. The trail is open year-round, with … Continue reading

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Suicide Rock is a popular 7.5 mile moderate-to-strenuous hike/snowshoe in Idyllwild, CA. Elevation gain is approximately 1800 feet. The hike begins at Deer Springs trailhead along Highway 243, about a mile north of town. The trail is open year-round, with winter being a possibility for snowshoeing. Share in my experience of the trail this winter to start your own adventure.

Trail junction, with Lily Rock in the distance

Experience Suicide Rock In Winter

It did not take long before patches of snow started appearing on the hike up to the overlook at Suicide Rock. The rock named as local legend goes, for two Native American youths—a princess and her lover—who jumped off together because their love was forbidden. I wondered why and how someone, or several people, decided to call it that, instead of maybe something along the lines of: Lover’s Leap.

Nevertheless, my mind wandered less about that and more about the wonder of seeing mothers and dads and kids all out together on a beautiful, chilly morning in winter, getting the blood moving, so to speak. Along the way, many young people were having a good time. They were stopping and making snowballs to throw at each other and their parents, laughter rolling down the hillsides. Two troops of Cub Scouts were out and about in the sunshine, the 7-8 mile round trip hike with over a thousand feet of elevation gain being a classic Idyllwild walk in the mountains. Sure, some seemed a little disgruntled, but the echoes I was hearing from fellow scouts and scout leaders were positive and supportive.

Lily Rock and Tahquitz Peak, Idyllwild, CA

Hearing running water as I walked, the sounds of snow-fed streams were a highlight, for me. At the trail junction, it was worth it to stop and admire Lily Rock in the distance. I continued on, that running water sound pulling me in, causing me to stop a few times to simply listen. At one particular stream crossing, I pushed the pause button and stood still.

The sounds of nature, especially water tumbling down a mountain and wandering through the trees, are healers.

Up and up, the trail went, thus, I did too. Snow was more here-here-and-there than the occasional here-and-there down below, the altitude getting up closer to 7,000 feet. Two men with skis strapped to their backpacks were coming down the trail. Is there anywhere to ski up there, I thought. I did not ask, though, as they seemed to be having their moment together.

Two back-country skiers heading down the trail

Continuing on, the trail meandered and eventually went out into a less-treed area, moving into the clearing and vista point that is Suicide Rock. Before topping out, though, the trail was all snow and ice, with a few spots requiring steady footing, as I opted to not use my snowshoes. I was glad that I did bring my trekking poles. The extra security they provided kept things to a manageable walk-in-the-park experience.

Friends and families and lovers were hanging out, enjoying the winter’s day at 7,500 feet. Lily Rock across the way was a focal point. The higher snowy ridges offered a panoramic backdrop to gaze upon while eating trail snacks and having a drink.

Content in the experience, I started my way back down the trail. The snow and ice was a little more treacherous since I was going downhill. But again, the trekking poles were the difference-maker versus not having something to steady the way. It was mid-afternoon and people were still on their way up, some first-timers asking how much farther it was to the lookout.

San Jacinto Mountains, Idyllwild, CA

“You have another 5 minutes or so to go.”

“You have another 20 minutes or so to go.”

And so on and so forth until, “You still going up to Suicide Rock this afternoon?”

“Dunno. Is it far? We’re just out for a walk.” A family with no set plans walked up the trail, going beyond the turn-around point, for them, from last time. This time, together, they went a little higher.

Knowing so, as I went down, I felt uplifted.

Eat and Drink 411

Idyllwild Coffee Roasters/Higher Grounds Coffee Shop in the center of town has all you need to get your morning buzz going:

The Town Baker is a little hidden but seek it out for yummy food and a relaxed, easy-going start to the day, meaning do not go if you are on the clock. No website, but check out their reviews.

Beautiful manzanita is common along the Suicide Rock trail

Idyllwild Brew Pub has standard bar food to go with their very tasty beer. They also have a full bar (wine and liquor to go with the beer)

Idyll Awhile is a wine shop with a bar and tables inside, as well as outside on the patio. Stop in for a post-hike snack. There is often live music.

Additional Trail Info

To be on many of the trails above Idyllwild, you need a free day-use permit. Go to the US Forest Service office in the center of town to get it.

Camping is also available in the area.

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Erie County, New York: Department of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Winter Activities Wed, 20 Feb 2019 23:01:16 +0000 Winter, it is a tough time of the year to keep in shape and to enjoy nature for some people. However, winter is really a beautiful season and probably the most beautiful time of the year, especially to participate in … Continue reading

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Winter, it is a tough time of the year to keep in shape and to enjoy nature for some people. However, winter is really a beautiful season and probably the most beautiful time of the year, especially to participate in activities, including snowshoeing.

In Erie County, New York, there are many great places to snowshoe. Most of these places are in parks where you can do other winter activities like cross-country skiing, sledding and ice skating.

The areas presented in this article are part of the Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, which include parks, golf courses, hiking trails, and forests. All of the areas below  allow snowshoes, however certain areas such as 18 Mile Creek, Boston Forest, Franklin Gulf, and Hunters Creek just have snowshoeing. As conditions change, Erie County provides an update for winter activities in each park, which are described more below.

Eighteen Mile Creek Park

photo courtesy of Mike Radomski

Eighteen Mile Creek is an undeveloped park of approximately 465 acres near the town of Hamburg. There are many interesting trails over two distinctive areas, the North Branch and the South Branch. Most of the trails are flat and run along Eighteen Mile Creek. The 60 foot deep gorge cut by the creek however, is a view to behold.

There are varying options for trails, a few of which start at the top of the ridge and go around the top, and other trails that go down into the gorge. These trails are easy and traveled moderately by both snowshoers and hikers. There are no buildings in this park, shelters or bathrooms so being prepared for this is essential. The only parking area is on the side of the road near the park. A map of Eighteen Mile Creek is available courtesy of Mike Radomski.

Akron Falls

The main trail in Akron Falls County Park is a short, approx 2 km trail that follows right along Murder Creek and is fairly easy hike. As you follow the creek, the trail eventually reaches a waterfall, with many ravines and cliffs to explore along the way. Murder Creek has its own fascinating, but tragic love story.  Areas of the hike are on privately owned land and caution should be taken though along the cliffs and waterfalls.

All trails are ungroomed in Akron Falls County Park. There are many shelters, bathrooms, and buildings, such as Cummings Lodge located next to the creek, which you can use to relax and warm up in. Parking is available next to any of the shelters or buildings. A map of Akron Falls Park is available courtesy of Mike Radomski.

If you want to experience other activities, Akron Falls County Park also offers cross-country ski trails, snowboarding, ice skating, and sledding opportunities.

Boston Forest

Photo courtesy of Mike Radomski

Boston Forest is an undeveloped park near Boston, NY. It consists of nearly 710 acres and has many hiking and snowshoeing trails, which are good for beginners. The main trail starts on flat ground and then heads up a hill, and flattens alongside of Rice Hill Road. Along the trail, you’ll pass over creeks and through thick forests. There are no buildings in this park, shelters or bathrooms. The only parking area is on the side of the road. All trails are ungroomed. A map is available courtesy of Mike Radomski.

Chestnut Ridge

Snowshoeing Chestnut Ridge- Photo courtesy of Mike Radomski

The eternal flame- Photo courtesy of Mike Radomski

Chestnut Ridge is one of the most widely used parks in Erie County in the winter, as many winter activities are available. You can snowshoe, cross-country ski, snowboard, sled, and toboggan. Chestnut Ridge also plays host to snowshoe races throughout the year. The trails in this area range from easy to difficult. Snowshoe through thick forests on backcountry single track trails and dirt roads.

The Eternal Flame is a natural gas flame in Chestnut Ridge the burns all the time, and hardly ever goes out. This fascinating flame is located under a waterfall just outside the main area of the park.

Snowshoe racing in Chestnut Ridge, Photo by Adam Niziol and Tom Niziol

In this park, all trails are ungroomed. There are many shelters, bathrooms, and buildings you can use to relax and warm up in. Specifically in the Casino Building, there is a fireplace, food stand, and coffee shop, which is an optimal place to break from the cold. Parking is available at any of the shelters or buildings. A map of Chestnut Ridge is available courtesy of Mike Radomski.

Como Lake Park

Como Lake Park receives many visitors in the winter, especially ice skaters and people that want to go sledding. However, Como Lake offers areas to snowshoe too.  The trails are flat and easy to hike on, and you can hike to the man-made waterfall, lighthouse, and pond. One trail crosses the north and south island by two bridges that span Cayuga Creek, which flows through the park. There is also a Boy Scout nature trail in the park near the Boy Scout Area, that is a connector for other trails. Some additional trail options include a trail in the front of the park near William, and a trail that runs along Lake Ave and Como Park Blvd on the outside of the park. Check out the map of Como Lake Park for more details.

All trails in this park are ungroomed, but there are many shelters, bathrooms, and buildings you can use to relax and warm up in, such as the casino building near the ice skating pond, and Lancaster place. The casino building actually has a fireplace you can sit near too. Parking is available at any of the shelters or buildings.

Ellicott Creek Park

View of Ellicott Creek Park, courtesy of Adam Niziol

Ellicott Creek Park is a mostly flat, wide open park that is great for beginner snowshoers. The park has three sections total, one main section and two smaller sections in the north part of the park. In the main section, there is a trail that runs along the outside of the park in a small wooded area. If your dog wants some time to explore too, there is a dog park on the island.  As an alternative to snowshoeing, the park has a paved biking trail that has many shelters and buildings along it.

All trails in Ellicott Creek park are ungroomed. There are many shelters, bathrooms, and buildings you can use to relax and warm up in. The casino building offers a fireplace, or you can rest in the Friendship building. Parking is available at any of the shelters or buildings in the park.

Elma Meadows

map of Elma Meadows- courtesy of Adam Niziol

Elma Meadows Golf Course and Park consists of an 18 hole golf course and a small 6 shelter park loop. On the golf course, there are 2 groomed cross-country ski trail loops that total 8k/4.9 miles. These trails connect with the other trails and access roads in the park and on the golf course. The park is very hilly and wide open so make sure you dress warmly because the wind whips across the golf course. There is some relief on the access roads where the wind is blocked by trees and in the park. You can warm up near the fireplace in the clubhouse and there is also a food stand where you can purchase a snack. Parking is available at the clubhouse.

Emery Park

Emery Park is a pretty hilly park and is used mostly in the winter time for downhill skiing and snowboarding. However, Emery Park offers opportunities to hike, cross-country ski and snowshoe as well.

Photo by Adam Niziol

The cross-country ski trail, which can also be used for snowshoeing, is a two-mile trail that starts at the top of the downhill ski slope to the left of the tow rope building. The trail continues down across a bridge over a waterfall and the stream, along to the baseball field. As you continue along, the trail goes into the woods and follows the tree line to the edge of the west end of the park. You will eventually go downhill to the edge of the park on the north end, and then will travel back up the hill over towards the downhill ski slope. The entire trail is a loop so you will finish where you started.

You can travel on this trail any way you would like and you can connect with the other trails in the park. A more detailed map of Emery Park is available courtesy of Adam Niziol. There are many shelters, bathrooms, and buildings you can use to relax and warm up in, including the ski lodge, field house, and the Stohrer’s building. You can park at any of the shelters or buildings.

Bureau of Foresty

Snowshoeing fun, Photo courtesy of Mike Radomski

The Bureau of Forestry in Erie County is a beautiful forest where you can explore many trails. The trails here are ungroomed, both marked and unmarked, and are used for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and snowmobiling. These trails include Scarbuck Trail, Silent Woods Trail Loop, and portions of the Conservation Trail, which is part of the Finger Lakes Trail System. A series of trails are specially designed for equestrian hiking and snowmobiling. The terrain throughout the Bureau of Forestry varies from gentle to steep.

There are 2 warming huts with wood stoves, 2 picnic shelters, public bathrooms and a visitor center with a wood burning stove. There is also a working sugar shack and sawmill, and you can reserve tours of both facilities. Parking is available at any of the shelters or buildings.

Having fun in Franklin Gulf, Photo by Mike Radomski

Franklin Gulf

Franklin Gulf is a forest area formally know as “Larkin Woods”. The trails of the Franklin Gulf park traverse over creeks, waterfalls, ravines and ledge outcroppings, and are mostly used for snowshoeing and hiking. A more detailed map of the area is available courtesy of Mike Radomski. There are no buildings, shelters or bathrooms in this area. You can park in a parking lot off of Larkin Road, just before North Collins Town Line.

Grover Cleveland Golf Course

Located in Buffalo, Grover Cleveland Golf Course is a flat wide open area that has a groomed cross-country ski trail along the outside of the park. This area can be used for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking. You warm up in the clubhouse, and there are also bathrooms on the property. Parking is available at the clubhouse.

Rademacher Memorial Park

Sgt. Mark A. Rademacher Memorial Park, commonly referred to as Hunters Creek consists of farmland and wooded areas. This area is used for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking, and hiking. The trails are ungroomed, and there are no buildings, shelters or bathrooms. You can park on Hunters Creek Road on the east, or Centerline Road at Vermont Hill Road to the south. A more detailed map of Hunters Creek is available courtesy of Mike Radomski.

Sprague Brook Park

Photo courtesy of Mike Radomski, traditional prints in Sprague Brook

Finally, Sprague Brook Park is very popular with people who like to cross-country ski, snowshoe, hike, fat bike, sled, and snowmobile. There is a beautiful 2.5 mile loop groomed cross-country ski trail that is available for snowshoers, when there is enough snow. Along the trail, there are lean-tos that you can stop at and relax, including a warming hut at the start of the trail.

There are also a few ungroomed and unmarked single track trails throughout the park. More details can be found in the park map by Mike Radomski. Sprague Brook Park also includes a fireplace, picnic tables and benches. Parking is available next to any of the shelters or buildings, however most people park at the cross-country ski trail next to the warming hut.

For more information, visit Erie County Parks, Recreation and Forestry on their website.

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Pump Up Your Iron with Advice from Registered Dietitian Sarah Kasman Fri, 15 Feb 2019 16:24:21 +0000 Snowshoe athletes who follow a regular training schedule or simply are training at a high level can be at risk of becoming anemic. In a recent interview, Sarah Kasman, registered dietitian (RD) at Copeman Healthcare in Western Canada, suggests seeing … Continue reading

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Snowshoe athletes who follow a regular training schedule or simply are training at a high level can be at risk of becoming anemic. In a recent interview, Sarah Kasman, registered dietitian (RD) at Copeman Healthcare in Western Canada, suggests seeing your doctor first to see if you are iron deficient. She says, “Although having a high-level athleticism could provide a slightly higher risk of iron deficiency, it’s important to note that anemia is very individualized and can be a result of a number of factors aside from exercise, such as genetics or diet.”

Why Is Iron Important?

Courtesy of Max Pixel

Keeping your iron levels balanced is the key to performing at your best. According to Copeman Health Care Centre’s information, “Iron is a very important mineral for health…Iron carries oxygen to all parts of your body (and), a shortage of iron can lead to a feeling of tiredness, low energy, weight loss, and a weakened immune system.” As an athlete of any level, it’s of utmost importance to ensure the immune system is functioning properly.

Sarah adds, “In order to prevent any type of anemia, it’s really important to ensure that you’re eating regular balanced meals to maintain a healthy/stable body weight. You also want to make sure you’re eating enough to support your activity levels. If you’re not eating enough period, you could be at risk for a number of nutrient deficiencies.”

Tips Provided From Copeland Health Centre To Increase Iron Absorption:

  1. Include foods rich in iron at every meal.
  2. Eat non-heme (plant-based) iron sources rich in vitamin C to increase iron absorption.
    • Add beans, peas or lentils to tomato sauce for a tasty iron-rich spaghetti sauce.
    • Have an orange with your breakfast cereal or oatmeal.
  3. Eat heme (animal-based) sources of iron at the same time as non-heme sources of iron.
    • Add nuts to the chicken when making a stir fry.
  4. Cook in cast iron or stainless steel cookware.
  5. Avoid drinking tea or coffee with iron-rich foods

Additional Tips Provided by RD Sarah Kasman

I followed up with Sarah to ask about other healthy foods and supplements that she would recommend. Similar to the tips provided by Copeland, she said, “If you’re worried about not getting enough iron, try incorporating iron-rich foods into your diet. This could include meats (livers, oysters, etc.) or non-meat sources such as hemp hearts, white cannellini beans, or cooked spinach.

You would also want to focus on encouraging iron absorption by including fruits/veggies for vitamin C with each meal. Also try to avoid drinking caffeinated tea/coffee around your meal times, as caffeine competes for absorption.

In terms of supplements, they are really individualized based on your needs and for what you can’t get through food. Talk to your dietitian or healthcare provider who will be able to give you the best options personalized to you.”

Breakfast Options For Athletes

Photo courtesy of Copeman Healthcare Centre

Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, especially as an athlete. Here are a few breakfast options:

  • Oatmeal with fruit, Greek yogurt, and hemp hearts
  • Two slices of toast with 1/4 of an avocado, 1 egg, and a piece of fruit

Keep in mind that you’ll want to practice what you eat for breakfast BEFORE your competition (NOT the day of!) – try out a few different combinations when you train to find the right mix that works to keep you fueled and performing your best!

Sarah adds, “Breakfast options before you train would really depend on how much time you have beforehand. If you only have half an hour, you’ll want something simple that will provide you with quick energy (quick releasing carb vs. protein). If you have a few hours to digest, you could have something more substantial.”

Snack Options for Athletes

She continues, “As for snacks, here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. If you’re exercising under 1.5 hours, you likely won’t need on-the-go nutrition beyond water and possibly electrolytes.
  2. If you’re going for longer than two hours, you’ll want to aim to take in anywhere between 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour. This will help keep you fueled with a low-moderate amount of protein (depending on your body’s tolerance levels).

    Courtesy of Max Pixel

Examples of snacks that might be good to bring with you include:

  • Banana
  • Trail mix with dried fruit (0.25 cup of dried fruit per hour) – nut intake will depend on your body’s tolerance
  • Granola bar with a piece of fruit

For ultra-endurance (five plus hours), you might want to consider more sustained energy and a larger source of protein. Again, this will depend on your body’s ability to tolerate protein/fat intake while exercising, and you will want to trial this before your competition.

In all instances when you’re snowshoeing or doing any kind of cold weather activity, don’t forget about electrolytes and hydration because you really don’t notice how much you’re sweating.”

Overall, see your doctor to check if you are iron deficient and before taking any iron supplements.

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Snowshoeing and Hot Springing in McCall, Idaho Wed, 13 Feb 2019 17:28:18 +0000 In my mind, there is no better way to spend a winter vacation than by playing in the snow, soaking in hot springs, and sipping hot beverages. McCall, Idaho is just the place to have that iconic winter vacation.

My … Continue reading

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In my mind, there is no better way to spend a winter vacation than by playing in the snow, soaking in hot springs, and sipping hot beverages. McCall, Idaho is just the place to have that iconic winter vacation.

My husband Henry, 11-year-old Anders, 10-year-old Finn, and myself started in Boise and drove north to McCall. When we passed through the little town of Cascade, we took a hard right onto Warm Lake Road. We drove 16 snow-covered miles to a pullout on the left side of the road, located at the turnoff for Forest Service Road 497A and the Big Creek Summit Trail. We had to do a little shoveling to make the pullout big enough to fit our car. Since 497A isn’t plowed, we snowshoed the 0.03 miles to the trailhead to begin our hike.

Day 1: Snowshoeing the Big Creek Summit Trail

The Big Creek Summit Trail starts in a meadow with an old cabin and meanders northeast. According to the Forest Service, the trail is hard to follow without snow so naturally we found it quite difficult with snow too. It didn’t matter to us, though. We had snowshoes, plenty of food and hot tea, and the right clothing for this relatively warm day. So we walked in the general direction of the trail (I think). The official trail is 3.1 miles one-way and climbs along two ridges with spectacular views of Six-bit Creek drainage into the South Fork Salmon River drainage. We hiked about the route for a couple miles before turning back toward the car.

Day 1: Soaking in Trail Creek Hot Springs

It was only another three miles of driving to arrive at the pullout for Trail Creek Hot Springs. This is a popular spot, so we didn’t expect to have it to ourselves and were surprised to see the parking area was empty.

Peaking over the snow bank, we could see steam coming from the river below and we knew we had arrived. A soak in these undeveloped hot springs in the Boise National Forest was just what we needed to start our winter family vacation off right.

We slid down the steep, but short, trail to the creek with my son, Anders in the lead. After a quick stripping, we gingerly hopped across the snow and cold Trail Creek to one of the hot pots. It wasn’t long before a couple joined us and several other people filled the upper pool. Still, it was magical to sit in hot water surrounded by snowy rocks and trees.

After a nice, long soak, we dragged ourselves back to the car for the rest of the drive to McCall where we’d be spending the night at Hotel McCall. For dinner, we went to Salmon River Brewery where I recommend smoked salmon tacos and their Shiver IPA.

Day 2: Snowshoeing in Ponderosa State Park & at Bear Basin Nordic Center

The next morning, my husband Henry and I got in a quick snowshoe at Ponderosa State Park while the boys slept in. The park is located in McCall, on a peninsula that juts out into Payette Lake.

After the boys were awake, we drove to Bear Basin Nordic Center. Bear Basin has 10 km of marked snowshoe trails and all the trails are pet friendly. Day passes can be purchased at $12 for adults, $5 for youth, and $2 for dogs. Children under 4 do not need a pass.

We started by trekking around the George Drouillard and Fur Rendezvous snowshoe loops, each a little over 1 km. We started near the trailhead and then ventured off into unmarked territory, as we are wont to do. Wandering through the mature Ponderosa pine forest, we started talking about French fur traders as it seemed that’s who some of the trails were named for. Finn had us all imagining that we were tromping through the snow on big, basket-like snowshoes, without really knowing where we were going.

One of my favorite things about being outside with my kids is these family bonding moments. There are plenty of times when the kids are unhappy, and therefore we are unhappy. Lots of meltdowns, cold hands, and hanger (anger due to being hungry) over the years, but there are just as many sweet moments. All the times together –fun and stressful—form our family unit and make for fun(ny) memories.

Day 2: Soaking in Zim’s Hot Springs

A couple hours of snowshoeing had us in the mood for something warm. Zim’s Hot Springs is a commercial hot spring pool, actually two pools, filled with natural hot spring water and cooled with water from the Little Salmon River. It’s chlorinated, which we normally don’t like, but it didn’t bother us this time.

The boys splashed and played, while Henry and I had drinks (in non-glass containers) that we brought for the occasion.

Day 3: McCall Activity Barn

Our third day of snowshoeing and hot springing near McCall was all about the McCall Activity Barn. And it didn’t involve snowshoes or hot springs.

The Activity Barn is one part of Brundage Mountain Resort; The other part is the downhill ski area at Brundage Mountain. The Activity Barn is a few minutes south of McCall. It consists of 5 kilometers of groomed trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snow-biking. There’s also a snow tubing hill and sleigh rides.

We donned our cross-country skis and kicked and glided around the big loop. You could snowshoe here, but it would be at the edge of the ski trail and not very exciting, in my opinion. The rolling, open trails are perfect for skiing or snow-biking.

We worked up a sweat on the trails and spent the afternoon on a sleigh ride and snow-tubing. While our kids like snowshoeing and hot springing, they really love spinning down a hill at breakneck speed in an inner tube. Mom and dad liked it, too

It was time to head back to Boise. Fortunately the drive on Highway 55 is scenic and feels like part of the vacation. There are so many more snowshoe routes and hot springs to explore in the McCall area, I know we will be back.

Additional Info:

Location: McCall, Idaho
Snowshoe: Big Creek Summit Trail, Ponderosa State Park, Bear Basin Nordic Center, McCall Activity Barn
Hot Springs: Trail Creek Hot Springs, Zim’s Hot Springs
Where to Stay: Hotel McCall
Where to Eat: Salmon River Brewery

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