The Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Grand County, Colorado

Grand County offers epic terrain for pretty much every recreational activity an outdoor enthusiast could desire. The area is home to multiple ski resorts, three lakes, and the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. You can also find access points to the Roosevelt and Arapaho National Forests and the Never Summer and Indian Peaks wilderness areas.

In Grand County, there are options for skiing, hiking, snowmobiling, mountain biking, horseback riding, boating, fishing, and, of course, snowshoeing. It has perfect trails for all levels, pleasing everyone from families with children to extreme backcountry experts and everything in between.

trees and forest in Arapaho National Recreational Area, Grand Lake CO

The Arapaho National Recreation Area is only one of the areas in Grand County for snowshoeing. Photo: Susan Wowk

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Areas in Grand County

Each area in Grand County offers unique snowshoeing opportunities, depending on your interests.

  • Winter Park Resort provides guided snowshoe tours throughout the winter (and rentals, if necessary).
  • The Fraser Valley is chock-full of epic mountain biking trails, making great snowshoe terrain when the white stuff piles up (usually by mid-November).
  • The Grand Lake area offers access to the pristine national park trail network and a multitude of lakes. The lakes are a geographic feature known for creating ideal snowshoeing terrain.
  • Finally, the county seat of Hot Sulfur Springs is home to a hot spring resort where snowshoers can enjoy a relaxing soak post-hike.

Below, we highlight trails, ranches, lodges, and ski resorts to meet your snowshoe needs.

Read More: Book Review: Backcountry Skiing and Snowshoeing in Grand County, Colorado

Monarch Lake Trailhead sign, Grand County, CO

Grand County and the Grand Lake area offer many snowshoeing options, including Monarch Lake. Photo: Susan Wowk


Read on for a roundup of some of the best snowshoe trails Grand County has to offer.

Colorado River Trail

The Colorado River Trail is a pleasant 4.2-mile (6.7 km) loop trail in the Columbine neighborhood just outside the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. It is popular with snowshoers who wish to let their dogs take an off-leash romp in the snow.

The River trail is crisscrossed by other easy-to-moderate pathways that meander over small hills and through wooded areas. It flanks tranquil ponds and streams where wildlife sightings are frequent. The trails eventually lead to the riverside, where dogs can get a drink. Additionally, picnic tables are provided for a nice rest or snack break.

Visitors must purchase a trail pass from the Grand Lake Nordic Center, which houses a retail shop with equipment rentals. There is also a lounge with a fireplace and snack bar in a fun social setting with beautiful golf course views. The Nordic Center hosts full moon events in the winter, where you can snowshoe to a bonfire with a bar offering hot chocolate and mulled wine.

Read More: Benefits and Tips for Snowshoeing With Pets

Fraser River Trail

The Fraser River Trail is a popular, paved recreational avenue that runs 6 miles (9.6 km) one-way along Highway 40, connecting the Winter Park Ski Resort and the town of Fraser. Although it doesn’t often have much powder coverage, it offers a nice place to take a winter walk, especially with little ones. It is also the perfect place to experiment with different types of snowshoes. Try a lightweight racing model for winter running or something more playful, like Crescent Moon’s foam model.

The trail also provides a nice walking tour of the area’s cultural and historical attractions, such as the Cozens Ranch Museum. The museum is located at the valley’s first homestead from the 1800s and the new Headwaters Center, a beautifully renovated barn that hosts events and ecological education facilities. The Lift shuttle bus has stops along the way for easy returns to your starting point if necessary. There are also many restaurants and shops within walking distance for breaks.

Read More: Snowshoeing in Negative Temps in Fraser, CO

Jim Creek Trail

Located across Highway 40 from Winter Park Resort, the Jim Creek Trail trail starts from the Discovery Loops trail at the Bonfils Stanton Outdoors Center. The Discovery Loop is a flat, easy nature trail. It offers a pleasant walk through shady pine forests frosted with snow and is wheelchair-accessible.

At the far end of this loop is the trailhead for Jim Creek, a seven-mile (11 km) out-and-back climb up the creek bed. Because it stays shaded by tall pine trees, this area maintains its snowpack well and is popular with snowshoers. The town of Winter Park is a short drive away, with many restaurants and shops for post-hike entertainment. Dogs are allowed on leash.

Read More: The Tao of Winter Park: Snowshoeing for the Soul

Jim Creek trail in winter with mountain in background

The serene terrain along Jim Creek Trail at the base of Berthoud Pass in Grand County. Photo courtesy of All Trails.

Adams Falls

Located a short drive from downtown Grand Lake, Adams Falls is an iconic trek and one of the most popular trails in the area. Although the East Inlet trailhead is the gateway for many miles of trail leading to several lakes and backcountry campsites, Adams Falls is just one mile (1.6 km) from the parking area. The hike features a short, easy climb to a scenic waterfall lookout, which is even more beautiful in the winter when it freezes over.

Moose and deer, fox, and osprey are active in this area year-round. Those wishing for a more strenuous adventure can continue for about seven more miles (11 km) one-way. Depending on the season, snowshoes might not be necessary to reach the falls. Instead, a sturdy pair of winter boots or ice cleats, like Yaktrax, will usually suffice, but snowshoes may be necessary to go much further.

Read More: Footprints in the Field: The Art of Deciphering Nature’s (Wildlife) Clues

North Inlet to Cascade Falls

Another popular year-round trailhead near Grand Lake is the North Inlet. This trail gives access to Cascade Falls, among other liquid landmarks. At 6.5 miles (10.4 km) round-trip, this is a relatively easy hike with just a moderate incline. However, it will take a little extra time with snowshoes and some time at the top.

The first half of the trek is wide, flat, and very beautiful, featuring a slow, winding river and several vast meadows where moose often hang out.  The trail gains a little elevation as it rambles up to the falls, which are made of a collection of several terraced rock formations. Plenty of wide, flat rock areas exist at the falls’ site for taking a break before returning.

Alternatively, you can head from the falls onto the upper lakes, campsites, and towering peaks that extend over the Continental Divide. Most of this trail is contained within Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), so dogs are not allowed, even on leash.

Read More: Snowshoeing Trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Monarch Lake Loop

This lovely four-mile (6.4 km) loop around Monarch Lake features rolling terrain, beautiful lake and mountain views, and lots of birdlife. The trail is primarily flat, with some hilly sections on the lake’s southwest side, where a few wide, sandy beaches give access to the shoreline.

The drive to this trailhead is across the dam on the south side of Lake Granby. It can be pretty bumpy but is equally as scenic as the hike itself. Dogs are allowed on leash. A parking fee is required at the turnoff from Highway 34, as the lake is located within the Arapaho National Forest.

Read More: 7 Beginner Snowshoes for Varied Terrain

Monarch Lake, Grand County, Colorado

View of Monarch Lake from the trail. If the lake freezes in winter, you may catch signs for some icefishers. Otherwise, it’s complete solitude. Photo: Susan Wowk

Tonahutu Creek Trail to Big Meadows

Although the most popular route to Big Meadows is via the Green Mountain Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), the road to access this trailhead is closed in the winter. Luckily, Big Meadows can also be reached via the Tonahutu Creek Trail via the East Inlet trailhead in Grand Lake. Alternatively, you could park at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center near the western entrance to RMNP, which is open with limited hours year-round, and use the connector trail to access the Tonahutu Creek Trail.

It’s 10 miles (16 km) round trip, but most of the trail is flat with gently rolling hills. Along the route, there are several picnic sites and backcountry campsites. Most of these sidle alongside a wide, lazy river. They are great for taking breaks and viewing wildlife like birds, fish, and moose. If you’re craving a secluded overnight adventure, campsites in the winter do not require permits. This trail enters RMNP, so no dogs are allowed.

Read More: Winter Camping Checklist: What To Bring On Your Trip


An abundance of dude and guest ranches are located in Grand County, most of which offer their breathtaking terrain (literally and figuratively) up to snowshoers and Nordic skiers once the snow blankets the ground. Besides having superior scenery, the perk of heading to a guest ranch to go snowshoeing is that they usually have additional services, like a restaurant, bar, or spa.

They also have other winter activities, like fat biking or ice skating, to complete a full day of fun for the whole family, all in one place. Plus, you can also stay overnight and make an entire vacation out of it. Although some ranches are private and only offer trail access to overnight guests, some are open to the public, usually for a small fee.

Here are some of Grand County’s best options for snowshoeing on ranches.

father and daughter snowshoeing at Devil's Thumb Ranch

The Devil’s Thumb Resort is ideal for families looking for a full day of fun winter activities. Photo: Devil’s Thumb Ranch

Devil’s Thumb Ranch

Tucked away in a gorgeous valley in Tabernash, the Nordic center at Devil’s Thumb Ranch has won numerous awards for its superior scenery and 74.5 mi (120 km) of on-site trails, including dedicated snowshoe-only terrain. The activity center also offers guided tours, lessons, and equipment rentals. If you want to try something new, or if there’s not enough snow for snowshoeing, they also rent fat bikes.

The out-and-back Redtail trail is best for beginners. Moosestomp is a bit more challenging and leads uphill to a scenic lookout point. Included with the trail pass is complimentary access to an ice-skating rink. Dogs are allowed on leashes. And don’t miss the great food and drink deals in the bar lounge.

Read More: Winter Retreat at Devil’s Thumb Ranch

Latigo Ranch

Originally founded under the name Snowshoe Ranch in 1923, this sprawling property in Kremmling features 200 miles of un-groomed, backcountry trails covering 40,000 acres of National forestland (used for horseback riding in the summer). Latigo Ranch also has 31 mi (50 km) of groomed trails for Nordic use in the winter–not to mention endless views of the Continental Divide.

Overnight guests of the ranch have complimentary access to the trails, or you can purchase a day pass. The ranch restaurant is open to the public for lunch and dinner. There is a special lunch buffet rate for day pass holders.

Plan your visit to coincide with one of their monthly Dinner Club nights. These feature specialty dishes with wine pairings and can provide an elegant end to your day. The Dinner Club nights require reservations. Equipment rentals are provided at the activity center. No dogs allowed.

Read More: Latigo Ranch: A Snowshoer’s Paradise

YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch

A perennial family favorite, YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch offers an array of activities year-round in addition to snowshoeing. You can make a full, fun day out of your visit!

An on-site Nordic center provides 74.5 mi (120 km) of trails covering 5,200 acres of stunning mountain, meadow, and riverside terrain (including snowshoe-specific trails). The Nordic Center also has a retail shop with equipment rentals and informative guided tours. At the cafe, they serve hot beverages and snack items.

After exploring the snowy trails, try roller skating, archery, arts and crafts, fat biking, or even dog-sledding. Dogs are allowed on leash. Overnight guests receive complimentary access to the trails. Visitors require a day pass for use or multi-day punch cards, and season passes are available for purchase.

Read More: 48 Hours at Snow Mountain Ranch


view from balcony at North Shore Lodge

Beautiful view of the lake and sunset from the balcony at North Shore Lodge. Photo: Susan Wowk


Staying in a lodge offers a quaint, homey feel to your snowshoeing getaway. Slow down the typical day-to-day and come home to a relaxed, friendly accommodation.

North Shore Lodge

Located in Grand Lake, CO, and nestled along Lake Granby’s shore, North Shore Lodge is a cozy home away from home and off the beaten path. After a long day of snowshoeing, you can relax by the fireplace while gazing out your window onto the beautiful shores of the lake. In winter, the serenity of North Shore Lodge is hard to come by in Colorado’s bustling Rockies and is truly a gift for those looking for some relaxation.

You can choose your adventure during the day and snowshoe at one of the many trails near the lodge. Shadow Mountain National Recreation Area is just a 5-minute drive or 20-minute walk from the lodge, or you can explore the East Inlet Trail and Adams Falls (described above), only a 20-minute drive.

Furthermore, snowshoe the Monarch Lake trailhead on the south side of Lake Grandby, only 15 miles (24 km) from the lodge. With so many trails to choose from, you can always talk with the lodge’s friendly owners, Jerry and Lisa, who can share some great trail recommendations.

Call to make your reservation (970-627-8448) and tell them you’re there to snowshoe!

Read More: Colorado Snowshoe Resorts, Ranches, and Cabins

bed at North Shore Lodge, Grand Lake, CO

Comfy bed at North Shore Lodge, perfect after a long day of snowshoeing. Photo: Susan Wowk

Ski Resorts

If you fancy skiing along with snowshoeing, stop by the ski resorts in Grand County. Winter Park Ski Resort and Granby Ranch are two ski resorts with excellent trail options.

Winter Park Ski Resort

One of Grand County’s main attractions is the popular Winter Park Ski Resort, one of Colorado’s oldest resorts. The resort offers a great trail map featuring detailed descriptions of snowshoe-specific trails from the resort base.

Additionally, you can take a tour with a guide. The guides are knowledgeable about the history and ecology of the area and, therefore, are as educational as they are exhilarating. Equipment is available to rent at the tour center before hopping a lift up the mountain.

Read More: Top 10 Snowshoe Tips for First Timers

snowshoers in front of lodge at Winter Park Resort, CO

A guided snowshoe expedition commences at the summit of Winter Park Resort. Photo courtesy of Winter Park Resort.

Granby Ranch Ski Resort

Formerly known as Sol Vista Resort, Granby Ranch has developed into a year-round hub of activity. They have a golf course, restaurant, and extensive trail system for hiking, mountain biking, and skiing. Snowshoers have several great places to hike here, too.

The ski resort base center offers trail maps and snowshoe equipment for rent. From here, you can either trek straight out of the base via the Pirouette trail or purchase a lift ticket and start trekking from the top of the Quick Draw Express on designated snowshoe-only trails. Additionally, the Granby Ranch Golf Course offers groomed trails and is open to the public with the purchase of an access ticket in the winter. After exploring the trails, head to the Granby Ranch Grill for lunch or dinner.

This article was originally published on March 12, 2018. Susan Wowk added North Shore Lodge info on March 12, 2020. The most recent update to the article was on October 19, 2023. 

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About the author

Katie Hearsum

Katie is a lifestyle and travel writer based in Denver, CO. Her career has led her from horseback riding on a dude ranch in the Rocky Mountains to mountain biking in Bolivia to kayaking in Laos and back again. She considers chocolate a food group and has never met a pair of yoga pants she didn’t like.

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  • Granby Ranch does groom at the golf course and access is not free. All Granby Ranch property requires a waiver and purchase of an access pass. They also offer guided hikes every Saturday as well as night hikes during night skiing select Saturdays all Winter long.

    • Thank you for sharing that information, Quinn, and I apologize for the outdated information. I have now updated the post to include the correct information with a link to the access pass. The guided hikes sound like a great offering too and I’m glad to hear that they provide those opportunities for snowshoers! -Susan, Snowshoe Mag Editor

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