November 23, 2017

My Favorite Places to Snowshoe

Here’s the rub. The best thing about showshoeing is that, as long as there’s snow, you can shoe there.  That being said, I do have some favorite spots. I put on my winter gear, grab my shoes and poles, and here’s where I go.

The first spot, and the most used by me, is out my back door.  There’s a power line a couple hundred feet behind my house, and it’s the power line that’s the real destination. Power lines, in general, are popular with winter sports. Snowmobiles, cross country skiers and we snowshoers are all partial to power lines.  There are choices to shoers. We can make our own trail (my preference), or use already groomed trail. There are generally spots for parking on roads that pass under power lines, and the shoer can travel whatever distance s/he chooses.

If there’s a state or national park anywhere near, consider it a showshoe destination. Showshoeing opens up parts of a park that just aren’t accessible in the summer.  The area is bug free in winter, the snow smooths over rough terrain, and it’s a little tougher to get lost in the woods.  There are some precautions to note.  Although these are good sense no matter where one is showshoeing, they are more so in a protected area: 1) Know where there’s water. Although snowshoes disburse weight nicely, one still doesn’t want to wander onto a half frozen water source. 2) Watch for animal tracks. Know who’s sharing the area with you. 3) If you’re out for any period of time, bring water and a snack. Showshoeing is pretty hard work and you need to stay hydrated and may need ‘fuel’.

Where I live here in Maine, the nearest protected areas that offer great snowshoeing are Bradbury Mountain State Park near Freeport, Sebago Lake State Park in Casco, and the White Mountains National Forest.  There is no shortage of trail in these three spots, and the scenery is worth the effort.

There is a very handy on-line resource for showshoe trails in Maine. Check it out for trails near you.

Those are my favorite near spots. I don’t ski, but that doesn’t mean I want to miss out on being with friends who do. Sugarloaf Mountain Resort, for example, offers a Snowshoe Safari led by Sugarloaf staff, a tour that includes lunch, or (one of my absolute favorite things) a moonlight snowshoe. Sunday River in Bethel, Maine, has showshoeing adventures, as well, and off the subject, but noteworthy, Sunday River also has a zip line to experience. Mt. Abram in Bethel, Maine, offers free access to ungroomed showshoe trails.  There are several ski resorts in the nearby Mt. Washington Valley, too, that offer snowshoe distractions.

If you are in Maine and new to snowshoeing — what shoes are best for what activity, where can I go for a casual or a more serious snowshoe — I recommend a visit to L.L. Bean in Freeport, Maine.  Beside the fun of a pilgrimage to the flagship store, there are knowledgeable staff that can answer your questions, help you find the best shoes for your intent, and even recommend someplace locally (like Wolf’s Neck State Park, maybe) to try out your new shoes.

If you’re in Maine, it’s winter, and you want to get out without a lot of fuss, take up showshoeing. It’s low cost; it’s great exercise; the gear is not cumbersome; and the world is your oyster.

Photo credit: Daily Invention