We packed up our snowshoe equipment along with our energetic Labrador, and drove off from our cabin on St. Froid Lake to enjoy the free community trails at the 10th Mountain Ski Club in Fort Kent, Maine. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other ideas and the previous day’s snowfall was still clogging the roads. As it turned out, our choice of activity saved the day. We returned home and walked with our gear to a nearby deserted logging road, which provided a no-cost afternoon of pet-friendly family fun. Snowshoeing provides flexible access to a variety of winter wonderlands around the world, making it a fabulous option to include on your list of family-friendly winter activities.
Savings: Because the sport doesn’t actually require a mountain, dishing out extra dough for the lift tickets typically required for a ski vacation is up to you. Depending on the style of snowshoe you purchase, it’s also possible to store your gear in the trunk of a small car, making the purchase of a roof rack or car carrier unnecessary. Moreover, after you’ve purchased your snowshoes and poles, you can pretty much get by with the regular winter clothing you already have. This is a huge money saver when it comes to exploring a new sport!
Simplicity: Vancouver marketing executive Rich Patterson enjoys complimentary access to his favorite trail at Mount Seymour Provincial Park. The best part, according to Patterson, is enjoying pristine snow trails less than 30 minutes after leaving his office. Since the trail head is at the edge of the parking lot, there are no lift lines to contend with. Patterson simply straps on his shoes and steps right into nature. Similarly, residents of Montreal can have an enjoyable snowshoe experience without ever leaving home. The city’s 200-hectare Mount Royal Park offers $15 – $20 tours by reservation, which include equipment and hot chocolate.
Scenery: At the Durango Mountain Resort in Colorado, $35 will get you a two-hour guided hike – complete with equipment and round-trip lift ride – in the San Juan National Forest to an area you’d never be able to see otherwise. Another unique snowshoeing option is the historic carriage trails of Acadia National Park. A gift from philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr., the 45 – mile circuit includes scenic vistas and up-close nature encounters. Internationally-minded travelers can experience scenic snowshoe tours as well. Exploreworldwide.com for example, offers affordable snowshoeing packages to Lebanon’s Shouf Cedar Reserve, Spain’s Picos de Europa National Park and the Rila Mountains of Bulgaria. In addition to the natural scenery on the Bulgaria tour, travelers also get to experience the world-famous Rila Monastery, a UNESCO world heritage site. Those in the D.C. area have Shenandoah National Park at their disposal as well.
Photo Credit: Mt. Hood Territory