When the first snow falls, a wonderland of winter sports opportunities opens up. A great way to stay active in the winter is with good old-fashioned snowshoeing, an activity that scorches calories while scoring you some of the best scenic views of the season. Check out these seven must-see snowshoe trails to trek this winter.
Lake Tahoe spans Nevada and California and is famous as a year-round nature playground, but it’s in the snowy season that Tahoe really shines. Strap on your snowshoes, and take on the Blackwood Canyon to Barker Pass Trail, where you’ll stumble upon groves of quaking aspens, a range of animal tracks and a killer view of Lake Tahoe from Barker Pass. You’ll have to earn those stunning views, though — the trek is 14 miles long.
If you’re looking for a serious challenge, head out to Deer Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park. The strenuous three-mile trail has an elevation gain of over 1,000 feet and offers a once-in-a-lifetime view of the Continental Divide. From the summit, you’ll have a bird’s eye perspective of the Rockies, making the climb well worth it. Snow can get up to five feet deep near the summit of the trail, making this climb perfect for those seeking an adventure.
For a true bucket-list experience rather than a day trek, plan a trip to Chimney Pond in Maine. Instead of driving up to a swanky mountain lodge to strap on your snowshoes, you’ll have to reserve a lean-to months in advance (we’re talking June for the following January) before you can take the two-day trek through the glacial bowl to the foot of Mount Katahdin. The destination is well worth the preparation — the backwoods journey through the remote New England wilderness and towering 1,000-foot cliffs offers spectacular views.
CASCADE MOUNTAINS, OREGON
An idyllic winter getaway located near the Cascade Mountains and not far from Bend, Caldera Springs offers an endless supply of cold-weather activities, including a full schedule of snowshoeing excursions. Opt for the Moonlight or Starlight Snowshoe Tour in the shadow of Mount Bachelor for a straight-from-National Geographic view of the open night sky.
If the thought of spending a winter day outdoors makes you feel like you need a drink, the Shoes, Brew and Views Snowshoe Tour has you covered. Set in the Cascade Mountains, this trek will take you deep into the forest to get a peek at Oregon insiders’ favorite peaks — and a few microbrews from Cascade Lakes Brewery.
Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah is known for its bright red rock formations called hoodoos, which are even more striking to take in during the winter. A fairly easy trek along the Rim Trail hiking path (round trip, it’s almost 10 miles, so be sure to block enough time to get back before dark) will score you views of the Bryce Amphitheater, Sunrise Point and Sunset Point. As you may have guessed, the most Instagram-worthy moments happen around sunup and sundown.
COTTONWOOD CANYON, UTAH
One of the biggest perks of snowshoeing is the ability to access some seriously off-the-beaten-path places, like an intimate (only 24 guests allowed) gourmet restaurant housed inside a Mongolian yurt nestled in a forest in the mountains of Utah. Four-course dinner aside, the quiet trail to the clearing is magical and puts the wonder in winter wonderland — think snow crystals, hanging lanterns and total silence save for the sound of your crunching footsteps. At less than a mile, this pick is perfect if you’re bringing the whole family on your snowshoeing adventure.
Well-known for its mountain trails, Vermont’s mountains draw crowds year-round. But if you’re looking for a solitary snowshoeing adventure in the Northeast, look no further than Burnt Rock Mountain in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. The mountain itself is fairly remote, and you’re not likely to run into crowds on the steep five-mile Long Trail. If you reach the summit on a clear day, you’ll be able to score views of neighboring Mount Mansfield and Lake Champlain.
The northern city of Toronto is full of enough snowshoeing trails to keep you busy all winter. Hopping a bus will take you to Copeland Forest, smack in the middle of Ontario’s Snowbelt, where fresh powder is never in short supply. Joining a guided trek means getting outfitted with a pair of Canadian-made snowshoes (naturally, they are the experts) and learning snowshoe maneuvers that will help you navigate the 2.5-hour scenic hike through the quiet and solemn forested trails.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT HIKE