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Snowshoeing: Where to Start?

I am about 90% sure I am getting my first pair of snowshoes for Xmas this year. I have always wanted to get into this but need some advice on a few things. Besides the actual snowshoes, what kind of actual shoe is best to wear? Is snowshoeing something that needs to be practiced or is it pretty much walking in the snow? I live very close to Hartley Nature Center so that will be the main trail but where are some other good places to go in town? Any advice would be appreciated.

28 Comments

edgeways

about 3 years ago

1 - wear decent boots 2 - tends to be a little trickier than just walking on the snow, but not by much and depends on what kind of snowshoe you get, don't really need to practice, but he more you do it the better you will get 3 - HNC is a great place, but the trails do get packed down pretty quick so you'll actually won't really need the snowshoes all that much there except perhaps right after a heavy snow, or if you go off on some of the more secluded trails. Oh and you'll need snow, something which we seem to be lacking so far this year wtf.

Paul Lundgren

about 3 years ago

Yeah, what Edgeways wrote. Wear good winter boots. You don't need to practice; it's like walking only louder and a bit clumsier. My favorite snowshoeing is on snow-covered frozen creeks and rivers. Any natural area you wouldn't hike in the summer is where I recommend you snowshoe in the winter.

Cory Fechner

about 3 years ago

Read this from a similar question on PDD last winter. http://www.perfectduluthday.com/2011/01/12/advice-re-snowshoes/

JfromTF

about 3 years ago

My best advice about shoes to wear is in line with what others have already said: Winter Boots. There are many to choose from, but the best ones aren't your Sorels. Many "winter" boots are made by the likes of Keen, The North Face, Salomon and Merrel--and will be insulated, give good traction, and be equipped with a wonderful little notch or bar on the heel to keep the rear binding strap in place. Good ones to be had for a little $$, and you'll be thankful for the Thinsulate and waterproofness when the snow actually arrives and you're forced to navigate sloppy sidewalks and streets in Duluth. Practice is a relative term. Just don't go running in them expecting to have it go without a trip-and-fall. Just have fun, but don't worry much about it. You'll notice what it takes to walk in them the moment you're strapped in. Any place NOT in town is a good option for snowshoes. I'd look for undeveloped park areas like up near Hawk Ridge or something really hidden like Janet Pollay Park. Pray for snow. That's the last part. Snowshoes need it.

Conrad

about 3 years ago

Hartley Nature Center will have its trails padded down like said but there is a lot of spots out there to find fresh snow. No real practice needed but know that things change from when snow is new and from when snow is icy. Also, know that it is more work then just walking, especially if the snow is deep so plan for a shorter trip your fist time out

ChrisinStupidMaine

about 3 years ago

You may also consider picking up some trekking poles with snow baskets. They'll generally help with balance, and are a particular boon in hilly or icy conditions. Cheers!

zra

about 3 years ago

I'll go one too and say the lighter the better in the way of actual boot weight. I've been out for hours in shoes wearing both Stegers and Sorels (or any other such pac boot), and can tell you that Stegers (the lighter option) will leave you much less tired and sore after a day out in the woods. Busting trail @ HNC is a joy unbounded...and if you're in for a day trip (and if the lakes are frozen) a trip up to Ely and the Hegman lakes is probably one of the single coolest experiences I've had to date. The petroglyphs on North Hegman are impressive, but even more so when you're not constrained by canoe and water.

zra

about 3 years ago

...and keep off the groomed XC ski trails. they cut through HNC and other spots around town. XCers get a little riled up when they have to traverse through snowshoe tracks. Snowstorm bar crawls are also made much easier on a pair of snowshoes, particularly if you live on or near the Chester/Lakewalk corridor.

Claire

about 3 years ago

I loved walking around Park Point, on the beach and in the forest (near the end) wearing my snowshoes last winter.

emmadogs

about 3 years ago

Zra's right--when you've had enough practice, head up to Hegman Lake. Those petroglyphs are amazing, and it's a beautiful snowshoe trek to them.

Shane

about 3 years ago

If you keep moving, you can get away with fairly light shoes. I have been using goretex/water resistant running shoes when going snow shoeing the past couple of years. I used to use heavier boots, but lighter is more manuverable.

Amy

about 3 years ago

Wait for deep snow and then use them for what they are really designed for - staying on top of the snow without falling through. Great exercise!

Craig Gustafson

about 3 years ago

I've found that waterproof hiking boots work better than actual snow boots, which really aren't designed for distance walking and can feel heavy over time. I also wear long socks and pull them over my pant legs to keep the snow out. Edgeways and others are right, the more popular trails in town get pretty packed down, rendering snowshoes unnecessary. If you're looking for a good long walk with some nice scenery, consider the municipal golf courses, which are untraveled, easily navigable in snowshoes and, because the leaves are off the tries, offer nice views right down to the lake.

Jerome

about 3 years ago

Wait, are we expecting snow this year? Sure would be weird if it didn't happen (and tragic for the flora and fauna!). I guess I've seen years with this little snow in mid December... I'll go polish the shovel and start stretching.

John

about 3 years ago

I'd recommend gore tex gaiters and hiking boots with some smartwool socks. Keep your feet warm and dry and not sweaty.

Frank Nichols

about 3 years ago

Just a word of caution. I like shoeing on rivers but if you haven't done it, go with somebody who knows.

Iron Oregon

about 3 years ago

One thing to consider about footwear choice is that on some snowshoes, a sorel-type boot might be too big for a good fit. This is the case with my Tubbs snowshoes when I use Sorels. I agree with the gaiters and hiking boots idea.

Cory Fechner

about 3 years ago

Amy +1... The deeper the better. Snowshoeing for me is best during / after fresh snow.. The light and fluffy snow is the best. It makes for quiet shoeing and even buffers the sound in the woods making it so peaceful. I like exploring places you can't go in the summer. Typically the forest opens up in the winter, less cover and the snow covers all the under brush and branches that can make for tough walking in the summer. Just bring a compass, fluids and a lighter (or better yet Flint and Steel) if you are busting your own trails into the woods. Pretty easy to get turned around and you never know when that winter storm might roll in and cover your tracks (way out) up. Cory Fechner

DaVe

about 3 years ago

I also agree with wearing gators. I use just one xc ski pole like a walking stick. It helps me a lot. What I really like is that all the wetlands you can't get into in the summer are accessible on snowshoes in the winter. You can go anywhere. I have old-style wooden shoes with those stretchy rubber bindings, which are super handy. I also have small, modern shoes for hills and whatnot. I can't wait!

zra

about 3 years ago

Gaiters are a good thing, especially if you're wearing Stegers or any other boot with laces. They'll keep them from bunching up with ice and snow and easier to take off when you get back to the car. Also, the traditional Stegers aren't waterproof (another reason why I don't put them on til it's below 0 out) so the powder will eventually melt and soak your moosehide. +1 to Cory's gear info ... plus a headlight and some energy food. (You have the same shoes I do, Cory!) Pretty much any large expanse of powder is good for at least getting some practice in. I'm known for busting trail from the 9th st bridge @ Chester to the Lakewalk during and after snowstorms (mostly to check up on the shop...) and to write my name in the snow @ the Bowl down by the lake ... on my way to the Public House for a pint or two with the rest of the nuts who choose to venture forth in blizzards. They're the best way to foot commute after snowstorms before the plows have come through to do their job. I live 10 blocks straight up the hill from work and have done the shoe thing many times and struck out after work to check out the scene around town, often dropping through Leif Ericson (see: name writing) and through the Lakewalk, then circling back up onto superior and finding my way into Carmody before heading back up the hill and home. After the main corridors are good and packed down, it's best to don a set of yak trax, as I believe somebody has already mentioned, trails quickly get packed down with traffic.

Claire

about 3 years ago

OK, then all we need is snow.

nbayuk

about 3 years ago

Thanks for all of the input, especially the safety tips as we sometimes forget the dangers of being alone in the woods during the winter. So if we ever get snow, anyone up for some snowshoeing?

zra

about 3 years ago

You bet!

Jerome

about 3 years ago

Goretex: just in case you didn't have enough PTFE and other flouropolymers in your blood already.

Ruthie

about 3 years ago

Dress in layers, even in very cold temps I end up taking off my mitts and hat (if not windy). The Lake Superior hiking trails are good places to go but tell someone where you are going before you go. I use poles regularly and they are very helpful going up and down hills.

samh

about 3 years ago

Snowshoeing is easy and is a healthy way to experience the great outdoors in winter. Have fun with it! I wear trail running shoes with a tall gaiter over nylon pants. I use two ski poles for balance and cadence.

Iron Oregon

about 3 years ago

Snowshoeing: Where to Start? 1. Find snow

Claire

about 3 years ago

It's going to be a Charlie Brown Christmas all right. Was just down in the Cities, it was 40 degrees there yesterday!

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