Generations of winter visitors know and love Vermont for its downhill and cross-country skiing, but sliding on waxed planks isn’t for everyone all the time. If you want to explore the snow at a more controlled pace and place your steps with care, snowshoeing in southern Vermont is for you. It’s the perfect low-impact alternative on a day off from the slopes or a first-time winter adventure. There’s no speed limit, though — you can make snowshoeing as heavy or as light of a workout as you like. If you’re not convinced, here are six reasons to try snowshoeing in Vermont.
Snowshoeing started thousands of years ago as a way for explorers and hunters to move across heavy snow more easily, but in just the last couple of decades, hi-tech snowshoes have gotten lighter, easier to strap on and less clunky to maneuver. Couple these modern snowshoes with careful trail grooming and you get a fun and easy winter sport that’s accessible to people of all ages and experience levels.
Easy Learning Curve
The biggest benefit of snowshoeing compared to cross-country skiing is that it’s easy to learn. If you can walk, you can snowshoe, though it can still take a little bit of getting used to. First-timers will quickly figure out how to make their steps smoother and more efficient, saving energy. One major tip is that small strides go a long way — shorter steps help save energy and make pacing easier.
The Gear List is Short
When you ski or snowboard, you need the skis themselves, but you also need poles, boots, goggles, a helmet, and a lift ticket to pull the day off without a hitch. Snowshoeing really only requires the snowshoes (and sometimes poles) — everything else is just normal winter gear. It's more affordable than skiing or snowboarding that way, and it saves time, too.
You Can Go Anywhere
It can take years of alpine skiing practice to feel comfortable straying from groomed trails. Snowshoeing is certainly easier on a groomed track, but as long as you know where you’re going, the real fun comes when you make your own path along an unexplored stream bed or hillside ridge. There’s nothing quite like looking back at your own set of new shoe prints in fresh snow.?
Snowshoeing is Serious Exercise
It's tough to stay in shape when the mercury drops. Running and cycling are out—unless you're on top of the fat bike trend—and while skiing and snowboarding can be great for flexibility and a bit of strength, you have to train and ski pretty hard to get a real workout. You can tailor a Vermont snowshoeing adventure to fit just about any workout schedule, though: break trail up a steep hill to build leg strength, or bring it up to a jogging pace on a pre-packed loop to get in some cardio.
It's Right in Your Backyard
The list of places to snowshoe in southern Vermont is nearly endless, but it starts right outside the door of your southern Vermont rental home. Lace up your boots and strap in, and head over toward the Clubhouse and skating rink. There, you'll find the Birchwood recreation area, with a large piece of land designated for nonmotorized use. The Ridge Trail is one of our favorites. Keep an eye out for on-site demo days and local rental deals, too, from our friends at Zoar Adventure Center right here in Wilmington.
The top photo is by Zoar Adventure Center.