It’s time to embrace the winter and put on your snowshoes.

As the saying goes, if you can hike, you can snowshoe — and enjoy all your favorite trails throughout the winter. There is nothing more magical than striding out after a fresh snowfall. You’ll relish the peace while burning calories at a rapid rate. It’s a really great cardio workout, and good for body and soul.

If you’re a novice, you can rent snowshoes from a local outfitters or borrow a friend’s pair to give it a try. Chances are, you’ll be hooked and can buy your very own quite reasonably from around $100 to $300.

Wear your normal hiking boots, dress in layers and pack a thermos of hot tea if you’re going out for a while. Poles are optional in snowshoeing, just as they are in hiking. Snowshoes grip the snow with crampons at the toes and heel, so you can feel secure on slippery slopes. You can cover the same distances as you would with a hike, but when you’re breaking trail on fresh snow, allow for extra time and effort.

As for where to go, you can simply head for your normal hiking haunts. In Santa Fe, the Norski Track just below the ski basin is designed for cross-country skiers, but people do snowshoe beside the ski trail (snowshoers are not always appreciated by skiers as they tend to obliterate nicely groomed ski tracks).



The most popular trail is Aspen Vista, and if you’re ambitious, it’s a 6-mile trek up to Tesuque Peak. Other hiking trails — which are frankly much more suitable for snowshoes rather than skis — are the Chamisa Trail or the Winsor Trail to La Vega, Nambé Lake or Ravens Ridge.

Another good starting point is Big Tesuque — either up to Aspen Vista, or for a two-car option you can start just above Big Tesuque on U.S. Forest Service Road 102 and snowshoe to the trailhead on Pacheco Canyon Road about 7 miles downhill.

If you prefer “groomed trails,” there are plenty of these in our fair state, many near Santa Fe. These areas sometimes allow snowshoers alongside the ski tracks and sometimes have separate trails specifically for snowshoes. Just as hikers and mountain bikers are expected to share the trails, so it is for cross-country skiers and snowshoers.

Anna Hargreaves is a member of the Trails Alliance of Santa Fe.

(1) comment

Catalina

Thanks for showing a photo of people using snowshoes on the SIDE of the ski tracks. The skiers who groom and maintain those skinny, smooth lines really appreciate it when the snowshoe people use their own separate side trail. There is plenty of room for us all to share nicely ! Remember too, no dogs on Norski. They are welcome on nearby Aspen Vista or Pacheco Canyon Road- near Big Tesuque Picnic Area. Enjoy.

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