Quiet, snow covered trails. The soft crunch of the snow beneath your clunky snowshoes as you settle into a steady rhythm of plodding up the trail. The brisk, fresh air nipping at your cheeks and ears as you get your heart rate up.
Many folks stop outdoor adventuring in the winter months, but those of us who know and love the scenery, sounds, and smells of a winter trail know that the best is just getting started. In many places out West, January through March are the months that see the heaviest snowfall, meaning the time is ripe to get out there and enjoy your favorite places as they are blanketed by white.
There are an amazing amount of snowy trails out west, and with the low cost to rent or buy snowshoes (prices start at about $60 at retailers like REI), it’s a great way to get out and get moving.
Winter hiking is slightly more dangerous for several reasons: hypothermic conditions, risk of dehydration because people are less likely to drink water in the cold, etc. The most significant consideration, however, is avalanche danger. Snowshoeing is best done in moderate terrain--stay away from the steeps if possible, and if you do explore areas that might slide, be sure you do your research ahead of time. Here are a few basics all trip leaders should consider before venturing outside of a set trail area.
See below for a list of our 22 favorite destinations for tromping through the woods and seeing something new.