Spoiler: It’s still winter in New England. Despite the calendar days whipping by, the temps are low and we have been consistently getting snow.
So what’s a girl to do? Head north of the city and enjoy the snow of course! On a recent vacation with friends in Vermont, I decided to give snowshoeing a try! Despite all my winters in New England, this was something I hadn’t had the chance to do before!
So today, I am sharing all the details with you so you can be prepared for your next snowshoeing adventure.
We stayed in Vermont at the Trapp Family Lodge. The lodge is located in the town of Stowe, which is about a 3 and 1/2 hour drive from Boston (sometimes longer depending on traffic). Stowe is a beautiful town with lots of shops, breweries, and restaurants.
The area offers access to several ski resorts as well as a multitude of outdoor activities. The Trapp Lodge offers access to snowshoeing and cross country skiing on property.
Snowshoeing is an activity that you can do anywhere, anytime. You just need snow on the ground. We went out on a Sunday morning after a light breakfast.
What to wear:
As someone who hates to be ‘inappropriately dressed’ I had no idea what proper snow trekking gear was. So I packed all the things I could think of! I’d rather be over prepared.
Our friends told us to dress in layers and prepare to experience a range of temperatures. We would likely be freezing cold at the beginning, then sweating and shedding layers from about mid mountain all the way to the top. Then after stopping in the cabin at the top to refuel, we would likely be cold again until we got underway again.
If you are snowshoeing in your back yard, there likely aren’t marked trails and you can go wherever you wish. Since we were in a known snowshoeing area, there were several trails to choose from depending on destination, duration of hike and level of skill required.
We chose a trail that would take us to a cabin at the top of the mountain.
The trek was just under 2 hours each direction.
Outfit Details + What I wore:
Starting with my head, and working my way down: I wore a warm headband to cover my ears and a neck buff.
I wore a sports bra and long sleeve sweat wicking top (my choice was a cold gear top I often use for skiing). Then I added a light down vest topped with a ski jacket and mittens.
On the bottom, I wore a base layer as my one and only (outer) layer. My shirt and vest were long enough to cover my bum, without restricting movement, and I didn’t want to add another layer and risk overheating on the way up the mountain. Plus I figured it would be much more difficult to remove layers on the bottom, and try to take off the snow shoes, than removing a layer from above.
On my feet, I wore wool socks and my snow boots. I wasn’t really sure of which footwear would be best, so I went with a (mostly) waterproof boot, which was both a good and a bad choice (more about that later).
We rented snowshoes at the activity center in the lodge. They were your basic, standard issue, one size fits all snowshoe. (There are lots of options available and you can totally get much fancier snowshoes that come in different sizes and lengths, etc as well as different types of fasteners to secure your ‘shoe’. if you decide its something you like and want to do often, I would recommend purchasing your own equipment).
Fancy snowshoes or not, they all work pretty much the same way. You slide your boot in the shoe and tighten/latch the straps so they are snug on your feet, and thats it! You are good to go.
As a tip you may want to double knot your boot shoe laces before putting on the snowshoe, that way they don’t inadvertently come untied as you are trekking about. (Which happened to me a couple of times).
You will likely be given the option of snowshoeing with poles. As a newbie, I opted to use the poles to assist with stability. They were recommended because they are helpful if you are ascending to a steep area. The same goes for the trek on the way down the mountain, it’s nice to have some extended ‘stability’ to keep you moving, but not out of control.
If you are a skiier you can also just bring your ski poles and use those, which is what we did. I ended up carrying them half the time, and truly only used them when I was heading up or down a steep area.
We brought a backpack with some extra layers inside as well as water bottles and trail mix in case we needed a snack or got sidetracked before we reached the cabin.
What it’s like:
I have to say that overall, snowshoeing was a really fun experience. Walking around in the ‘shoes’ took a little getting used to. In the beginning, I felt like I was kind of stomping around and walking very ungracefully, but that settled out and I found a more ladylike stride once we started on the trail.
We stayed on a marked trail for most of the adventure. The snow in those areas was fairly packed down (from previous people on the trail) so the snow sounded more ‘crunchy’ when we were walking and I was kind of surprised by how loud it was.
I was hoping to see some kind of wildlife but wasn’t sure if the animals would be scared away by our group and the loud trekking.
We did venture into some off-path areas where the snow was much softer (and thus much quieter) as we were walking. We also made sure to make some stops along the way to take pictures and enjoy the scenery.
It was nice to appreciate natures beauty. The woods and trees are so beautiful when blanketed in snow. It is very still and quiet (when you aren’t walking) and I can imagine in the early morning or later evening hours you would be able to see even more wildlife.
We got to see the taps for the maple trees and the elaborate tubing and line system to bring the sap into the sugar house for processing. (We didn’t get to go into the sugar house, as they were closed that day, but it is highly recommended and I will definitely check it out next time we are there).
We got to the cabin at the top in just under two hours and as advertised, I was definitely sweaty! A lot of the trail was uphill and I counted it as a true workout!
The cabin is the perfect reward for all that hard work getting there. It is and perfectly hidden on the mountainside. I believe it’s only accessible by those with snowshoes or cross country skis.
Inside they have beverages, soups, sandwiches as well as cookies and brownies for purchase plus a roaring fire place.
Once we were sufficiently hydrated, refueled, and toasty, we make the trek back down the mountain. We decided to take an alternate route home, which was a little steeper and only a little more direct, but it was nice to have multiple options and trails to chose from.
Overall, I truly enjoyed snowshoeing. I will absolutely do it the next time I have a chance.
I did end up with a pretty sizable blister on the back of my heel, and I think that was both a combination of my footwear choice as well as the straps that held the snowshoe in place. The straps also dug into my boots in a few spots and cut into the leather which was a bummer, but easily remedied with a different shoe choice for my next adventure.
I briefly entertained the idea of wearing sneakers/tennis shoes as an option, but since they had much more ventilation (i.e. mesh) and were not waterproof, I decided against the idea because I didn’t want wet/soggy feet on the trip.
I think next time, I will chose a more walking-friendly boot or waterproof shoe to try and avoid the blister situation.
My outfit choice was great. I wouldn’t really make any changes there. My layers kept me warm but mobile and I was able to shed them appropriately without a lot of fuss.
My final thought is that while snowshoeing can be peaceful and almost meditative, it is also really fun to go with a group.
Have you tried snowshoeing before? What are some of your favorite places to go? Any tips for other first timer’s? Feel free to share below!