Snowshoeing is a great and inexpensive way to get outside during the winter months. Whether you seek trails that are off the beaten track or are looking for family fun between snow-covered trees, there are plenty of snowshoeing options in Cortland County. Here are some tips to help get you started on your great snowshoeing adventure this winter.
Easy to learn. The expression, “If you can walk, you can snowshoe” is a pretty true statement but it will take adjusting your natural walk just a little bit. Try practicing by widening your stance. This is in order to avoid stepping on the snowshoe frames. Also, practice going up and down hills and using poles with your walk. Snowshoeing is versatile. You can go as easy or as hard as you would like depending on the trail you choose. It is a great low impact aerobic workout that will help you stay in shape during the winter.
Choose your snowshoes. Did you know that there are three types of snowshoes? Flat terrain snowshoes are designed for easy walking and is the best kind for families. Rolling terrain snowshoes are best for hiking on rolling to steeper hills and can be suitable for all but be careful for steep or icy conditions. This type is also great for hiking off the beaten path. Then there are mountain terrain snowshoes and, you guessed it, best for ice and very steep terrain. There are also different lengths for snowshoes. Shorter shoes are good for hard packed snow and longer snowshoes are best for a lot of powder.
What to wear. Waterproof boots or hiking boots are best for your feet. You should also wear wool or synthetic waterproof socks. If you really want to keep the snow out of your boots, most people recommend wearing gaiters, especially in deep powder. Wear base layers that are either wool or synthetic as they will keep you warm even if you get wet. Be sure to avoid cotton. A fleece is great as an insulating layer and then be sure to wear a waterproof, breathable shell jacket and pants to keep you dry and protect you from the wind. Hats and gloves are also important as well as wearing sunglasses and sunscreen. The snow makes UV rays more intense!
Trail Etiquette. Trails at Lime Hollow Nature Center and the Nordic Center at Greek Peak Mountain Resort have snowshoers sharing some of the trails with cross-country skiers. Cross-country skiers have the right of way on the trails since it will be much easier for a person on snowshoes to get out of the way than a person using cross-country skis. Snowshoers should also stay off of the skiing tracks.
Hitting the trail. Going uphill in snowshoes you can try to kick-step technique where you pick up your foot and kick into the snow with the toe of your boot to create a step. This is a great technique for powdery conditions. For hard pack snow, you won’t need to kick-step, but you will rely on your traction devices, like your poles. For steeper slopes flip the heel lift feature that if found under the heel on many snowshoes. Going downhill you should keep your poles planted in front of you with your knees bent and keep your body weight slightly back. Walk heel to toe. The steeper the slope, the more you will want to keep your weight back. If you do slip, just sit down.
Have fun! Stay safe on the trails and bring along the family or friends to traverse the trails with you. Use the trail maps to plan out your route and know how long you want to stay outside. Bring a backpack with water and your phone or walkie-talkies to keep in touch.
Where to go
Lime Hollow Center for Environment and Culture
338 McLean Road
Cortland, NY 13045
607 662 4632
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 10am – 5pm
Saturday & Sunday 10am – 4pm
Total snowshoe trail: 2.05 miles
Greek Peak Mountain Resort Nordic Center
2245 Clute Road
Cortland, NY 13045
607 835 6562
Monday to Thursday, trail access only (rental shop and warming hut closed)
Friday, Saturday, Sunday 9am – 5pm (rental shop and warming hut open)