Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024
A beginner's guide to snowshoeing.

This winter, outdoor activities are a great option to keep you happy and healthy. It’s the perfect time to try something new, like snowshoeing!

For any winter activity, planning ahead and a little research can go a long way to ensuring your day is safe and fun.

So what does a beginner snowshoe need to know?

Safety in the snow

Snowshoeing is like any other winter sport: it requires some advance planning.

Woman and child with snowshoes look at trail map

It gets dark earlier in the winter, so give yourself plenty of time to complete your route during daylight hours.

Be sure to check the hourly weather forecast before you head out and adjust accordingly. It’s a great idea to bring an extra pair of socks and gloves in case you get cold or wet.

And don’t forget to bring some water: hydration is key even when it’s cold!

If the (snow) shoe fits!

Snowshoes fit over winter boots and distribute weight over a larger area, making it easier for you to walk on the snow without sinking.

Snowshoes come in different sizes. The best one for you will depend on the type of snow you walk on.

Smaller snowshoes are good for thick snow, while larger ones are better for powder snow.

Snowshoes, boots and poles in the snow.

The size of snowshoe you need may also depend on your weight, including your coat, accessories, and backpack.

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A small snowshoe will give you more agility, while a larger one will allow you to explore uncharted territories. If you need speed, choose a smaller snowshoe. If you want a quiet ride, make it bigger.

The best boots?

Snowshoe straps will hug your feet, so a sturdier winter hiking boot (not too soft) works best. Choose a warm boot with good water resistance.

If you are purchasing new snowshoes, it is a good idea to take the boots with you to try them on together.

Dress for success

Lots of layers will help you adapt to the temperature and your effort level.


A merino wool base layer is a great start and helps with breathability. Choose your midlayer based on the temperature. You can then add waterproof pants and a protective upper body jacket.

Choose your way

For beginners, choose a shorter, level trail.

While you can cover the same trail while walking, snowshoeing uses different muscles and can be more physically demanding.

The length of the trail you choose will also depend on your fitness level and the amount of time you want to spend outdoors.

I’m not sure? Choose a shorter route. If you go through it, you can always do a second loop!

If at first you don’t get it…

It may take a little time to get used to snowshoeing. You may fall. And that’s okay! It’s all part of learning.

Getting back on your feet is not difficult. Shift your weight to one side and stand up using your hands and knees.

Snowshoers in snowy forest using poles to help

Worried about balance or traction? Bring some walking poles with you to help with stability.

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Ready to give snowshoes a spin?

Find a park near you and visit our Healthy Parks Healthy People webpage to learn more about the health benefits of getting outdoors.

What are you waiting for? Embark on a snowshoeing adventure and feel the benefits of spending time in nature!