It’s easy to describe snowshoeing as the winter version of hiking, because that’s exactly what it involves. It’s the ultimate ticket to outdoor exploration—anyone can bundle up in warm clothing, strap on a pair of snowshoes and set out on pristine mountain trails to explore everything nature has to offer in the winter.
Salt Lake City resident Lori Lee, who operates SnowShoeUtah.com, says snowshoeing is growing in popularity because it is an activity that is accessible to people of all ages.
“As long as somebody can walk and is in relatively decent shape, you can take them snowshoeing,” says Lee, who also has written a guidebook to snowshoeing trails in Utah. “There’s not a big learning curve on it, so it opens up the sport to most everybody.”
Snowshoe rentals and purchases are inexpensive compared to skis. Rental prices can vary from one location to the next, but the average rental price for a day ranges from $5 to $15. Aside from the snowshoes, the only major requirements are wearing layered clothing to keep warm, bringing enough food and water to last for the duration of the trail and packing avalanche safety gear if you’re heading to the hills.
If you want to check out the untamed beauty of forests and mountain climbs, these five snowshoeing trails offer great paths to reach your destination:
Beginning snowshoers can cut their teeth on the trails in Round Valley, which features 780 acres of open space with terrain conducive to snowshoers of all skill levels. Trails take you on gentle climbs that offer nice views of the surrounding Wasatch Back and various Park City neighborhoods.
You can choose from three main trails—the Old Ranch Road trailhead, the Park City trailhead and the National Ability Center trailhead. Each trail features a mixture of rolling climbs and flat stretches. It offers a fun way to crisscross through Park City and the surrounding area as you work on honing your snowshoeing skills.
780 acres of varying terrain
Big Cottonwood Canyon
Donut Falls is a popular hiking destination in summer or wintertime—the spectacular sight of seeing water cascade through a round hole in a giant rock is worth the hour spent getting there.
The trailhead—located about 10 miles up the canyon—is frequently used, so beginning snowshoers will have little trouble reaching the falls and snapping photos of the cascading water. The major concern is that it can be a dangerous area during high avalanche conditions, so make sure you bring safety gear along.
3.5 miles round trip
420 feet elevation gain
When snowshoeing the Alpine Loop, you’ll experience the wintertime beauty of Mount Timpanogos, Utah County’s most famous mountain—a must-experience destination for all snowshoers. The Alpine Loop starts at the base of Mount Timpanogos and gives your legs a major workout. You’ll be climbing for the first two miles before the terrain levels out somewhat until you reach the summit.
Alpine is one of the few snowshoe trails near Aspen Grove because of high avalanche danger in the area. Be prepared for some major exercise—but don’t worry; the beautiful scenery makes it worth the effort.
7.5 miles up and back
1167 feet elevation gain
Ogden Canyon Overlook
Taking the Ogden Canyon Overlook offers snowshoers the chance to check out stunning, rugged views of Ogden Canyon, Mount Ogden and Sardine Peak. It features long switchbacks that wind up the mountain for the first two miles before cutting across the north face. Spectacular views of the canyon and Snowbasin Resort unfold as you progress up the trail.
It takes about two hours to make the round trip from the Maples picnic area, accessible less than a mile from Snowbasin’s parking lot No. 2. Avalanche danger is low, so snowshoers can plan to take the trek on almost any winter day.
4 miles round trip
800 feet elevation gain
Little Cottonwood Trail
Little Cottonwood Canyon
This trail takes snowshoers past steep granite cliffs as they follow Little Cottonwood Creek. You’ll see literal pieces of history in the granite boulders strewn about in the Temple Quarry area, which is where the LDS Church obtained granite for the exterior of the Salt Lake Temple.
The two-hour round trip makes for an easy trail for parents who want to introduce their children to snowshoeing. They’ll enjoy seeing the occasional wildlife along the trail, which winds up the canyon to a small waterfall and old granite rock ruin.
1,167 feet elevation gain
PHOTO BY HUGO ORTIZ