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Snowshoeing in Estes Park: What You Need to Know

Did you know that one hour of snowshoeing can burn 600 calories? This means that not only are you exploring the quiet and beautiful backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park in a setting few have seen, but you are also getting a great low-impact, aerobic workout while you do it. Whether you’re a seasoned shoer or new to the game, it’s one of many Estes Park winter activities worth including in your plans.

How to Snowshoe: It’s Easy.

Even if you don’t have your own gear, you can easily rent everything you need at one of the local shops. And despite the strange gear requirements, snowshoeing is actually way easier than you might think. Never done it before? Follow these snowshoeing tips to get off on the right foot:

  • Strap the snowshoes on and walk normally. Don’t force your feet forward. (Bindings hold the front of the boot, permitting a natural stride. Metal cleats on the bottom of the snowshoe provide traction when going up or down slopes.)
  • Don’t step on one snowshoe with the other.
  • Use one or two ski poles to help maintain balance and reduce wear and tear on your knees.
  • Layering is the key for snowshoeing. You will need to take off and put on garments, as required, to keep a balanced body temperature. Because snowshoeing is a vigorous workout it is smart to dress in layers. Twenty minutes on the trail will often find people stripping off layers of clothes as they heat up.
  • Make sure to wear waterproof boots to keep your feet warm and dry.
  • A big no-no: If you are “shoeing,” don’t step onto cross-country ski tracks. Putting snowshoe tracks over ski tracks creates holes, making the surface hazardous for skiers.

Still not sure if snowshoeing is your cup of tea? Take a hint from the Guest Guide team: Never try, never know!

Where to Snowshoe in Estes Park

A popular snowshoeing trail is a two-mile loop above Sprague Lake through a thick forest of lodge pole pine. The trail begins at the picnic ground next to the parking lot and heads west through the trees when it turns south. Follow the signs. The loop is above the lake to the south along the moraine. Afterwards, Sprague Lake is a perfect spot to rest, drink hot tea and gaze at snow-covered Hallet Peak and Flattop Mountain.

Another snowshoeing adventure is The Loch, a two mile one-way trip from Bear Lake with 925 feet of elevation gain. Past the intersection of the Bear Lake and Glacier Gorge Trails (0.4 miles from Bear Lake, 0.2 miles from the Glacier Gorge parking lot), hike through the Aspen trees to a bridge. A couple hundred feet past the bridge near a giant flat rock turn right onto the fire trail that turns into snowshoeing trail in the winter. The winter trail goes up a canyon, around large boulders, and through a forest to the trail split for Mills Lake and The Loch. Turn left as if you were going to Mills Lake. About 0.2 mile from the trail split you’ll come to another bridge. Continue straight ahead up the stream’s path for The Loch.

Need more information on snowshoeing or where to rent your winter gear in Estes Park? Pick up our free guide around town.

Tags: What to Do