While warm weather in town was melting snow faster than you could say margarita, the mountains were still covered in snow, and we had come to play in it. “The best thing about snowshoeing is going off trail!” my little one exclaimed from the back seat. “And jumping off logs!” big one added. No sooner were we parked, both girls were out of the car, bouncing up and down, begging us to hurry up and get their kids snowshoes. What’s our secret? We plan ahead, plan to play, and focus on the journey rather than the destination.
Here are 10 ways of preparing for the first snowshoeing trip with family:
- Dress for snow play in layers with water resistant outerwear. Gaiters keep snow out of your boots and mittens keep hands warm better than gloves. Don’t forget sunglasses or goggles for bright, sunny days. Comfortable kids are happy kids!
- Wear warm winter boots that are not too tall, so you can move comfortably.
- Bring extra clothes, socks and mitts in case any items get wet. Hand and toe warmer packets are good on cold days too.
- Choose a short trail with minimal elevation gain. This gives you time to play in the snow, have a snack, or just relax.
- Bring lots of snacks! Snowshoeing burns a lot of calories (yay!), so pack what you’d usually bring on a day hike, then add a few more of your family’s favorite treats. Cookies, crackers and cheese, and dried fruit travel well.
- Warm drinks for the win! Cocoa and marshmallows is the perfect break time pick-me-up.
- Let the kids lead the way! Going at the kids’ pace means no one is rushed.. Except maybe you if your kids are fast. Try to keep up!
- Set boundaries for safety and peace of mind. Some rules we have are: a) stay within sight, b) stop at each trail junction, and c) stay off of lakes, ponds, streams. My 5 year old & 7 year old are able to follow these rules and enjoy the freedom of exploring in the trees near us without us having to nag at them.
- Carry safety gear. Each member of your party should carry a backpack with safety essentials. At the very least, ensure your child has a whistle on her jacket so she may signal for help if she gets lost. (See my Top 10 Pieces of Wilderness Survival Gear for Children here.)
- Embrace the journey. Look at animal tracks, make a snow fort or snow angel, sing songs, jump off logs, bumboggan, and race to the next stump. These are the things your kids will remember more than reaching the end of the trail, and these are the things that will make them want to snowshoe again and again.
By planning ahead and allowing for lots of on-the-trail playtime, you can have the best snowshoe trip ever with your family! Don’t forget your camera so you can capture all the smiles!