By: Karen Ung, Yukon Charlie’s Trailblazer & Author of Play Outside Guide
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!
Fav. tip is snacks! Always lots of snacks. And we bring candy for the “candy trees.” Every tree with an orange snowshoe marker is a candy tree. Chester Lake has lots of candy trees.
Karen Ung says
I love the candy tree idea, Tanya!!
Number 10 for sure! <3
Karen Ung says
Embracing the journey is key to a great day!! 🙂 I won’t forget the 5 or 6 hour day we had at Johnston Canyon! LOL!! Longest hike ever but the kids had so much fun sliding in the snow.
caryn s says
I love the tip of carrying safety gear! I Love having fun as long as we are safe!
Definitely choose a trail that has low elevation gain! This gets them hooked and then you can slowly add elevation as they get older and more interested. This works for husbands as well.
Kate Spiller says
Great post, Karen! My favorite tip from the bunch is the dress for snow play! It’s so important (especially for my youngest) to have the appropriate gear so that kids stay comfortable!
Jim Lipscomb says
Layers and sunglasses are great tips, but hot cocoa is the best!
Jillian Smith says
Let kids (or other people) lead the way, it’s sometimes the only way I slow down and fully take it all in
Carry Safety gear is very important!
Chrisine Tupper says
Choose a short trail with minimal elevation gain. – you can always add distance later as it is best not to overdo it with little ones in tow.
These are great tips! For me, the most important is to dress for snow play. I get cold easily and nothing is enjoyable when that happens!
Bring a sled and a warm drink to give kiddies a place to rest and a way to warm up
Can you recommend what are the boots you wear for a sub zero temperature? Let say up to -15 Degree Celsius?
Karen Ung says
Hi Chris, I like snowshoeing in lightweight midheight, waterproof hiking boot with wool socks (I own and wear KEEN Durand, Vasque Breeze, Salomon Elios). I know some people hike in insulated winter boots or unstructured boots like Sorels, but find those kinds can cause chafing and blisters if you are doing a long trip and/or trip with elevation gain (check avalanche reports if you are traveling in the mountains). Bring extra socks and toe warmer packets for breaks! For backcountry trips, we bring down hut booties to keep our feet warm when we’re not hiking/snowshoeing/skiing. Hope that helps!
Karen Ung says
This said, if we’re doing a short trip with the kids (and not moving fast because we’re playing in the snow a lot), I wear my insulated Salomon Nytros. I believe they have been discontinued, but they are super warm!!!