6 Tips for Snowshoeing Responsibly and Staying Safe on the Trails
Many of us will be dusting off our snowshoes shortly as the fall colours turn to snowy trails.
Before you head out, it’s important to know the do’s and don’ts of snowshoeing to ensure you, other nature enthusiasts, and our natural spaces are kept safe.
We’re breaking down 6 ways to snowshoe responsibly.
Know the terrain
It’s best to familiarize yourself with the area before snowshoeing. While tech can help you in some instances, we suggest bringing a detailed map of the area with you as well.
You should also check weather conditions before heading out. Knowing the temperature, snowfall expectations, and more can help you dress appropriately or know when to reschedule in cases of severe weather.
Lastly, there may be property boundaries and regulations to be aware of. To ensure you’re snowshoeing in designated areas, research the area or ask local authorities or staff on the grounds where you can and cannot snowshoe.
Be mindful of others
Everyone should have an exciting snowshoeing adventure where they connect to nature. To help ensure this is each visitor’s experience, you should stick to designated snowshoe or hiking trails to limit disruptions to other visitors and private property owners. It’s also important to avoid snowshoeing on track set for ski trails.
Many people need to take a break part way through snowshoeing. If this is the case, we suggest finding a place where you’re not blocking the trail so others can continue. If others need to pass you while you’re actively snowshoeing, step off to the side to let them go by without risk to anyone.
Minimize your environmental impact
It’s important to connect with nature in ways that lessen the human impact on the landscape and animals calling it home.
If you see any wildlife, keep your distance. Some animals may change their hunting, migratory, or breeding ranges if there’s too much human interaction in the area. This can cause problems for endangered species in particular, but even animals like squirrels can be disrupted if there’s additional human interaction, like feeding.
If you bring anything, including drinks or food, you should also leave with them to reduce littering.
Dress in layers
Snowshoeing is a physically demanding activity. It’s easy to become overheated and sweat when we’re wearing only a couple bulky layers. If you’re sweating a lot, your clothes will become wet, and you’ll become cold much faster. Dress in layers and start your hike in one layer less than you need if you can handle the temperature. This way, when you’re 10 or 20 minutes into your snowshoe adventure, you’re not overheating already.
Bring a communication device
One of the reasons we connect with the outdoors is to get away from technology and the stresses of everyday life. However, if you get lost or someone in your party gets injured, for example, you may need to make a phone call. Bring your cell phone and a satellite phone, especially for more remote excursions.
Bring safety gear
There are lots of ways to stay safe while snowshoeing. At a minimum, we suggest bringing a first aid kit customized for the number of people in your excursion and their potential needs.
We suggest creating your custom first aid kit and placing it in a backpack alongside extra food, like granola bars and water, as well as extra socks, mittens, hats, and an emergency blanket should someone be injured or need additional warmth. Also consider packing items that can get someone else’s attention, like a whistle, should you need to alert people of where you are.
Did you know you can still get sunburned in the winter? Don’t forget to bring and use sunscreen, lip balm, and some sort of eye protection such as sunglasses or goggles.
Want to snowshoe this winter?
New to snowshoeing, looking to connect with like-minded people, and wanting to learn more about CPAWS-OV? We are planning two guided snowshoe excursions this winter (COVID-19 protocols allowing) at our Executive Director’s farm. One will take place during the day and the other will be an evening snowshoe excursion under the stars. We will provide tips and tricks for safe and sustainable snowshoeing along the way, while sharing fascinating information with you about the plants and animals which call the forest home and how they adapt to our harsh winters. The dates will be announced soon. Watch your email and our social media to find out more and to register.