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Wisconsin Parent

Snowshoeing with Kids

Nov 30, 2014 02:15PM ● Published by Guest Contributor

As snow sticks to the ground, residents of Wisconsin fall into one of two camps. In the first camp, some Wisconsinites loathe the cold weather and are happy to hibernate until spring. Members of the second camp welcome the snow, they embrace it as if it was an old friend returning for the season. At the sight of the first flakes the snow lovers are already dusting off their sleds, skis and snowmobiles.

Even those who are not fans of the winter season agree that hibernation is not a realistic option, especially with children in the household. Despite the cold temperatures kids still have the need to be active and enjoy the outdoors. One alternative to spending the day cooped up indoors is to try an easy, yet enjoyable, outdoor winter activity.

Snowshoeing is a simple, outdoor activity accessible for almost all fitness levels. Basic snowshoeing does not required a lot of skill beyond walking, so it is a great winter sport for beginners and children.

Snowshoes

When families first start out with snowshoeing it is important to decide if you want to purchase or rent snowshoes. If you purchase your own equipment, snowshoes typically range from $40 to $300 depending on the brand.

Rentals are a more inexpensive way for people who are just starting out with snowshoeing and want to discover if it is the right activity for their family. Rentals can be found at nature centers and stores that sell outdoor gear. Some locations also offer informational sessions for beginners. Snowshoe enthusiasts may like to use poles, but it is not always necessary depending on the terrain and length of walk.

What To Wear

It is important to dress properly for any outdoor activity in the snow, and snowshoeing is no different. Warm boots and cozy socks are important to keep your feet warm. Snowshoes typically strap around regular boots, so the boots you wear to shovel or go sledding work just as well for this activity.

SnowshoesWhen snowshoeing, the number of layers you put on is important to consider. A layer of long underwear under pants is fine, but snowpants also work depending on the outdoor temperature. Don’t forget to add a warm jacket, hat, gloves or mittens, and a scarf. It is preferable to remove layers rather than getting too cold along the way.

Another important part of your gear is to remember for the whole family to wear sunscreen and wear sunglasses. Even though it is winter, the sun reflects back on the snow causing damage to skin and eyes.

Starting Out

Snowshoeing can be quickly learned and kids are often enthusiastic to head right out on the trail. When first starting out plan ahead the length of walk and be aware of the distance your family can realistically handle. Remember that any distance you walk, you also need to walk back too. A flat surface is perfect for beginners who can gradually work up to trying out hills. A neighborhood park, a local hiking trail or dedicated snowshoeing trails are a great place to start.

The basics of snowshoeing are to take wider and longer strides than your typical way of walking. Snowshoes are designed to not work in the reverse, so plan to turn around completely if you need to go back along the way.

A light backpack full of snacks and beverages is especially important when you are out with children. Since this is a new activity everyone might need a brief break before continuing out on the walk again.

The most important aspect of snowshoeing is to enjoy the time spent outdoors with your family. This activity will create winter memories far more valuable than hours spent inside playing video games can offer.

Monster SnowshoerBe sure to end an afternoon of family time spent outdoors with a cup of hot chocolate. Don’t forget the marshmallows!

FamStephanie Beirne Leuer spends her days balancing life as a mom to two, a marketing coordinator, social media manager, and a professional seeker of lost LEGO pieces. She is a Wisconsin native who enjoys sharing all of her favorite places in the state with her own kids.

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