Snowshoes open door to winter's beauty


Pete Kopischke has a saying: "If you can walk, you can snowshoe."

And there are few better ways to see the winter beauty of Northwest Colorado than atop a mountain covered in snow.

"On snowshoes you can see a lot more," said Kopischke, a Ski Haus employee. "It's a chance to get away and do something different. It's really wonderful getting out there."

Whether it's a walk at Steamboat Lake State Park or a run on Rabbit Ears Pass, snowshoeing is an activity for all ages and fitness levels. Many snowshoers, particularly those unfamiliar with the backcountry and the area, prefer to stay near well-marked and groomed trails. Snowshoers are reminded to stay to the sides of groomed Nordic trails used for cross-country skiing.

"It's the kind of thing you can almost go anywhere to do," Kopischke said.

Locals and tourists can take advantage of a number of trails in the far corners of Routt, Moffat, Grand, Jackson and Rio Blanco counties, although people are asked to be mindful and respectful of the deer and elk that spend winter in the backcountry of Northwest Colorado.

Popular places to snowshoe are on Emerald Mountain, which overlooks downtown Steamboat Springs; North Routt's beautiful Steamboat Lake State Park; Rabbit Ears Pass, a haven for winter sport enthusiasts; and Steamboat Ski Area, which offers toured snowshoe hikes.

All that's required to snowshoe are a pair of semi-waterproof hiking boots, warm socks, winter clothing - similar to what one would wear skiing - and a pair of snowshoes. It also might be wise to bring a camera.

The most difficult part of snowshoeing for most people, Kopischke said, is putting snowshoes on. After that, it's walking on water - frozen water.

"It's real simple," Kopischke said. "Whether you are an athlete or someone who wants to get out a little bit, walking on the groomed path is wonderful."

Snowshoes are available to buy and rent from almost every outdoor sporting goods store in Steamboat Springs.


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