Fine Lifestyles
Snowshoeing for All Ages By Patti London Snowshoeing is a great way to enjoy the snow we are so lucky to have dumped on our region, some winters more than others. It’s easy to learn, inexpensive and burns about 600 calories an hour, on average. It’s an up-and-coming sport which appeals to a wide range of fitness levels. Recreational hiking snowshoes are perfect for beginners. These snowshoes work best on terrain without steep climbs or descents. More active snowshoers who want to cross-train with running or other sports, may prefer aerobic/fitness snowshoes. This is a tougher snowshoe with a sleeker design. Finally, if you’re more experienced and like the powder, the hiking/backpacking snowshoes are for you. These are very durable with an aluminum frame, material for flotation, and bindings that support all types of boots. Snowshoes will cost between $100 and $300 - unless you must have the Crescent Moon Composite Kilo Run snowshoes for $398.95. When looking for the right size, the length will depend on how much you weigh. The most common sizes for adults are 25 inches, 30 inches and 36 inches. Your retailer should be able to help you when deciding snowshoe length. A good site to explore is backcountry.com for a nice selection of snowshoes and accessories. Rentals provide an ideal opportunity and place to get started because you can make sure a particular style of snowshoe is right for you. Rentals are available in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Cleveland Metroparks. These nature preserves have groomed and mapped trails which provide a safe environment and controlled way to start. Carefully consider your footwear and clothing choices before going out in the elements. Waterproof hiking or snowboarding boots are good for the hiking style snowshoes. Waterproof trail running shoes work well with the aerobic/fitness style snowshoes. Socks made of wool or a wool/silk combination will keep your feet warm, while layers of clothing with a wicking material close to the skin will take care of regulating your body’s temperature and keep you dry. Obviously gloves and a hat will add necessary protection from hypothermia and frostbite. Cold, dry air can dehydrate you just as quickly as heat and humidity affect you in the summer. You may not realize you’re sweating if your wicking layer is doing its job, so you need to be conscious of remaining hydrated while enjoying all winter sports. Along with your water bottle, you’ll be glad you brought a small bag of nuts, jerky or dried fruits to give you the energy boost to finish your route. Preventing dehydration and hunger can also combat hypothermia if you’re exposed to the cold longer than you planned. Once you’re outfitted with your new or rented snowshoes, your layers of warm clothing, water and snacks, you’re ready to explore some of the amazing winter scenery of northeast Ohio. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park provides snowshoeing and cross-country ski trails, monitored for our safety by Cuyahoga Nordic Ski Patrol. The Winter Sports Center at Kendall Lake Shelter, built from native chestnut and sandstone by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, provides a rustic setting to warm up with a hot drink and relax after a day of outdoor fun. Snowshoe rentals are available when the snow depth is at least four inches at the Center and at the Boston Store Visitor Center, 1550 Boston Mills Road, in Peninsula. Rentals are $5 with a valid driver’s license and credit card as a deposit. Snowshoeing is recommended for nearly all of the park trails with the exception of the Ledges and the Brandywine Falls trails system. The Winter Sports Center staff and volunteers provide visitors with updated weather forecasts, area maps, and schedules of park events. Check the Cuyahoga Valley National Park's operating hours webpage for days open this winter, nps.gov. On Saturday January 14, 2017, the Cleveland Metroparks is offering a sunrise snowshoeing hike in the North Chagrin Reservation. Snowshoe rental is available for $7 with reservations. The hike is a total of 1.5 miles through the A.B. Williams Woods to the historic and picturesque Overlook Shelter. This might be the perfect way to experience snowshoeing as a beginner. Once you’re comfortable with using your snowshoes, the Metroparks offer snowshoeing on a number of trails and allow snowshoeing on select golf courses when there’s at least four inches of snow. Fifteen different trail maps are linked to the snowshoeing tab on the Metroparks' site, from Bedford and Brecksville Reservations to the Rocky River and South Chagrin Reservations, clevelandmetroparks.com. The peaceful, pristine parks encircling Cleveland are waiting to reveal their surreal winter beauty to us. Fill your water bottle, don your knitted hat and snowshoes and get outside.

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