There’s nothing better than a tromp in the woods on a bluebird sky, sparkly snow day! What an exhilarating way to increase your heart rate (or not…), see some beautiful scenes, and get your cheeks rosy! Getting outside on a crisp winter day is highly recommended and snowshoeing on the numerous trails with the varying terrain offered in the Rangeley Lakes Region is an adventure for everyone! Here’s some tips and suggestions to make it the most fun for you.
Clothing is key… We have a saying that there’s no bad weather – just bad clothing choices. In an active endeavor like snowshoeing, layering and breathable clothing is the important factor. You’ll be cooler when you start out so you may want a layer, like a wind resistant shell, that you can remove after you’ve warmed up. A very important tip is to never let yourself get sweaty; wet is COLD. A breathable base helps avoid this and adjusting layers as you proceed along is what you’re going to want to do. If it’s a very cold day or if there’s a wind, another important hint is to not have any exposed skin – especially your face, ears, neck. You lose lots of body heat through your head so a warm hat is vital. That should take care of your ears…. And a breathable neck up will help with your neck and face. Once you get moving along, it’s very likely you’ll shed a few of these items so a pack to carry them in is handy. Waterproof winter, over your ankle, boots will keep your feet warm and dry, too.
If you’ve got a nice sunny day, or even not completely bright – you’re going to be happy to have sunglasses with you as the glare of sunshine off the snow is not only beautiful, but very bright! If there’s a lot of blowing snow, goggles will provide warmth for your face and help your eyelashes not get thick with snow!
Snowshoes are based on weight so the lighter you are, the smaller your snowshoes will be. You do need snowshoes sized to your weight. You may think, hey – for ease, I’m going with smaller snowshoes but then you’ll sink deep in the snow and that’s a lot of extra work and noooo fun! Today’s snowshoe designs are incredibly compact anyway so be sure to get a snowshoe that will support you well on the snow. Bindings are the second consideration when you’re choosing snowshoes. You’ll want them to be easy to get in with just one or two buckles and nice and secure for when you’re off trail adventuring. If you’re considering purchasing snowshoes, any easily recognizable brand name will do. We, of course, love our LLBean gear here in Maine and you can never go wrong with their products and Tubbs is another well recognized/tested brand.
Renting snowshoes is a great way to go if you’re new to the sport or you can’t imagine packing them as you travel. Rangeley has a few locations to rent great snowshoes and the place we use when we have friends here visiting is Ecopelagicon Nature Store in the Rangeley village on Pond Street. $10.00 a day for great snowshoes and you’re set for a ton of fun!
While we’re thinking of it, the best $7.95 you’ll ever spend is on the Rangeley Lakes Region Trail Map. It is chock full of information to help you get the utmost enjoyment out of the region with a great overview of the area, all the public lands, trail heads, lake access, wilderness campsites and shows trails and trails and trails…and lots more. Seriously…we’re on our second copy, we refer to it frequently, and find it so valuable. These maps are available at many local stores including Ecopelagicon, Alpine Shop, Lakeside Convenience, and Oquossoc Grocery, to name a few.
Snowshoeing doesn’t have to be strenuous but you’ll get some exercise out of it and you’ll be more comfortable if you have something to drink along with you. We’re usually not out long enough during the winter to actually carry beverages with us but it sure is nice to have them waiting for you in the car when you return.
That’s the basics for getting you started on one of the most enjoyable outdoor pursuits in the Rangeley Lakes Region. Check our blog on Snowshoeing Trail Recommendations for information on some of our favorite trails in the region.
Get out there!