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The woods are quiet and still. Evergreens, heavily laden with snow, release an occasional small flurry of snowflakes. The only sounds are the soft fall of snowshoes on the trail and the frosty exhale of your breath.
Snowshoeing is a classic winter activity for all ages and abilities. With snow on the ground and snowshoes on your feet, the world is yours for exploring. Stick to a trail or blaze your own through Idaho’s winter wonderland.
Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned pro, it is the season to check out Idaho’s best spots for a snowshoe adventure.
1. North Idaho: Schweitzer Mountain Resort
Try out the sport by joining a hosted snowshoe tour at Schweitzer Mountain Resort in Sandpoint. Leaving every Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 AM from the Activity Center, a host leads the way while describing the area’s geology, flora, and fauna, and identifying the nearby mountain ranges. Keep an eye on the ground to catch wildlife tracks, but don’t forget to look up to enjoy the beautiful aerial views of Lake Pend Oreille. ($20-$30 includes trail fee and rentals)
If you’d rather explore on your own, check out Schweitzer’s 32km of snowshoe and ski trails. A daily trail pass is $15 for adults and $12 for juniors, with snowshoe rental packages starting at $15.
2. East Idaho: Harriman State Park
On a chilly winter’s day, there is nothing better than the warmth of a woodstove in a trailside hut. Harriman State Park, located in Island Park, has two warming huts in their 40km winter trail system.
All winter trails in Harriman State Park are open to snowshoes and are exceptionally well marked. For a great beginner snowshoe outing take the Ranch Loop, which explores the shores of Silver Lake and winds through the historic Harriman Ranch. ($5 vehicle access fee, $5 per person trail grooming fee)
When snowshoeing the Ranch Loop, visit the Jones House along the Henry’s Fork River or venture to the Becker Warming Hut deeper in the park. Huts are open on the weekends and Monday holidays.
Snowshoe rentals are readily available at outdoor shops in Island Park, West Yellowstone, and Idaho Falls. Note: rentals are not available within Harriman State Park.
3. Central Idaho: Galena Lodge
Located a short drive from Sun Valley Ski Resort, Galena Lodge offers snowshoe adventures in the heart of the Sawtooth National Forest. With over 25km of packed snowshoe-only trails and epic views of the Boulder Mountains, Galena is perfect for all skill levels and ages. Dogs are welcome. ($5 trail pass, snowshoe rental packages available)
If you have three or more people, consider calling ahead to hire a snowshoe guide. At $35 per person you’ll receive a trail pass, all equipment, and a guide for two hours.
Whether you’re on the trail for 20 minutes or 3 hours, leave time for a meal in the cozy warmth of Galena Lodge. Home cooked meals sourced from local ingredients complement the excellent selection of beer, wine, and extra large cookies.
4. Southwestern Idaho: Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area
Located just north of Boise, Bogus Basin offers snowshoe opportunities close to the city. Five trails provide 6km of dedicated snowshoeing, plus snowshoeing is also allowed on all 27km of nordic trails. ($8 trail pass for adults, $5 for children, 5 and under free, rental packages available)
For a truly unique experience head to Bogus Basin after the sun goes down for night snowshoeing. Trailside solar powered lamps illuminate the route, making for easy night-time navigation. Call ahead to confirm night snowshoe dates and hours.
What to Wear and Pack:
Snowshoeing doesn’t require fancy equipment or gear, but bringing a few key items will help you stay warm, dry, and comfortable.
- Winter boots or waterproof hiking boots
- Snowpants or synthetic pants and long underwear
- Layers on top: wicking long sleeve shirt, warm middle layer, and water resistant coat
- Hat and gloves or mittens
- Backpack to carry extra layers, a water bottle, snacks, and camera
- Gaiters, if you plan to snowshoe off-trail
Sara Sheehy seeks adventure in the mountains of Idaho and beyond. Follow her on Instagram at @sarasheehy.
Published on December 13, 2016