Images of fur clad trappers with huge tennis racket shaped shoes attached to their boots may spring to mind when someone mentions the word snowshoes but in fact, modern apparatus is sleek and comfortable and snowshoeing is a great way to keep fit without realizing you are actually exercising. If you like the outdoors and hiking, you’ll love snowshoeing.

According to the Atlas Snowshoe Company, snowshoeing is the fastest growing outdoor activity. But you don’t need to invest in a pair of snowshoes just to see if you will like it. Many rental shops up in Big Bear carry snowshoes, including Big Bear Bikes, (909) 866-2224 or Goldsmith’s Boardhouse and Ski Rentals, (909) 866-2728. Here are some important things to remember if you’d like to give snow shoeing a go.

Proper Equipment: Even though there is no specialized gear, aside from the shoes, making sure you are dressed for being in the snow is important. This includes proper layering, as well as pants that are moisture resistant (like tights that wick away moisture) or water proof. And don’t forget gators for on top of your boots, as well as good socks. Nothing is worse than wet feet. Most places will offer ski poles with the snowshoes – take them. Until you are used to walking on top of the snow, it can be easy to lose your balance.

Take it easy: You many be tempted to go for the long haul at first, but go slow. While snowshoes will keep you on top of most of the snow, you will sink down into it between 6-12 inches and lifting snow is hard work. Keep a leisurely pace and pack a picnic. Don’t worry; you’ll still burn between 420-1,000 calories per hour, depending on your speed. Enjoy the nature around you.

Be safe: Follow the same rules as hiking. Make sure someone knows where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone, especially if you are going alone. Take along adequate water because you won’t realize how much you are sweating. Don’t forget sunscreen – the sun reflected off the snow can burn.

Big Bear Valley offers some great opportunities for snowshoeing. Some favorite spots are:

The Pacific Crest Trail up 2N09. You must have a four wheel drive vehicle and an adventure pass to access the trail. Ask at the Discovery Center. Once on Polique Canyon, 2N09, you take it to where the PCT crosses the road. There you can either go east or west. East takes you to Bertha’s peak if you’d like a challenge and west takes you through oak groves and level trails. If you really want level – stay on the 2N09 into Holcomb Valley – the whole valley is there for the taking.

At the end of Sand Canyon in Moonridge. A popular spot with local residents, the trail at the end of Sand Canyon takes you through majestic pines and offers peek through glimpses of the trails at Bear Mountain.

Mill Creek and the 2N10 to the 2N71 in Big Bear Lake. This area keeps its snow long after others so when it seems like the snow is gone, you can probably find it here. Once you hike past all the families that use the end for sledding, a forest of pines and alpine meadows awaits. Continue up on the 2N10 or go east on the 2N71 for gorgeous scenery and rolling hills. Make sure you pace yourself – you got in, now you have to get out.

For further information on trails and places for snowshoeing, ask where you rent your equipment. The staff will be able to direct you to places that offer the best snow for your chosen activity.

Snowshoeing can be a fun way to experience the winter wonder in Big Bear Lake. The whole family can go, and the low impact nature of the exercise makes it easy. One of the hidden joys of living in the Valley, snowshoeing offers visitors a glimpse of why people live in Big Bear in the first place.

Antique Snowshoes

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