Top Snowshoeing in Minnesota

Winter in the Land of 10,000 Lakes

Each winter Lepus americanus undergoes a transition, its brown summer coat fading to snowy white. It's part of the snowshoe hare's survival mechanism, allowing it to sit silently amidst the crystalline background. The second change, which helps the hare advance over grounds blanketed in snow, occurs on its hind feet. They are big to begin with, sporting four large toes spread about like a snowshoe. For added traction, long stiff hairs grow, providing the extra grip needed in deep snow. In winter, I don't change color (besides turning a bit red at 20 below) but I do add a second set of feet when venturing into the woods or across deep snow. People like me are better known to the scientific community as Snowus shoeus americanus or simply the American Snowshoer, and we can often be seen on winter days laying down tracks in the snow.

Snowshoeing is not flashy and doesn't require gobs of gear to get started. You won't hear talk of double diamonds and cataclysmic wipeouts. Instead, snowshoeing is back-to-basics, step-by-step exploring. Snowshoeing is for everyone; beginners can strap on a pair of shoes and be enjoying themselves within minutes. Find a place with reliable snowfall, throw in some great scenery, and you're assured of a good time. I'm fortunate to live in such a place, called Minnesota. The land of 10,000 lakes takes on a new face in winter, decidedly different from other seasons. Lakes freeze and disappear beneath snow. New worlds open. Forests thick with growth in summer become spare and stark, the bare branches of deciduous trees and shrubs contrast the green foliage of conifers draped in snow. The woods take on a rarefied air, a stillness almost dreamlike. There are enough trails, logging roads, forests, and open country in Minnesota to provide several lifetimes' worth of winter explorations. So where to start? From north to southwest, here are some"can't go wrong" spots to strap on and strike out in the North Star State.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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