Brace yourselves for winter…in a pair of snowshoes!

by Alicia Asnault


SNOWSHOE POPULARITY IS SNOWBALLING AS PEOPLE ARE INTRODUCED TO the many benefits of this winter activity. Snowshoeing is fun, easy, and a great way to get your body moving and your blood pumping in the winter. With a pair of snowshoes, you can access snowy trails that are sometimes not as easy to get to with boots alone. For those who have not tried snowshoeing but are interested, look no further than the Portland Trails network to dip your toes in the snow.

Portland Trail users need not fear the winter’s potentially deep snow. Snowshoes will allow you to explore the trails you know and love, even when they are covered by feet of white powder. Avid snowshoer and regular Portland Trails user, Joe French, is hoping for an abundance of snow this winter. When asked if he feels it is easy to learn how to snowshoe, he is confident that anyone who can walk can snowshoe and advises them to try, “Strap ‘em on and give it a go!”With a smirk, he adds that if you can, “Bring ski poles… just in case.” Falling is always a possibility but not to be feared, with a cushiony layer of snow to catch you. Take it from Joe, snowshoeing can make a long winter in Portland much more enjoyable.

Portland Trails recommends snowshoeing some lesser explored areas, like Tidewater Farm or the Conant Property in Westbrook. Keep an eye out for the tracks of the snowshoe hare, keep your ears open for flocks of Canada geese, or simply enjoy the wind whistling over the harbor. Snowshoeing can be relaxing but like hiking, it can also be a challenge. Some trails require more vigor than others. Joe utilizes the winter trails at Riverside Golf Course for exercise, which he describes as “a killer workout.” Like many snowshoers, Joe feels the greatest benefit of snowshoeing is the fun he gets out of it. He finds the most fun on the Fore River Trail, alone or with company, and points out that the fun can continue afterthe trail. Take his recommendation, “The trail ends at Thompson’s Point where youcan skate and grab a beer or a snack at Adopt-a-Trail partner, Bissell Brothers.” If you really want a hard workout, you can snowshoe along the river in the Presumpscot River Preserve and take all the loop trails that head up the steep slope away from the river.

Catch these trails, or those along the Stroudwater River right after (or during!) a snow fall, as they’re popular spots for snowshoers and you don’t want to wait for the snow to get too packed down. Be sure to do your best and keep to official trails, and avoid trespassing onto private property. Very little gear is required for snowshoeing, adding to the great simplicity of the sport. Portland Trails not only offers its many trails to use for snowshoeing, but also has a number of snowshoes to borrow, free for members. Visit the Portland Trails website for information. The website also shows trail maps with detailed information about each trail. Users can filter the maps by trail activities, like snowshoeing, cross country skiing and more.

From snowshoeing the tranquil and historic Evergreen Cemetery to watching the sunset over the Western Promenade, and plenty of sights in between, let Portland Trails be your winter playground. Whether it be for fun, for exercise, or for a moment alone on the trails, snowshoeing on Portland Trails will deepen your connection with nature and make winter something you look forward to. Don’t hibernate from the trails this winter, embrace the outdoors and hit the trails with every fresh snowfall!