Snowshoeing With the SHTA – 2019

Snowshoeing is a fun way to explore the winter and is even sort of a team sport. It is fun to do with others because of the company and because the more people who have walked the same path as you the easier it is. The Superior Hiking Trail Association (SHTA) offers free guided hikes year-round. January through March they lead people down the trails on snowshoes. This is a fun way to get introduced to or return to snowshoeing with knowledgeable people, while spreading out some of the trail breaking work.

“How they work is they are open to the public,” said Jo Swanson, Director of Trail Development at the SHTA. “They normally start at 10 in the morning on a Saturday. Each hike has a hike leader. In the winter they are snowshoe hikes. Sometimes there isn’t enough snow.  So we have to be a little flexible.”

The one thing they require on these hikes is that you bring your own snowshoes and you know how to put them on. If you’re a guest a Larsmont you’re welcome to use a set of ours for free!

These hikes start at different Superior Hiking trailheads. This winter three are planned. They will start at the Normanna Road Trailhead, the Fors Road, and the Oberg Mountain trailheads. There is usually some trail breaking involved, though the tracks show that many people are out snowshoeing on this trail during the winter. The snow also makes it easier to see where other creatures have been.

Snowshoe hare tracks

“What is really fun is to see the animal tracks,” said Jo. “We know that there are snowshoe hares out there but we don’t usually see proof of them. So, in the winter we can see what animals have been there.”

Snowshoeing isn’t fast but allows you to enjoy the backwoods with minimal disruption. This means there is a better chance nature won’t notice you.

“You are quiet out there,” said Jo. “So there is a pretty good chance you will see wildlife more than with some of the other winter sports.”

Even if you see no animals, you still have the scenery. This is rugged country that is densely populated with trees, rocky outcroppings, hills, and ravines. When it is covered with snow it becomes even more magical. There are large sections of smooth snow and places where assorted ice shapes cling to rock faces.  The first hike of this year is a particularly scenic one.

“Our January hike goes from Normanna Road Trailhead to Heron Pond Camp and back,” said Jo. “That is a very pretty area, with some really nice ponds. And the campsites are really gorgeous. That is just a really good snowshoe hike.”

Their guided Gooseberry Falls hike is another great one, with trails that are specifically designed for snowshoeing. Since Gooseberry also has a lot of ski trails, this is a good place to remind you that is important to never snowshoe on groomed ski trails.

The SHTA also recommends snowshoeing the Superior Hiking Trail on your own. Just be aware that not all of the trailheads are plowed during the winter. The SHTA website has complete listings of which trailheads get plowed and which ones do not.

If you want to go out on your own, you don’t even need an official trail to go on. This will increase the work but diminish as you bring more people along. You could really snowshoe anywhere that is public land that has gotten enough snow. Jo recommends a section a little outside of Two Harbors.

“The Lake County Demonstration Forest would be a good call,” said Jo.

If you are staying at Larsmont Cottages you are close to a number of places where you can try out some snowshoes.  If you didn’t bring any, Larsmont Cottages can loan you a pair.


Photo credits

Snowshoes by Daisuke tashiro licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

Snowshoe Hare Tracks by Jim Kravitz licensed under CC-BY 2.0