New Ways to Explore Snowy Trails

Winter running…you’ll find hundreds of tips + tricks floating around the internet. Everyone has their own methods to talk themselves from beneath warm blankets, fight through the chilly winds + stay upright on slick trails. But, what about ditching your running shoes + exploring a few new ways to get moving + go exploring?

Like many of us I headed into the Winter months with serious determination; the snow was not going to keep me away from my miles upon miles of trail therapy! I was going to run in the snow…adding layers, traction + gaiters as the weather demanded. Except, that didn’t happen. Instead, I forgot how to run + discovered snowshoeing + backcountry riding.


Snowy trails in Silverthorn, CO.


I didn’t sign up for any spring races [after years of slowly learning they only lead to mid-Winter meltdowns about the lack of legit training in my life] so I do have a fair bit of freedom regarding how, when + why I get outside. However, even if you do have a training plan your checking off each day, getting outside with some new snow gear could be perfect for you. Tromping along with snowshoes or skinning uphill will seriously work out your core, legs + stabilizers.

Why try something new on your “go-to trails”…

First off, your body will get a few new muscles worked while you’re teaching yourself to snowshoe or cross country ski/skin. Secondly, your brain will most likely welcome the new challenge, making it easier to motivate yourself out into the cold winter weather.

Trying out a new activity will add some excitement into your wanders into the woods + who doesn’t need another excuse to get stoked about frolicking in the snow?! Also, since nearly every trail activity puts your core + lower body to use you’ll be able to feel the positive impact this will have on your running or hiking. The alpinists + ski mountaineers have incredible thighs because they earned them…plowing through the snow on their way up mountain sides.

Of course, this isn’t just about getting up a mountain side. Even those of you who are living in flatter areas, do a little searching + asking around, I’m sure you’ll find a few nordic ski + snowshoe trails worth exploring. Even without the steep climbs you’ll find a few new muscles in your hips from the effort required to break trail in fresh snow, balance on unfamiliar footwear + propel your body forward with added gear attached to your feet.


Snowshoeing in the backcountry.


How to get started with new modes of trail transportation…

The easiest way to get yourself outside + trying something new is to befriend people who know a thing or two about whatever you’re looking to try. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but I’m willing to bet a quick post on social media or verbalized interest while hanging out with trail friends will immediately have a few people offering to lend you gear + show you the ropes. The majority of us outdoorists have a plethora of gear that we’re happy to offer up if it’ll get you outside + loving life.

If you’d rather head out on your own, simply hit up your local outdoor gear store for rentals or quick tips from the staff. I’d strongly recommend seeking out a small, local store [such as Bentgate Mountaineering in Golden, CO or Wilderness Sports in Dillon, CO] but REI is also a fantastic resource with all sorts of gear for rent + intelligent outdoorists.

**Shameless Friend Request: If you’re in Colorado + anywhere near Summit County, find me. I have more gear than I know what to do with + I’d love to at least point you toward a few awesome beginner trails around here! A handful of “internet strangers”-turned-friends will vouch for me, promise!**


Dawn patrol! Skinnin in the early AM.


But, keep these things in mind…

Ultimately, you’ll need to get outside + try out snowshoeing, cross country skiing or skinning before you’ll know how you really feel about it, but there are a few fun facts that’ll make your first trip out a bit more fun [+ safe!].

Wear layers…then be prepared to ditch most of your layers in the first 15 minutes, so bring a pack to stuff them into. Even on the chilliest days, forward movement through fresh snow is not easy, especially if you’re headed uphill. Adding + removing layers is the quickest way to avoid overheating or getting too cold. Also, take along extra nutrition + hydration…this is something new for your body so be prepared to work a little harder as your muscles adjust.

Most importantly, know your limits. I will forever encourage people to get outside + explore, but know what you’re capable + not capable of. The latter is probably the most important. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by creating an huge, epic trip on your first venture out. Be realistic + be okay with starting small. Get comfortable with what you’re doing + grow from there.


Fun with friends in the backcountry.


Also, if you don’t have any avalanche awareness training…do NOT travel in avalanche terrain. Not sure what I’m talking about? Ask around at your local gear store, within your group of friends or on social media. It’s okay not to know, no one knows until they ask, just please ask! Avalanches aren’t a risk that everyone faces, but if your local interstates are regularly closed for “avalanche mitigation” [ahem, Colorado + Utah + Wyoming + Montana + Washington +…all the mountainous states] definitely be proactive + do a little research before you leave the house with your new trail gear! #stepsoffsoapbox

All of that said…get outside + enjoy it. Give yourself the freedom to try something new + find a way to make it fit into your training plan along the way. This post isn’t filled with technical or specific details about the ins + outs of trail travel + that’s intentional. I want to give y’all a reason to think about trying something new…then open up the comments + my inbox for any questions you have. Seriously, if this is something you’re interested in feel free to shoot me an email [[email protected]], I clearly love to talk about getting out + playing in the snow!

Heidi Kumm

Heidi Kumm

Heidi Kumm is a trail runner, world traveler, mountain climber, and all around adventure enthusiast. As a trail runner she has covered thousands of miles in the Colorado Rockies and beyond training for and running races from the half marathon distance to the one hundred mile ultra. Heidi is so stoked about finding adventure on trails that she has made it her career as the owner of Adventure Feet First, a travel company that focuses on getting people outside to explore the world as they travel. Over the past years Heidi has spent months living abroad, volunteering around the world, living out of a van/car/truck, and finding new ways to explore on foot, by bike or with a backpack. She has learned the ins and outs of self propelled exploration the hard way, so she’s here to help us learn from her mistakes and to help us become more informed on how to make your own mistakes…safely.

Trail Sisters is committed to creating opportunity and participation for women in trail running. Our content is always free to read. Consider a monthly contribution on Patreon to support Trail Sisters so we can continue to inspire, educate and empower others!

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