Low temperatures and shorter days can often limit our ability to get out and do the things we enjoy during the winter months. This is why we love snowshoeing as a winter activity, it allows us to continue exploring the beautiful wild country that British Columbia has to offer, even in the height of winter. It is a fantastic way of maintaining both your physical and mental health and offers great opportunities for socialising with like-minded individuals. Whether or not you’ve been snowshoeing before, there will be trails perfect for your level. Join us today as we run through our top tips for beginning snowshoeing in British Columbia. And, before you continue, why not take a look at our own guided Winter Hiking Tours in British Columbia.
There’s Nowhere Better Than British Columbia for Snowshoeing
The first thing to know is, you are in the right place to try your hand at snowshoeing. British Columbia is covered with beautiful national parks, mountains, waterfalls, and forest routes for hikers of all fitness levels. Whether you want to engage in a challenging, multi-day adventure with snowshoeing as one of many activities or hope to spend a couple of hours trying something new while enjoying the restorative powers of nature, British Columbia will have a route for you. And, there is no better way of getting to know the natural environment than by exploring on foot. From the centre of Vancouver, there are opportunities for snowshoeing a mere 45 minutes away, on Grouse Mountain. Or, you can journey up the otherworldly Sea to Sky Highway and explore trails in parks like Garibaldi, Brandywine Falls, or Cypress. We offer a fabulous tour for beginners which explores beautiful coniferous forests of Garibaldi Provincial Park and the Cheakamus Lake. Learn more here.
The Right Equipment for Snowshoeing
Fortunately, getting into snowshoeing is not expensive. Across Vancouver and the province of British Columbia, you will find many companies supplying rental snowshoes. If you are brand new to snowshoeing, a pair of flat terrain snowshoes will make for an excellent place to start. These shoes will be adequate for covering less strenuous, shorter hikes. You will need to consider the maximum weight the shoes can bear (your weight plus the weight of your backpack) and the type of snow you will be travelling across. The rental store will be able to assist you with what you need, but try to have a destination selected before making your rental. For those who have some experience snowshoeing, you may want to invest in your own snowshoes, though we recommend that you have experimented adequately with rentals beforehand to ensure you buy a pair suited to your needs.
The Snowshoeing Technique is Easy
Like any outdoor sporting activity, snowshoeing can present significant challenges when you begin to undertake long journeys or high elevations. However, the technique for getting started is very simple making this a beginner-friendly activity for those at all levels. Taking a guided tour makes for an excellent introduction to snowshoeing and will teach you all you need to know for easy to moderate routes. Should you wish to continue snowshoeing, coaching is widely available and a good option to consider for those who want to tackle longer trails or routes with significant elevation.
Pack Lots of Food
A consideration of both practicality and enjoyment. You will burn a surprising amount of energy when snowshoeing and even a short route will likely see you hiking for multiple hours. For this reason, it is essential to pack some food for sustenance. We recommend bringing as much food as you are comfortable carrying, so you can enjoy a picnic lunch when you encounter beauty spots, and can stop for snacks when rest is needed. Try to bring a minimum of 1.5 litres of water to ensure you remain hydrated.
The Clothes for Snowshoeing
When spending time outside in snowy conditions, it is essential to dress appropriately. Ensure you have warm clothing which includes a waterproof layer. Dress in thermals, bring a good pair of hiking boots and carry with you a pair of gloves and a hat. It is important to dress in layers, so that you can be wrapped up when you need protection from the wind, and can remove layers if you build up a sweat from exercising. Avoid cotton garments as these can retain moisture and give you a chill should you get wet. Instead, bring clothes made of wool or synthetic fibres that are good at wicking away moisture. And, finally, bring with you sunscreen and sunglasses. It is easy to forget that even winter hikes can see you out in the sunshine for several hours at a time and the reflection of the sunlight from the snow can be powerful.
Know Your Route
Mount Seymour is one of the most popular snowshoeing destinations in British Columbia and each year the rescue services have to complete several search and rescue operations due to people straying from the standard trails. As a beginner, keep hikes within the range of your abilities and stick to well-defined trails. We know how wonderful it is to beat the crowds and head into the depths of nature but bear in mind that winter conditions can be treacherous and if you’re journeying across new terrain, it is very easy to lose your way. Follow local guidance and plan your route well before setting out. If you would like to attempt a long hike, why not consider our guided Elfin Lakes Winter Hiking Tour, where you’ll cover much terrain in the presence of local, expert guides.
We hope the information has been useful and that we’ve left you excited to get out and begin exploring the great winter wonderland that is British Columbia. If you have any questions for us, please feel free to contact us. Our team is passionate about our tours and about providing the best for all our guests. We are here to inspire you through travel and adventure, and we’re happy to field any questions, any time.