To Hike or Snowshoe?

Happy New Year!

There’s only one way to work all that champagne out of your system and it’s to snowshoe! You all made a new years resolution to snowshoe more this winter right?

We’re back with our Wednesday snowshoe series talking about when to hike and when to snowshoe. So far we’ve discussed the history of snowshoeing, why to snowshoe, how to choose a pair of snowshoes, where to buy snowshoes, the clothing and gear needed to snowshoe, and what to pack for a day on the trails.

Today we’re talking about when to snowshoe vs hike.

A lot of people are recreational snowshoers, meaning that if there’s a few inches of snow on the ground then it’s time to snowshoe and that’s cool.

Al and I are more “bare-booters” in that, we like to hike on snowy trails because we can move faster and easier than if we snowshoe but the second that we posthole (when our feet start to sink into the snow) we strap our snowshoes on and call it good. It’s much easier to snowshoe than it is to keep pulling your feet out of several inches of soft snow or wet, sticky snow.


In most cases it’s good trail etiquette to avoid postholing. Holes can freeze up making them dangerous for follow on hikers, they can tear up the trails and if you’re trying to cross-country ski on trails that someone has potholed it’s really easy to get the tip of your ski caught. And it’s really good to avoid postholing on narrow, steep and windy trails.

Our rule of thumb is if the snow is soft enough to let our boot sink through then it’s time to snowshoe. This means that if we are hiking in the fall, winter or spring and in a place where we expect to find snow we  try to always have our snowshoes strapped to our packs just in case we come across a patch of soft snow.