Admit it. You love snow. It's one of the reasons you moved here from Texas/Florida/Mississippi/anywhere low and warm and, do we need to say it, snow-deprived. You feel inexplicably happy when you see Pikes Peak's summit dusted in white. And when you glance out your office window and see flakes drifting down, you start scheming about how to ditch the afternoon meeting so you can escape and try out your new snowshoes.
The Pikes Peak region is the perfect place for snow-lovers. A two-hour drive gets us to one of six ski resorts or one of 11 state parks. Three million acres of the Pike and San Isabel national forests surround us. Stashes of powder beckon to us on mountains stacked on the horizon. So it's not surprising that we've come up with many ways to play in the snow — on snowshoes and snowboards, cross-country and downhill skis, and snowmobiles.
Go like Bigfoot
Snowshoeing could be the perfect winter sport, especially for weekend warriors. It requires the same skills as walking, so if you've got that down, you're snowshoe-ready. And it allows you to explore your favorite summer trails in the winter, when they're clogged with snow. The trails at Mueller State Park (parks.state.co.us/mueller) are perfect for snowshoeing. The park visitor center offers regular snow updates and even rates trails according to difficulty. Down the road, Horsethief Park (fotp.com/ringthepeak/Portal.html) is just one portal to the Ring the Peak Trail that's popular year-round. This trail heads uphill to an open meadow and leads to miles of other trails in the region.
XX marks the spot
Cross-country skiers often talk about the magic of gliding through the trees, their skis whispering on the snow. This sport can have all the thrills of downhill skiing without the crowd, or it can be a way to explore forest trails with grace, not speed. Rent cross-country ski equipment at area outdoor stores and head to a nearby state park (parks.state.co.us) or a Nordic center. (Coloradocrosscountry.com has a complete list.)
It's all downhill
Breckenridge is 106 miles from the Springs. Keystone, Eldora, Loveland, Monarch and Arapahoe Basin are all 125 miles or closer. Whether you prefer the sprawling terrain of Breck or Keystone or the more intimate setting of a smaller resort, you've got to admit we've got it made. To chart your ski day, check the snow conditions and resort info at coloradoski.com. For deals, stop in at your neighborhood supermarket or gas station, and at the beginning of the season, pick up a $10 Gems card (coloradoski.com), which offers significant discounts at nine resorts. Other tips: Ski at the beginning and end of the season for lowest lift-ticket prices, opt for half-day tickets at some of the pricier resorts, and hook up with ski clubs or groups for package deals (snojets.org, blazerskiclub.org).
You're all about the solitude of a forest trail in the winter, but sometimes you secretly lust for speed. Straddle a snowmobile for some winter thrills. You can rent a machine from Monarch Tours near Monarch Pass (snowmobilemonarch.com), or from Good Times Adventures near Breckenridge (goodtimesadventures.com).
As a volunteer Coach and Mentor in my third year at The First Tee of…