The basics of snowshoeing, and where to go to try it yourself

Snowshoeing in Mueller State Park offers great views, including this one of Pikes Peak

Now that the Pikes Peak region has finally gotten some significant snow, you're  probably itching to get out and enjoy some snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. You'll want to act fast — temperatures in Colorado Springs will be above freezing over the weekend. In the meantime, here are a few places close by for you to scratch that snow itch.

Gold Camp Road, starting at the Powell trailhead/parking lot at the top of North Cheyenne Cañon Park, along with the 7 Bridges Trail, are both very popular and snow will pack down quickly, but they are great places to go if you get there early. Since much of the traffic heads to the 7 Bridges trail from Gold Camp Road, conditions for good snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are often better if you stay on Gold Camp Road to tunnel #3 and beyond. The further up Gold Camp Road you go, the better.

Also, in North Cheyenne Cañon Park, the Lower/Middle/Upper Columbine Trails are great for snowshoeing. Get to them before they get too packed down by heavy use.

In Cheyenne Mountain State Park, the Sundance and Talon trails are popular with snowshoers and cross-country skiers since they are fairly easy trails with minimal rocks over which to navigate. These trails are out in the open, so after a few days, the fluffy stuff has been packed down and the snow usually has started to melt. Get there soon! For snowshoers, the Blackmer and Cougar's Shadow trails are heavily shaded and not as busy as other trails, so conditions for good snowshoeing are usually extended. 

Entry fees do apply. Leashed dogs are only permitted on certain trails, so check before bringing your pooch.

In Teller County, the Catamount Ranch Open Space, Mueller State Park, the Horsethief Falls and Pancake Rocks Trails, Crags Trail and Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument are all great places to snowshoe or cross-country ski and Mueller State Park even grooms some trails for cross-country skiing. Almost any trail there will be a good choice for the activity you like best. At Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, the trails on either the far west side of the park, or the Shootin' Star and Twin Rocks trails on the east side are your best choices.

Entry fees do apply at Mueller State Park and Florissant Fossil Beds, and dogs are not permitted on any trails at either park.

If you want to travel a little farther, Eleven Mile and Staunton state parks both have trails suitable for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Entry fees do apply. Leashed dogs are permitted at these parks.

This is not an exhaustive list, but should be enough to get you started. Go have fun in the snow while you can!

Also, if you know of a high school-aged kid who is a good prospect for outdoor recreation leadership, look into the BOLT program. The Building Outdoor Leaders Today program is conducted by the Catamount Institute, Kids on Bikes and Colorado Springs TOPS Rangers. "By partnering with local organizations, this program provides exceptional experiences for teens in Colorado Springs to explore the outdoors"  the program's website says. Spaces are limited, and a $495 fee applies (scholarships are available). Although the website says the signup period ended Jan. 29, I have been told that applications are still being accepted. See the program website for more information.

Be Good. Do Good Things. Leave No Trace.

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