The Health Benefits of Snowshoeing

By: Caroline Ackerman

December 10, 2020

Couple snowshoeing down a mountain

Snowshoeing can burn more calories than walking and makes it easy to maintain a six-foot physical distance during the pandemic. For those looking for a fun, low-impact workout, and this popular and affordable winter sport could be just right for you and your family.

Though it may not have the adrenaline rush of snowboarding or skiing, snowshoeing provides significant health benefits such as:

  • Exceptional cardiovascular workout – burn up to 1,000 calories per hour!
  • Low-impact muscle building
  • Endurance building
  • Balance strengthening and agility
  • Improves your sense of well-being by connecting to nature

Prepping for Your Snowshoeing Adventure

There are some crucial details to think about when it comes to snowshoeing, especially if you are a beginner. Make sure to pick the right kind of footwear to go on top of your snowshoes; a pair of comfortable waterproof boots are a great choice and remember to wear lots of layers.

Several local places rent snowshoes if you aren’t sure about spending money on a pair. Check out Bobos Ski and Board Patio or our local REI Co-Op.

Check out REI’s Beginner’s Guide to Snowshoeing and also How to Put on Snowshoes for reference.

Local Snowshoeing Hot Spots

Here are our top snowshoeing picks in the Lake Tahoe area, with plenty more to find if you point your search engine in the right direction.

Galena Creek Park
Close to Reno, this beautiful, low-altitude park offers several trails. You’ll find various creeks and streams under cover of pristine ponderosa pines. From beginner to advanced, the differing trail systems provide a challenge for everyone! Head west on State Route 431 (Mt. Rose Highway) for about seven miles until you see the park sign on the right side of the highway.

Tahoe Meadows – Chickadee Ridge
This local favorite not only gives fantastic views of Lake Tahoe but the best part? – friendly little chickadees will eat seeds right out of your hand! Be sure to pack plenty of sunflower birdseed, as that seems to be their favorite. From the trailhead parking lot, head southeast into the open meadow. Then follow the ridgeline to your right (southwest). Continue southwest up toward the top of the ridgeline to the west, and you’ll get to Chickadee Ridge in just under two miles.

Spooner Lake Trail
The easy 2.5-mile loop around Spooner Lake is excellent for all skill levels. This alpine lake is surrounded by aspen trees which house varied bird species, so bring your binoculars! Dogs are allowed on a leash, and all-day parking is $10.

Kirkwood Ski Resort
You’ll need a trail pass, but this South Lake Tahoe resort has various routes from beginner to advanced, with roughly 50 miles of terrain. Nighttime snowshoe treks during the full moon are also available throughout the winter. Kirkwood is located on Highway 88, close to Carson Pass.

Camp Richardson
Heading north, you can find this well-established and favorite local snowshoeing spot. If you’re up for an adventure, you can trek up to Fallen Leaf Lake. It’s located off Highway 89 and near Fallen Leaf Road.

Dry Pond Loop
This moderate, 6.5-mile loop near Washoe Valley has impressive views of Carson Valley, Washoe Lake, and the Mt. Rose Wilderness. If you like the sound of rushing water, most of the trail meanders along White’s Creek. This area is dog-friendly and kid-friendly, which makes it a family favorite.

Royal Gorge
Soda Springs is home to this resort, which is well known for its cross-country skiing trails. Enjoy extensive trails leading deep into the trees with spectacular views. Find Royal Gorge from the Soda Springs exit on West Interstate 80.

Ash Canyon Creek
Tucked away in the Carson Valley, these trails are filled with mountain bikes in the spring and provide excellent snowshoeing trails in the winter. Find it from Interstate 580 by taking the Highway 395 Business exit to Winnie Lane.