vknapp-snowshoeing

Snowshoeing in Algoma for the Beginner

Fresh powder? Groomed Trails? Algoma has it all for the snowshoe enthusiast and beginner!

Updated: By Cory St. Pierre

As the days turn shorter and the mercury begins to drop for the winter season, we’re always tempted to just cozy up on the couch with a warm cup of hot cocoa and hibernate indoors for the next 4 months. But if you’re like me and love to walk and hike in the warmer months, why stop when you don’t have to?

Although I’ve lived in Northern Ontario my whole life, most people assume we Northerners are just used to the cold and snow. But don’t kid yourself, I think most of us would love year-round summer. However, I suppose in a sense we have become used to it but, that’s only because we have learned to make the best out of the “off-season”.

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Because of this, there are so many winter pastimes to keep you busy throughout the season, you won’t even have the time to think about summer. Snowmobiling, Ice Skating, Ice Fishing, Winter Sports, the list goes on forever! Luckily, we are very fortunate in Northern Ontario to have so many opportunities in our backyards. But when the Algoma Region is blanketed by fresh snow and refreshed with cool crisp air, my personal favourite is Snowshoeing.

Although the activity is “almost” as easy as walking, it does take some getting used to and some preparation. The prepping starts long before you even hit the trails. The obvious first step is obtaining snowshoes.

Whether it’s flat groomed trails, fresh powder, or mountain terrain. Always ensure you are equipped with the proper snowshoes.

Here is some information that can help you purchase the correct snowshoes for you!

Snowshoe Sizing (Weight/Load)

Length Width Capacity
14 inch 7 inch 30 – 70 lbs
21 inch 8 inch 70 – 150 lbs
25 inch 8 inch 120 – 180 lbs
27 inch 8 inch 160 – 235 lbs
30 inch 9 inch 180 – 250 lbs

Now that we have the weight and load figured out, you will want to determine the type of terrain or trail you will be exploring. Although the weight/load measurement is a good starting point, you still must take into consideration the type of terrain to make adjustments to the length and width of the snowshoe.

Stokely-snowshoes

For example, if you will be breaking trail on fresh loose powder. You will need a little bit wider and longer snowshoe in comparison to your weight/load. Whereas if you’re on a packed groomed trail you may need to size down slightly. I use a snowshoe that is slightly wider, that way I can use them on packed trails, but I can also use them off trail a little bit in fresh powder on more of a flat terrain.

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In addition to the snowshoes, another recommendation is trekking poles. Trekking poles aren’t necessary but are a matter of preference however, they do have their advantages. I recommend them as they are great for stability, checking snow depth and taking stress off your knees and back.

Although choosing the correct gear may seem complicated, have no fear! Many great professionals can help you with sizing and choosing the right gear at these Outfitters in Algoma:

Great Lakes Outfitters
Carries a variety of snowshoes, boots and poles in adult and youth sizes. Accessories you may be interested in are Hydra packs, bags, strap keepers, mittens, and more including emergency supplies. Shop in person or online.
Web: www.greatlakesoutfitters.ca
PH: (705) 253-2361

Outfitters SSM – Canal District
For snowshoeing, the shop offers snowshoes in adult sizes, coats, accessories like thermal phone cases, water bottles, emergency kits and more.
Web: www.outfitterssm.ca
PH: (705) 759-0008

Clothing & Supplies

Finally, even more important than what’s on your feet is what’s on the rest of your body. I cannot stress enough the importance of dressing for all weather types (layers), but also being prepared for any emergency.

mlortz-snowshoe-hiawatha

Always, always, dress in layers. Much like hiking, you’re going to burn some energy, and with burning energy, you are going to sweat. Even though the temperature may be -25 degrees Celsius, it can be deceiving with how quickly you overheat.  For that reason, I suggest carrying a light backpack with extra gloves (1 pair thick, 1 pair light) and extra socks. The backpack will come in handy as well if you need to add or remove layers.

Lastly, always remember safety. Even though you may have planned a short trip and plan on staying on the trail, anything can happen, and you will want to be prepared. Always tell someone where you are going, when you are going and how long you will be gone. As for supplies, at the very least, carry the following:

  • High Protein Snacks
  • Water Bottles
  • First Aid Kit
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Waterproof Matches and/or Lighter
  • Firestarter
  • Whistle
  • Sunglasses
  • Chapstick
  • Pocketknife
  • (Snowshoe Repair) Needle Nose Pliers, Duct Tape and Zip Ties

All the listed items are lightweight and will fit perfectly in a small backpack. Hopefully, you won’t need to use them but if you do, you will be very glad you have them.

Now that you’re ready, it’s time to get out and stomp some snow. Whether you’re looking for a quiet peaceful trail to discover, a fully guided experience or a memorable retreat, Algoma has you covered!

Snowshoe Trails and Guide Services

Hiawatha Highlands
Open 7 days a week Hiawatha Highlands offers 14 km of snowshoeing trails set amongst tall pines and beautiful winter scenery. Choose an easy trail system and then move up to something a little more challenging. There are Rent and Pass Combos for snowshoers who need to rent snowshoes for daily or multi-day rates, and there are passes for both daily and evening rates. Check out the Group Rates if you’re going out with family or friends. Visit their Events page for upcoming challenging and special events. These trails are self-guided and well-marked.
Web: hiawathahighlands.com
PH: (705) 256-7258

Stokely Creek Lodge
Situated in the Algoma Highlands, Stokely Creek Lodge is near the shores of Lake Superior so this makes for excellent snowy conditions and great terrain with unique trails. Snowshoers can reach the top of King Moutain which overlooks an incredible view of the valley. Choose a trail from 2 km to 25 km and purchase Day Passes or Season Passes and rentals for youth and adults are available for half-day, full-day, or multi-day. Stay on-site at their premier accommodations. These trails are self-guided and well-marked.
Web: www.stokelycreek.com
PH: 1-866-786-5359 or (705) 649-3421

Forest the Canoe
You’re in for a treat with Forest the Canoe. “The Walkerbottoms” offers some different types of winter snowshoe day trips on trail or backcountry bushwhacking. The Full Moon Snowshoe takes you out into the cold winter night under the stars and includes snowshoes, trail passe, poles, headlamps and snacks. Another recommendation is the Interpretive Snowshoe Tour to Pancake to hike this trail in the provincial park.
Web: www.forestthecanoe.ca
PH: (705) 730-3457

Thrive Tours
This Indigenous-owned and operated outfitter offers authentic interpretive guided snowshoe experiences. Trips are customizable for visitors based on half-day or full-day experiences, skill level, families and friends. The experiences include hands-on learning, culture, history, and learning about the natural environment, light snacks and refreshments.
Web: www.thrivetours.ca
PH: (705) 862-1558

Trails by Community

There are lots of trail systems located in and around cities and towns in Algoma. Take some time to look through community websites. Check out the trail systems, find places to stay nearby, and restaurants, and see what services and amenities are offered that you may like. Some notable places to snowshoe include the Thessalon Ski Trail System, Searchmont Resort, Thunder House Falls Trail near Hearst, and the Snowshoe Trail System in Wawa.

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About Cory St. Pierre

As a member of the Algoma Country staff, I enjoy hiking and the great outdoors. I hope my blogs and stories encourage you to explore and plan your next vacation to the Algoma region.

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