Snowshoe your way through Madison’s parks
Snowshoeing is easy, quiet and relatively safe compared to most of our state’s favorite frozen pastimes, so let's clip in.
The days of slush and ice are upon us, but that also means it’s time to whip out your gear and engage in some outdoor winter activities. We love skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling as much as any hardy Wisconsinite, but sometimes you need a hobby that is a bit closer to home and requires a bit less commitment, both in terms of practice and energy.
Snowshoeing is easy, quiet and relatively safe compared to most of our state’s favorite frozen pastimes. The City of Madison rents snowshoes for kids and adults out of Vilas Park by the hour. (Note: Warming houses are closed due to the pandemic.)
So before bundling up for a day of romping around the backcountry, consider bopping around the following local spots.
Where to go:
- Eastside — Elvehjem Sanctuary, Heritage Prairie, Heritage Sanctuary, Door Creek Park
- Westside — Hoyt Park, Garner Park, Mineral Point Park, Walnut Grove Park
- North — Sandburg Woods, Warner Park, Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park
- South — Indian Springs Park, Knollwood Conservation Park, Prairie Ridge Conservation Park, Edna Taylor Conservation Park
- Stay off the groomed, cross-country ski trails, and rather stick to the other trails across city parks.
- Make sure you’re warm and toasty with sturdy boots and quick-dry layers.
- Stay hydrated — even if that means packing a warm water bottle — and always keep your own limitations in mind when planning your path.
- Many critters build snow tunnels throughout the city’s parks, so be sure to stay on-trail to avoid trampling them.
- Wait until there is about 4 inches of snow on the ground for an enjoyable and non-destructive trip.
- Use poles. They seriously help.
- Stretch beforehand — snowshoeing is much more of an exercise than you may think it is.
- Wear a backpack to carry snacks, water, extra layers, a first aid kit and other important belongings.
- Have fun, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get the hang of it right off the bat!