By STEVE GRANT, Special to The Courant
The Hartford Courant
February 20, 2013
There is plenty of snow, the best in many years for snowshoeing.
After all, the whole point of snowshoes is to make it possible to walk in deep snow.
You received snowshoes for Christmas? Or maybe you got them for Christmas last winter, the winter that wasn't. Now is the time to use them.
If you don't own snowshoes, by the way, you can rent them by the day. Both REI and Eastern Mountain Sports shops rent them. Sales of snowshoes, of course, are booming since the big storm.
Another option is Winding Trails in Farmington, a sprawling outdoor recreation facility where you can rent snowshoes and tromp along a dedicated snowshoe trail all in one stop. It is a good choice for beginners.
"Nothing is very difficult; it is moderate, rolling terrain," said Robb Armstrong, outdoor adventure director at Winding Trails. Follow the snowshoe trail then trek along Lake Dunning and you can put together a walk of three miles. "There is a lot of open space here for people," Armstrong said.
A three-mile hike in snowshoes will be plenty of exercise for most people, especially the first time out for the season. You probably know what it is like to walk in soft, deep beach sand; same idea with snowshoeing. It can be very tiring.
Getting the hang of it is easy. You'll want to spread your legs a bit more than usual. That's about it.
Given that many parts of the state got more than 2 feet of snow, the snowshoe options right now are almost endless. Many people were snowshoeing in their neighborhoods the day after the storm. In fact, when many streets were not plowed for a day or two, it was the easiest way to get around.
There is so much snow that most municipal parks could be explored on snowshoes. Pope Park in Hartford has plenty of open space. Do not, however, cross streams or ponds. The ice may not be safe.
State parks and state forests are a great choice.
Consider American Legion and Peoples state forests in Barkhamsted, American Legion on the west side of the Farmington River and Peoples on the east side. Take East River Road and park in the Peoples forest parking lot on the left, about 1 mile north of the bridge in Pleasant Valley. You'll be able to follow the Farmington River, with some nice views, over gently rolling terrain. Or, on the other side of East River Road take one of the trails that ascends the hills rising above the river. Even if the temperature is below freezing, you likely will find yourself perspiring before long.
In Union, Bigelow Hollow State Park has plenty of elbow room for snowshoers. Among the network of trails in the park is one that loops around Bigelow Pond. Mountain laurel is abundant around the pond, adding some deep green color to the landscape. Another choice is a round-trip trek of about 2 miles to Breakneck Pond.
In Litchfield County, the blue-blazed trail in Burr Pond State Park in Torrington loops the pond. It is about 2 miles in length with no steep ascents or descents.
Cockaponset State Forest in Haddam and Chester is laced with trails, two of them reserved for foot travel only, ideal for a snowshoe outing. Even coastal preserves, like Bluff Point State Park in Groton, which often have far less snow than inland, are covered with snow this winter. A wide trail at Bluff Point leads to ocean views from the bluff and should make for a good snowshoe walk.
Contact Steve Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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