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Snowshoeing is easy to learn, inexpensive to try

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Want an aerobic winter option other than skiing or skating?

Try snowshoeing.

The sport is easy to participate in, provides great exercise, and the start-up costs are low. Snowshoeing also gives participants a chance to enjoy peace and quiet and beautiful scenery.

Canton resident Bill Clark, a former ski instructor and longtime snowshoeing participant, is a major proponent of the sport.

“It’s great,” he said. “If you’re not sure if it’s for you, you can rent snowshoes first and buy them later if you like it. And it’s something that most anyone can do. If you want a good 20 minutes of exercise, you can just put on snowshoes and circle around your backyard. If you want anywhere from an afternoon hike to an all-day workout, there are so many trails in our area.”

“It’s especially nice to go after a fresh snowfall,” he added. “You can experience the beauty of nature, and enjoying a little solitude is always nice.”

If there’s snow, you can go — as long as at least 6 inches are on the ground, according to many snowshoeing experts. And unlike downhill skiing, participants don’t have to rely on a particular facility being open.

The Adirondacks and the tri-county region of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis offer numerous snowshoeing opportunities.

In St. Lawrence County, Wear on Earth in Potsdam rents approximately 50 pairs of snowshoes and sells about 65 pairs each year.

“The beauty of snowshoeing is that it’s the winter equivalent of taking a walk,” said Shannon Klein, who along with her husband, Mike, owns and operates Wear on Earth. “It’s great for families getting their kids interested in an activity, and you can get a good pair of snowshoes that can last you eight to 10 years.”

Klein recommends heading to Red Sandstone Trail in Potsdam or Stone Valley Trail in Colton for a solid, short outing. For a mid-level experience, she points to Azure Mountain on Blue Mountain Road near Santa Clara. And for an expert outing, she recommends the High Peaks in the Adirondacks, with Algonquin providing a superior all-day experience.

Snowshoeing
nBest time: At least 6 inches of snow on the ground.
nWhere: Anywhere it’s practical, including at numerous venues in the tri-county region and the Adirondacks.
In Jefferson County: Robert G. Wehle State Park in Henderson; Wellesley Island State Park , Wellesley Island.
In St. Lawrence County, Red Sandstone Trail, Potsdam; Stone Valley Trail, Colton; Higley Flow State Park in Colton; Indian River Nature Center near Rensselaer Falls; Catamount Lodge near South Colton; St. Lawrence University Golf Course, Canton; Robert Moses State Park near Massena.
In Lewis County, Rodman-Barnes Corners Trails in the Tug Hill Forest (the Oak Rim Trail is just for snowshoeing.
In the Adirondacks: Algonquin and several others in the High Peaks; Paul Smiths College Visitors Interpretive Center near Saranac Lake; High Falls Gorge near Wilmington; Cascade Center near Lake Placid.
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