Freshly fallen powder may once have inspired the desire to put on skis and hit the slopes, but this year is also the perfect weather for a calmer, more relaxing and more accessible pursuit that has won over athletes. elite and nature lovers: snowshoeing.
“It’s really accessible,” says Sasha Gollish, assistant professor at the University of Toronto and athlete ambassador for Snowshoe Canada, the non-profit association that governs the sport of snowshoeing in Canada. Over the past five years or so, Gollish has noticed that an increasing number of people are getting into snowshoeing, including parents who equip themselves with snowshoes after dropping their children off at ski clubs.
In fact, the activity has become a trending pastime for those not in the mood to hit the hills largely because it doesn’t require an addict’s level of risk tolerance or advanced skills. adrenaline rush. Mastery of the technique does not require formal lessons; you can brush up on the basics with YouTube tutorials, and the equipment required ranges from traditional tennis racket-type styles to budget-friendly tongs. And you can make the activity as strenuous or as easy as you want. “It’s everything from a hobby to a sport, from recreational to competitive,” says Gollish.
As a long-time alpine skier and world-class runner – her significant medal collection includes bronze in the 1,500m at the 2015 Pan Am Games – Gollish finds snowshoeing particularly enjoyable. “I think it’s even more meditative than walking,” she says. “There is something really magical going on in trees when they are full of snow.”
Indeed, the slower pace of the racket allows nice surprises, even when hiking in urban green spaces. On a recent excursion, Gollish went to explore Sunnybrook Park and met a wild trail companion: “Saw the biggest white-tailed doe I have ever seen in my life,” she recalls. . “It must have been a 500-pound animal, only ten feet from me.” So bundle up warm and go out, you never know what you might find.
Where to snowshoe in and around Toronto
Snowshoeing is readily available at traditional ski resorts, but you can also head to a nature trail near you. Here are some starting points.
A rural estate from the 1800s turned into a vast green space in Toronto, Sunnybrook Park is popular with summer picnickers, runners and cyclists. “When you go after it just snows, there’s a very different and deafening silence,” Gollish explains. “It’s a city vacation.
Don Valley Brickyard
For beginner snowshoers, this is one of Gollish’s favorite spaces in Toronto. “It’s this unique place stuck in the middle of town,” she said, “and if you don’t know what’s out there, you have no idea how vast it is. “
Albion Hills Conservation Area
This outdoor playground in Caledon has 27 kilometers of groomed trails in winter for skiing and snowshoeing. “It looks like the wilderness,” Gollish says, “but it’s really just outside of town.”
To learn more, visit ontarioparks.com, which lists parks across the province, with updates on what’s open for snowshoeing.