If you have not tried snowshoeing, it is a fun activity to do with kids. Snowshoeing with kids might sound challenging, but it is similar to hiking with kids, except they will tire out a bit more quickly. The only main difference is practicing the “duck walk” as my family calls it. Your feet have to be spread wider apart than normal when walking so that you do not step on the front or back of your other snowshoe. I have a four and a six-year-old, so we can only go snowshoeing for about two hours or less before my kids get tired.
My husband or I bring a backpack with water bottles, extra gloves (one of our kids always finds a way to get his or her gloves wet), an extra hat, etc. The backpack also comes in handy for storing extra clothes as your family sheds layers while snowshoeing. Everyone starts out cold, but by the end of the journey, hats and gloves are off and sometimes coats as well.
One of our favorite spots to go snowshoeing is in the Snowy Range Mountains. The Snowy Range is part of the Medicine Bow Mountains and is located within the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. This stretch of mountains is a part of the Rocky Mountains. I know that Colorado gets much acclaim for beautiful mountain scenery, but I can safely say that the Medicine Bow Mountains can certainly compare. If you drive west from Laramie on Highway 130 for about 40 minutes, at the base of the Snowy Range Mountains is Centennial. Entering this small town feels like stepping back in time. It seems like everyone waves and is friendly. As we drive through Centennial, my kids get excited as they know we will be entering the National Forest soon.
My family loves going snowshoeing on the Little Laramie Trailhead in the Snowy Range Mountains. This trailhead is not far from Centennial (about 10 minutes), so it is perfect for a short getaway to the mountains or a daytrip. The trailhead is marked from the highway and there is parking along the side of the highway as sometimes the parking lot is inaccessible in the winter.
This trail is fairly flat, so it is perfect for little kids or beginning snowshoers. We start at the trail closest to the information sign. There is a beautiful snow covered bridge overlooking the frozen Little Laramie River. My kids love crossing this bridge and seeing the frozen water covered in snow. There is a chance of seeing deer, moose, rabbits, etc. along the trail, so that also adds to the appeal.
In the winter, we look for animal tracks in the snow and try to spot the perfect future Christmas tree. The kids wear snow pants, as inevitably they will stop along the way to make snow angels, roll down small hills, and sit in the snow. We have mini snowball fights and the promise of warmth as we head back to the car.
If you need more incentive to encourage the kids to continue along the trail or walk a little faster back to the car, in Centennial, hot chocolate and coffee are waiting at Mountain View Hotel, Cafe, and Coffee Roaster. We love to stop for lunch at this beautiful hotel after a snowshoeing trip. While waiting for you food, you can walk around and look at the antique surfaces of the room and furnishings. My kids love looking at the coffee roaster in the corner of one of the dining rooms that gives the hotel a wonderful coffee smell. When lunch arrives, my family eats and talks about our snowshoeing trip, and my kids ask when we will go again.
As our kids get older, we look forward to bigger adventures: longer hikes to Medicine Bow Peak (12013 feet), downhill skiing, or camping. As April approaches, we will not put the snowshoes too far away as spring snowstorms are guaranteed and we may want to explore some more.
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Written by: Mountain View Blogger Kim Gianakon