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Backpacker Magazine – February 2003

Powder Hungry? Hike These Snowshoe Trails

Bust out of winter doldrums on one of these stellar snowshoe routes.

by: Dan Nelson

Siegfried and Roy have nothing on the magic of snowshoeing. After all, what can compare to the spellbinding powers of powder? Like down wafting from a torn sleeping bag, snow settles gently on the land and transforms the topography. The ugliest clear-cut becomes an undulating meadow. The impassable tangle of devil's club is buried, becoming instead a smooth slope with firm footing. A familiar mountain view is disguised in a cloak of white, inviting hours of contemplation.

Snow also makes the crowds disappear. Forests that usually overflow offer abundant solitude in all directions. Scenic campsites host silence and stark beauty rather than noisy gangs of cooler-toting locals. I love to stride through a meadow that looks as if it's dotted with tiny trees, knowing that the 3-foot-tall evergreens are actually the tips of 30-foot firs. I revel in the freedom to wander where I please, aware that the deep snow protects the fragile alpine ecosystem from my footfalls and tent. And like a kid exploring his neighborhood park, I eagerly follow the perfectly preserved tracks of woodland creatures, hoping to spot a marten or bobcat or lumbering moose.

If you want a taste of winter magic, too, grab a pair of snowshoes or skis and follow one of the scenic routes profiled here.

Washington: Tumac Mountain Ramble
Montana: Gallatin Petrified Forest and Black Butte
Utah: Under The Rim Trail
California: Redwood Meadow/ Mineral King
Michigan: Manistee River Loop
Vermont: Catamount Trail
Maine: Katahdin Stream
Minnesota: St. Croix River Ramble

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