In the winter, the outdoors can be a little less inviting at below freezing temperatures, and like most Utahns, I tend to curl up at home with some hot tea and a blanket. The winter is for hibernation, right?
I like to try not to be a homebody, and when I am being active and outdoors, I am at my happiest. Brighton and I decided to go snowshoeing this past weekend at Solitude Ski Resort. During the winter, the Silver Lake Recreation Center turns into snowshoeing and cross-country skiing only terrain, which requires a pass obtained at the center in the parking area. Silver Lake is pretty any time of year, including winter.
The day before our flight to Florida we went XC skiing up there, and the weather was perfect— not too hot or cold, blue skies and sunny. Couldn’t ask for much more! Yesterday, we got above all the clouds hanging down in Salt Lake valley (and the inversion), and there were blue skies!
Snowshoeing is a beginner-friendly sport, depending on the trails you choose, much like hiking. As with hiking, pay attention to length and elevation change when looking for trails.
Snowshoes – REI’s Guide to Picking the Right Snowshoes
Solitude Nordic Center Information
Address: 12000 E Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd Suite 4002, Solitude, UT 84121
If you go up Big Cottonwood Road, it’s at the top of the loop at the top of the canyon, near Brighton Ski Resort parking area.
Winter Season: December 2, 2016 – April 16, 2017, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily
Resources & Maps:
Rates for Passes & Rentals:
- Full Day Snowshoe Pass: $7
- Snowshoe Package: pass, snowshoes, poles, overshoes — $22 full day, $18 half day (starts at 12:30pm)
- Snowshoes Only — $14 full day, $10 half day
- Poles Only $6
- Overshoes Only $7
It’s super convenient to rent right there if you don’t already own the gear because then there’s no hauling back and forth from the renal shop or REI.
We got up there around 1:00pm on MLK Day, and it was super busy with people doing rentals and buying passes. Don’t even think about going out the door without a pass or the proper gear on, because they patrol to make sure people don’t walk on the trails! We made the mistake once and regretted it. 🙁
Once we got our gear, we headed out the main door to the snowshoe trails that pick up right at the information center. We followed the Silver Lake snowshoe trail to the right to Cabin Loop, where we stayed right to continue on that trail. At the next fork, we followed the pink trail, the Solitude Trail. To make sure you don’t get lost, they have colored tags on the trees along the way at waist level. We turned around midway through the trail and stayed left to follow the same trails back in reverse order.
The areas we picked were not very difficult. The only part was the uphill on the way back. If you choose, you can follow the trails all the way down to Solitude Ski Resort, and they have a free shuttle service that will drive you back up to the Silver Lake area at 10:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
I love this area in the winter because you wander through a winter wonderland, and it’s not super crowded once you’re on the trails. The area is regulated which makes for a more pleasant experience because you are less likely to fall into postholes.
Postholing is a term in the hiking community for when people have hiked in an area without snowshoes. The word refers to the hole in the snow that resembles were a fence post would go, but instead, your leg occupies it. Some would argue that as a general trail etiquette, it’s not polite to hike through an area leaving postholes because there is a chance that someone unaware could fall in and potentially cause injury.