Snowshoeing Lake Tahoe—there’s no better way to enjoy a wintery adventure in the Sierra. Low-snow conditions or obstacles like downed trees might delay cross-country skis, but they’re no match for snowshoes.
And what’s especially great about snowshoeing Lake Tahoe (or anywhere) is that it’s ultra easy and super fun for the whole family. If you can walk with a wide stride, you can snowshoe.
Camp Rich’s snowshoe trails have been a local and visitor favorite for decades, so we like to think we know our stuff. That said, if you’re new to snowshoeing or just new to snowshoeing the lake trails, this checklist is for you. We made sure to include the basic stuff you’ll need to know before heading out for some pristine snow touring.
Camp Rich’s Head-to-Toe Snowshoe Checklist
What to wear and bring
Layering is the key to comfort and safety out on the snowy trails. Allow us to break it down for you:
- Inner layer: Go for synthetic or wool long underwear (no cotton, please!). They’ll keep you warm even when wet, unlike cotton.
- Mid layer: This is also called the “insulating layer,” and your best bet here is polyester fleece. It’s great at keeping the heat in while allowing for breathability while you move.
- Outer layer: For ultimate comfort, wear a waterproof shell jacket and pants. They’ll help keep you dry and ward off the wind chill.
- Top layer: This last layer includes your hat and gloves. Again, choose wool or synthetic materials for your hat and gloves to retain heat. For added comfort, wear a hat with a brim to help protect your face from sunburn and shield your eyes from the light.
- Sunglasses and sunblock: Don’t forget these essentials, especially on sunny days. The sun reflects off the snowy surface, so be sure to rub sunblock under your chin and the bottom of your nose, too.
- Lightweight backpack or hip sack: Inside, you’ll want to carry a handful of day-trip essentials such as sunscreen, a compass, a small first-aid kit, water, and snacks.
- Boots and socks: Choose insulated, waterproof, comfortable boots. Good old leather hikers work great. Make sure your socks are made from synthetic or wool fabric and include a wicking liner for added warmth.
Snowshoes come in all kinds of styles. But, practically speaking, there are three types of snowshoes based on terrain:
- Flat: These are the go-to for just about everyone. They’re great for families looking forward to a day of tromping on the lake trails.
- Rolling: A step up from the flat terrain type, rolling terrain snowshoes are best for steeper hills and moderate hiking.
- Mountain: Rugged, steep, icy conditions call for the mountain terrain type, which are the tools for backcountry hikers and snowboarders.
If you’d like to try before you buy, Mountain Sports Center at Camp Rich offers snowshoe rentals for the whole family. Our team members are super nice, too. They’ll get you onto the right shoes and help you understand the differences between the types (if you’re curious).
If you’re in the market to buy, check out this great article by Mariane Davids in Snowshoe Magazine.
At Camp Rich and many other local spots, you’ll be sharing the trails with cross-country skiers. And, as with any sport, there are rules to the game. Here are the most important ones:
- On trails, skiers have the right-of-way because it’s easier and safer for a snowshoer to leave the trail to make way.
- Skiers work hard to create those cross country tracks you’ll see on the trails. Please avoid snowshoeing through them. Snowshoeing beside the ski tracks is the best bet.
- Remember to be kind to folks you meet on the trails. Who knows? You might just make a few new friends who’ll want to meet for hot toddies at The Beacon.
Okay, our Annual Snowshoe Cocktail races don’t exactly qualify as a “snowshoeing basic,” but they’re so freaking fun, we had to throw them in the checklist (it is a Camp Rich checklist, after all). Plus, participating in the races can be a great way to give the sport a try (particularly if you have a good sense of humor). For race dates and details, check out this link.
Whatever you decide, don’t miss the opportunity to hit the Tahoe trails this winter. Happy hiking!