How Far Can You Snowshoe in a Day?

How many miles can you cover in a single day of snowshoeing? On the extreme end, the Guinness World Record for greatest distance walked in snowshoes in twenty-four hours is 94.41 kilometers, which is equal to 58.66 miles! The U.S. Snowshoe Association (USSSA) even holds competitive snowshoe marathon events which require participants to race 26.2 miles wearing snowshoes!

If you just received a new pair of snowshoes and have never been before, you’re likely not wanting to set a Guinness World Record or run an entire marathon in the snow. As a beginner, you’ll probably be content with a short stroll through the winter woods, but how much distance should you expect to cover?

Factors that affect snowshoe trip distance

Group Experience

It goes without saying that experienced snowshoers should be able to plan longer routes and cover more distance than a newcomer to the sport. However, take into consideration the experience level of all group members, since when you’re traveling in a group, even the fastest member will go at the same pace as the slowest member.

Fortunately, experience in related sports such as hiking or cross-country skiing matters even if you or another member of the group have never tried snowshoeing. This is true especially if you have hiked or skied on the same trail system so you’ll be familiar with the terrain.

Equipment

Having the right gear can make the difference between enjoying a full day of snowshoe trekking or being forced to turn back early. Proper attire that will keep you warm in the winter is also critical!

Concerning gear, different types of snowshoes have different advantages, and specialized higher-end models may be necessary to take on more rugged terrain. Also think about

Fitness and Nutrition

Having a strong cardiovascular base will help you tackle more distance on the trail, but snowshoeing also requires strong leg and core strength. Snowshoeing is a full body workout and will stress different muscles and tendons even if you are a prolific runner or cyclist. Many beginners are not prepared for the soreness they feel the next few days after their first outing.

Make sure to properly fuel your body before, during, and after a long day of snowshoeing.  Refrain or refrain from drinking alcohol before and during a snowshoe trip, since alcohol lowers core body temperature, in addition to its other health detriments.

Weather

Very cold days or windy days inhibit your ability to cover far distances on snowshoes and tend to reduce your motivation to spend time outdoors.

Even a bright sunny day might cause you to sweat more and take more frequent water breaks, especially if you are over-layered.

There is also a safety element at play. Although you can prepare to dress for the elements to stay warm, prolonged exposure to harsh weather conditions in wintertime increases your risk of hypothermia.

Terrain

Terrain factors such as elevation profile, obstacles including fallen trees or frozen rivers, and even the type of snow will all affect how far you can travel.

Trails and paths that you’ve previously hiked on can be unfamiliar when they are covered by snow. Stopping to check trail signs or determining your bearings can slow you down but will prevent getting lost.

Tips for Planning a Snowshoe Route

Ask yourself if you are snowshoeing for fitness or for fun. For a first-timer, a three or four mile route should be plenty, especially if there is an option to tack on distance if you are wanting more. Those wanting more of a challenge can easily plan routes that are ten miles or longer in good conditions.

Regardless, any beginner planning out a snowshoe route can follow these basic tips.

Scope out Terrain

Try to find a topographical map of the trail when planning for your trip. Account for any significant elevation changes so your group will know how much exertion to expect.

Also, look out for interesting terrain features such as rivers – a frozen river can easily be traversed on snowshoes but use caution and prepare for an alternate route if the ice is not fully formed.

Start Slowly

For my first snowshoeing trip, I covered just over four miles in a single day. This route took three total hours to complete, but the moving time was only two hours when accounting for breaks and stopping to enjoy the scenery. Therefore, the actual pace roughly calculated to a very gradual 0.5 mph. 

However, going at a slow pace allowed me to enjoy the scenery and solitude of a beautiful winter day. Additionally, the trails featured a good amount of steep inclines and elevation change which limited t

If you have previous hiking experience, one rule of thumb is to plan for snowshoeing anywhere between 50% – 75% of your average hiking pace. It is entirely possible that

Account for Shorter Daylight

Another factor that many beginners fail to consider is that daylight hours are much shorter during winter. Darkness can quickly sneak up and the sun generally sets between 4:00 PM and 5:00 PM in many northern latitudes.

Unless you’re an experienced snowshoer and equipped to traverse during the night, plan conservatively to ensure you’ll make it back well before the sun sets.

Track your Trip

Nowadays, there are several fitness devices and apps that can record the details of your snowshoeing trips. These technologies provide analytics and trip details such as distance covered, total trip time, average pace, elevation gain, geo-spatial data, and even heart-rate activity.

Not only can you analyze the data from these activities to more accurately plan and predict future trips, but it will be a great way to see how much progress you make in the sport and to help remember your favorite snowshoe outings!

Rest and Recover

After an arduous day on the trail, there is no better feeling than immediately warming up your car or in a cozy cabin or lodge. Getting warm is just the first step of a recovery routine after a day of winter recreation.

Proper hydration, stretching, and enjoying a hearty meal will lift your spirits and ensure a smooth recovery. Even consider pampering yourself with a Nordic spa or Finnish sauna experience to help relax your muscles. 

Feeling ready to take on the Guinness World Record? Make sure you have your snowshoes and necessary equipment and you’re ready to hit the trails.