Trail etiquette for snowshoers

Snowshoers should stay clear of ski tracks.
Snowshoers should stay clear of ski tracks.

Considerably more outdoor enthusiasts are taking up snowshoeing, and traveling trails once used only in the summer.

However, one big problem has begun to arise because of the increased popularity in the sport: lack of trail etiquette. While cross-country skiing throughout the Adirondacks, and the United States in general, I am seeing more and more snowshoers walking two, three, and four wide on trails also used by skiers. Some snowshoers walk only on the set tracks of skiers, thinking they are doing the skier a favor. Last season I met several shoers and dogs walking side by side on a trail, accompanied by two others in hiking boots only.

When I speak to snowshoers in general about these concerns, the first response is usually “What’s the big deal? Skiers can still use the trail, can’t they?” Skiers want a track for their skis, whether set by machine or made by other skiers or themselves. Trying to ski on snow that has been packed to concrete-like hardness makes kick and glide very difficult, if not impossible.

Snowshoers should follow three simple rules of the road. One, walk single file. Two, walk to the far right in each direction as you travel along a trail. Three, do not step on ski tracks unless absolutely necessary to proceed. Also, do not travel on snow-covered trails without skis or snowshoes. Hiking in boots creates holes that can cause serious falls for skiers. Following these simple rules of the trail allows all to better enjoy their winter experience.

John Gosier, Chaumont

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