Why You Should Try Snowshoeing This Winter

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Try renting snowshoes at Illinois forest preserves or parks to see if they’re for you before spending $100-$300 for pair. Forest preserves in DuPage County offer them to rent at three different locations. (Photo courtesy of Forest Preserve District of DuPage County)

Some northern Illinois farm families with lengthy strolls to the barn and hunters navigating deep snow know the benefit of snowshoes. Increasingly, other Illinoisans are discovering them too as a way to keep from sinking in snow and enjoy winter outdoors.

Several Illinois state parks and forest preserves openly encourage snowshoeing, including parts of the 26,000 acres that make up the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, just west of Chicago.

“They’re a little different,” said Marty Jandura, an assistant manager of site operations for the DuPage district. “You kind of have to spread your legs out a little bit…if you walk like you normally would, what you might do is step on the snowshoe next to you.”

Jandura, recently featured as part of the RFD Radio Network’s® “Town & Country Partners” program, praised snowshoeing as a way to enjoy Illinois in winter. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is one of several, along with some parks throughout the state, that offer snowshoe rentals. The DuPage district rents them at preserve locations in Oak Brook, Warrenville and Wheaton. It charges $10 to rent for two hours or $15 for a day.

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Marty Jandura, left, leads a class on ice fishing at a DuPage County Forest Preserve. Jandura has worked for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County for two decades and serves as an assistant manager of site operations. (Photo courtesy of Forest Preserve District of DuPage County)

“You actually have to choose them according to your weight and what kind of activity you’re doing more than your shoe size,” said Jandura. “Say someone who is 6 feet tall and weighs 160 pounds, they might not need as big a snowshoe as someone who is 5.8’ and but weighs 230.”

According to snowshoe.com, the winter walking and hiking tools:

  • Acquired the traditional webbed design from Native Americans
  • Were as big as 7 feet to help hunters, trappers and surveyors navigate through deep, powdery snow
  • Can burn 420/1,000 calories an hour, depending on the terrain
  • Represent the least expensive winter sport.

With new snowshoes running from $100 to more than $300, Jandura encourages trying out a rented pair to discover the benefits.

“A lot of people think Illinois is flat and in a lot of areas it is,” said Jandura. “You get into some of these river valleys and areas that had a lot of glacial activity you get quite a few hills.”

Like the DuPage County forest preserves, many open one hour after sunrise and close an hour after sunset.

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