Explore the quiet trails of Yosemite on a pair of snowshoes for a truly memorable experience. The winter months offer exclusive opportunities to enjoy some of Yosemite's less frequently visited attractions from a truly different perspective. Snowshoeing is a fun winter activity for the entire family. Anyone can master the simple-to-follow techniques, and our interpretive tours are suitable for everyone from beginners to experts. We provide the snowshoes and trekking poles so bring your sense of adventure and see what the summer crowds are missing.
Gear for Snowshoeing
Essential Supplies- Snowshoes and poles are the obvious ones. All of our tours will supply them, but there are other items to bring along with you. Be sure and have plenty of water. Take a lunch or snacks that includes trail mix and energy bars. Other essentials would be a backpack, sunscreen, sunglasses, a windblocker hat, all weather gloves, and extra socks.
Footwear- Warm, waterproof (preferably Gore Tex) hiking boots are essential to keep your feet dry. Gaiters are a definite plus. Besides keeping the snow out of your boots, they will keep your legs dry below the knees. Wear socks made from moisture wicking materials like wool or polypropylene. *Note- sneakers may be worn with snowshoes but will not have the waterproof qualities of a good pair of boots.
Top and Bottom- Lightweight breathable synthetic long underwear covered with insulating layers and a fleece pullover or jacket will be important. Top it off with a windproof, water repellent shell or parka and water repellent hiking pants.
Helpful Tips for Snowshoeing
Check with the local weather service before you go. Make sure someone knows where you will be and your expected time of return.
Avoid traveling on frozen waterways when possible. Stay away from thin ice. Avoid traveling in potential avalanche areas. If you plan to head off-trail, learn to recognize potential avalanche danger spots and always avoid them. Use terrain to your advantage, avoiding steep slopes, cornices, and gullies or depressions; periodically check for clues to an unstable snow pack.
When starting out for the first time on snowshoes try a flat portion of the trail until you are comfortable with steeper terrain. Walk gently, take shorter strides, don't lunge, or leap from step to step. Don't cross your feet, never step on a moving snowshoe and never back up.
Climbing- To ascend a slope kick the front of your snowshoe into the snow and press down to compact it into a step. Make sure that each new step is sufficiently above the last one to avoid collapse.
Descending - Keep your knees slightly bent, lean back and keep your weight on the heel cleats to maintain control.
Edging- The best way to traverse a slope is to kick the side of the snowshoe into the hillside, engaging the cleats. Swing your heel hard towards the uphill slope, then stomp down, securing the snowshoe edge in the slope. Poles are also helpful.
Breaking Trail- When snowshoeing in a group, walk in a single line behind the leader who is breaking the trail. When it is your turn to lead, take consistent, even steps that are easy for everyone to follow.
Leave No Trace
Avoid sensitive areas such as meadows, lakeshores, wetlands and streams, unless on designated routes. This protects wildlife habitat and sensitive soils from damage. If you are out in the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) when conditions are sometimes muddy, stay on snow or walk in the middle of the trail to avoid creating new trails. Please do not snowshoe in areas without significant snow.
Be considerate of others on the trail. Keep to the right when meeting other winter adventurists and yield the right of way to downhill traffic. Respect established ski tracks. If traveling by foot or snowshoe don’t damage existing ski tracks by walking in them.