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Let’s go snowshoeing

1/13/2016

Well, we knew it was coming, didn’t we? Sure, we got our white Christmas and ice-covered New Year, but now it’s January in Iowa, and the winds are a blowin’. Instead of doing your best bear impression, sweep the crumbs off your shirt and throw on a coat because it’s winter in Des Moines — a time to watch the woods fill up with snow.

The Snowshoe Hike  will take place at the Iowa Arboretum on Saturday, Jan.16 from 1-3 p.m.

The Snowshoe Hike will take place at the Iowa Arboretum on Saturday, Jan.16 from 1-3 p.m.

Whether you’re looking for a little family fun or to try something new with your friends, the perfect opportunity to stretch your legs and take in the scenery is a snowshoe hike at the Iowa Arboretum.

“The woodland trails at the Iowa Arboretum are well marked and easy to follow,” said Emily Klein, naturalist with Boone County Conservation. “The trails themselves are relatively flat, but they lead hikers along some of the steepest terrain in central Iowa resulting in some breathtaking views of forested creek valleys and prairie-woodland edge habitat.”

One of the nice things about this time of year is that many critters leave an impression on the area.

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“We always see animal tracks and other evidence that the forest is busy with activity this time of year,” Klein said.

The hike lasts for about an hour on rolling woodland trails and beautiful winter vistas. Parts of the trail lead along a bluff overlooking the creek valley below. Hikers can option to trek down into the creek valley for those seeking a more challenging workout. There will also be opportunities to shortcut back early if needed.

“This is a beautiful hike that is well suited for beginners and experts alike,” said Klein. “It is a chance to get outside during winter and try something new with friends or family of any age.”

In addition to the hike, Klein will also teach hikers a bit about the history of snowshoeing, as well as some basic winter hiking skills. She will review the basic techniques for hiking on snowshoes including tips on how to turn, back up, ascend and descend using poles on steep and/or icy terrain.

“It’s a fun activity, and our response has been good,” said Mark Schneider, executive director of Iowa Arboretum. “I participated last year and had a great time. My wife bought me a pair of snowshoes for an anniversary present. The best gift!

“The Iowa Arboretum is great place to get outdoors and connect with nature. Snowshoeing is excellent exercise, it provides an opportunity to get outdoors, and it gives you a chance to see fantastic scenery. Also, the hot chocolate is excellent.”

Exercise or exploring, no matter the reason, make time to get out and enjoy the icy beauty of central Iowa.

“People like having an excuse to venture out to places that they might not go explore otherwise,” said Klein. CV

Snowshoe Hike at the Iowa Arboretum

Cost: Free
Saturday, Jan. 16 from 1-3 p.m.
Meet in The Hughes Education Center at the Iowa Arboretum.
A minimum of 3 inches of snow is needed to use the snowshoes. If there is no snow, but enough people who still want to hike, a winter hike on the trails will be held.

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