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Playing in powder doesn’t mean you have to lug skis around, buy a pricey day pass, and stand in lift lines. Coloradans in-the-know strap on a pair of snowshoes when there’s a bluebird ski and a foot of snow. They know they’ll be able to traipse about the backcountry without the crowds found at the resorts. Caught your attention? Here are five snowshoeing spots in the Centennial State to keep you busy.
1. Located nine miles south of Georgetown on Guanella Pass, the Silver Dollar Lake trail works for snowshoe novices, as well as intermediates. From the lower parking lot, the trek is about 4.5 miles (roundtrip) with 1,000 feet of elevation gain. The latter half of the hike is steep, but the end result is well worth it. With breathtaking views of alpine forests and cliffs, the trail eventually leads to two lakes above tree line. The first lake—Naylor—is on private property, so feel free to look, but be careful not to trespass. The second lake—Silver Dollar—is open to the public and an ideal spot to take in some seriously scenic backcountry.
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2. St. Mary’s Glacier is an easy-to-climb permanent glacier near Idaho Springs. While the hike from the parking lot is steep, the trek is less than a mile long and leads you to a spectacular view of the sparkling lake that sits at the glacier’s base. If you push on another mile or so up the right side of the glacier, you’ll find a plateau with panoramic views of the Front Range.
3. For good reason, Brainard Lake is one of Colorado’s most popular areas for snowshoeing. With a little more than 760 feet of elevation gain and just a two-mile trek (one-way), this is a pretty mild hike. The trailhead starts at the parking lot, and leads hikers through subalpine forest, past a shimmering pond, to Brainard Lake—a sapphire body of water encased by the jagged peaks of the Continental Divide. Tip: For snowshoers looking to expand their adventure, there are several trails to the west of the lake that lead into the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
4. The Mayflower Gulch trail doesn’t have a lot of elevation gain, but it has plenty of breathtaking scenery. The trail, which is less than two miles, carves its way to the old Boston mine, where several old cabins still stand. Make sure to stop here, as the avalanche danger greatly increases once you venture past the cabins.
5. The Lily Pad Lake trailhead near Frisco is an easy hike made up of a few gentle rollers that eventually lead snowshoers to the icy Lily Pad Lake. We loved it in the summer, but during the winter, the trail is perfect for tiny snowshoers as no motorized vehicles—including snowmobiles—are allowed on the trail. So, make sure to bring the kids on this excursion.
—Image courtesy of Shutterstock