LeBlanc follows a snowshoe guide through McCoy Park
at Beaver Creek ski resort in Colorado.
Colo. — I can’t figure out which I like better:
tramping through a forest of swaying pine trees on a pair
of snowshoes or grilling up a chicken breast sandwich on a
mountaintop deck afterward.
I get to do both.
Beaver Creek Ski Resort in Avon, Colo., snowshoers aren’t
relegated to valley bottoms or golf courses. The best
trails to explore are located at McCoy Park, a midmountain
oasis of tranquil trails, woods and animal tracks.
met up with a guide at the Beaver Creek Nordic Center,
located next to the Strawberry Park Express Lift at the
mountain’s base. We rented snowshoes, then carried them
onto the lift for the ride up to McCoy Park.
the top, we strapped on the shoes — modern incarnations
of the old wooden tennis racket devices I had envisioned.
They’re light, and after two steps I felt like an
intermediate. A couple hundred yards later, I was
practically an expert.
we dove into more than 20 miles of groomed and rustic
trails that are maintained for cross country skiers and
snowshoers. They’re surprisingly insulated from the
go-man-go ambiance of the downhill ski runs. Instead of
whooping and hollering, we heard the chirping of birds,
the rustle of branches and the occasional plop of a loaf
of snow falling off a treetop.
guide shared some history as we plunged along narrow,
winding pathways through the powder. He named the peaks
that lined the horizon and told us about the wildlife that
inhabits the area.
we discovered a lacy imprint in the snow, he asked if we
knew what had made it. I had no idea. But when he told us
a bird diving for prey made the stamp, I could suddenly
see every feathery outline. We also spotted the twisty,
curlicue tracks of snowshoe rabbits looking for food.
the views — wide-open sparkly fields of snow, distant
mountain ridges and acres of frosted trees.
is hard work, and after two hours we were ready for a
break. We ducked down a wide path that led to that other
highlight, Mamie’s Grill.
a do-it-yourself restaurant where if you order a chicken
sandwich, they bring you a raw chicken breast and you toss
it on one of the outdoor communal grills. We manned the
barbie, then tucked into a picnic table to soak in the sun
and the views while our heart rates settled back down to
we headed out again, through the woods and up another big
hill, toward the lift.
Beaver Creek Nordic Center rents classical, skate and
telemark skis, and snowshoe equipment. Nature, fitness and
family snowshoe tours are available, as are private
lessons. Snowshoe tours start at about $100 per person,
including equipment. A foot passenger-only lift ticket
costs $34, or a regular downhill ski lift ticket will
work. For more information, go to tinyurl.com/jvw5fhv.