Embrace the chill

Forget cabin fever. Snowshoeing is the perfect excuse to don your cold-weather gear and get outside this winter. You’ll burn calories and maybe even spot some snow-loving animals along the way. There really is nothing quite like exploring a pristine forest, covered with a white blanket of snow.

Reminiscent of the area explorers and traders of long ago, traditional snowshoes were made of wooden frames laced with rawhide. Today’s version is lightweight and super comfortable. Available at most major sporting good stores, a pair of snowshoes will cost about $50. Several area nature centers also have snowshoes for rent, including Springbrook Nature Center in Itasca, (630) 773-5572, itasca.com. You can also rent snowshoes at any REI sporting goods store. Test them out in your backyard and then head to a local forest trail to explore the winter wildlife.

Snowshoeing is easy and inexpensive and the risk of injury is low. We all know that kids love to trample around in the snow and this is the perfect chance to let your kids get some fresh (albeit chilly) air. As with any outdoor sport, wear layers and cold weather gear, though you’ll likely break a sweat.

The DuPage County Forest Preserve sponsors a number of workshops and group hikes. Check out one of its comprehensive snowshoe clinics or guided treks: led by a naturalist, anyone ages 5 and up will learn the basics and then put skills to the test on a hike through the snow. The first clinic will be held at Fullersburg Woods in Oak Brook Jan. 14. Fullersburg Woods and Herrick Lake will host other introductory clinics as well as naturalist-led hikes throughout the winter season. Snowshoes are provided for all programs. Visit dupageforest.com for more information.

For a true winter treat, try out nighttime snowshoeing. On Feb. 16, Waterfall Glen will host a ranger-led evening snowshoe hike—call (630) 850-8110 to reserve your spot. You’ll trek through the quiet woods at your own pace under the light of the moon.

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