With so much late-winter snowfall in the area around Jim Thorpe, this is a perfect opportunity to try snowshoeing. From the bottom of the Lehigh Gorge to the top of Mount Pisgah, a pair of snowshoes will enable adventure and exercise seekers to enjoy the ‘white season’ here in the Western Poconos.
On a recent trip atop the Broad Mountain, the solitude and the views were serene – as if we were the only people for miles and had the mountain to ourselves (which may have, in fact, been true). Broken only by the sound of our shoes working to keep us from sinking in the 15” of snow – and maybe some heavy breathing from the exercise – the mountaintop silence was incredibly tranquil, making our rest stops and picture taking especially peaceful.
On a trail normally experienced only by hiking or biking during warmer weather, the beautiful scenery was familiar but totally different than we’ve ever seen it before – another reward of being out in the ‘off-season.’ Wildlife viewing is easier with the white backdrop, which allowed us to see deer bounding away from us, birds darting through the trees.
We saw many animal signs in the fresh snow, from tiny mice tracks on top of the white blanket, to deep deer tracks with drag marks between the hoof prints, suggesting that this snow was a bit too deep for them. It made us wonder if deer and other wildlife could find enough food under all this snow to survive, though the abundant tracks suggested they could.
Speaking of working hard, snowshoeing is great exercise! It’s more difficult than regular hiking, but easier than trying to hike in all this snow, and it keeps the heart pumping and the body warm. There are different techniques for different parts of a trail, but overall it is similar to hiking with a bit of an adjusted gait. This particular trip was on double-track and some single-track trails, as well as a bit of off-trail exploration, with some ups and downs along the way.
Once you know the basics, the snowshoes take care of the rest, keeping you from sinking in all the way and allowing you to go right over many areas that would pose problems in good weather. Just as with all outdoor sports, you need to be prepared for the environment as well as the level of activity – proper clothing, gear and supplies are all necessities. For people new to snowshoeing or unfamiliar with the area, contacting a local outfitter might be a good idea.
We finished up this loop by bushwhacking through the woods, making our own trail back to the vehicle. That’s one of the neatest things about snowshoeing – it can be done anywhere there’s sufficient snow. You don’t need to stay on the trail and your presence normally does not cause any impact to the environment.
With many places like this for outdoor adventurers to explore, the Jim Thorpe area offers great snowshoeing opportunities – whether you are a beginner or experienced, there is something here for you.