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Snowshoe to beat the winter blahs 

Snowshoeing can be as awkward to attempt as is to spell. But it soon becomes second nature. Once the snow flies, lands, and settles over our local parks and trails, the ways to enjoy the winter outdoors can double or even triple, much like your footprints once you strap these babies onto your boots.

Monroe County Parks welcome snowshoeing on any of their trails or fields. Durand Eastman, Mendon Ponds, and Webster Parks have designated cross-country skiing trails as well, which snowshoers can follow alongside. (To observe snowshoe etiquette, avoid walking directly on ski tracks and groomed ski trails so that “postholing” doesn’t mar the fluidity of the skiing experience.) Periodically, local outdoor organizations such as Finger Lakes Museum and the Genesee Valley Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club will meet at these parks for group snow hikes, so check with them too for the latest scheduled outings.

Irondequoit’s Helmer Nature Center will offer a Family Guided Snowshoe through their trails on Saturday, Jan. 9 and Sunday, Jan. 24, at 3:30 p.m. The one-hour program will be led by a naturalist who is familiar with the site, and the event fee ($5 for members; $8 for non-members) will cover snowshoe rental as well. Registration for each outing is required.

Helmer is also open for snowshoers every day from sunrise to sunset. Snowshoe rentals are available on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m. through February — except Jan. 16 and Feb. 6 — for self-guided tours of the trails. Equipment rental is $3 for members and $5 for non-members (or $15 per family). Registration is not required, but snowshoeing will only occur when the trails have a snow base of at least 6-8 inches.

Both novices and experts can explore the grounds and trails at the Genesee Country Nature Center in Mumford for Snowshoeing in the Winter Woods. Every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., snowshoers can hike on their own or borrow a pair from the nature center — for all ages and sizes — and receive lessons to easily maneuver a winter adventure. Sundays at the GCNC is also open for cross-country skiing, sledding on the Great Meadow Hill, and walks through the snow-blanketed, postcard-worthy historic village. The suggested donation is $5, and it’s best to call ahead for the latest updates: 294-8262.

Another classic area winter recreation site is Rochester Museum & Science Center’s Cumming Nature Center in Naples, which features a designated 3-mile snowshoe loop and rentals available for $5. The nature center also offers cross-country skiing on groomed trails, with lessons, tours, and rentals also available. Admission is $5, and it’s wise to call ahead to confirm snow conditions: 374-6160.

And save the date: On Saturday, Feb. 13, Cumming Nature Center will host NordicFest, complete with snow yoga, ski orienteering, and more ways to enjoy outdoor winter recreation.

Katherine Stathis is CITY's calendar editor and circulation manager. She can be reached at

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