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Can You Snowshoe Anywhere?

One of the great things about snowshoeing is you can do it just about anywhere there’s enough snow.

That’s kind of its whole thing.

It’s about getting out in those winter elements and going places you otherwise wouldn’t be able to go without heavy trudging and rapid exhaustion.

So, as far as whether you CAN snowshoe anywhere, the answer is for the most part, “Yes.”

Other than the steepest of hills, there are very few places snowshoes won’t take you.

The more essential question is “Is snowshoeing permitted anywhere?” and the answer has a couple of major components.

Does snowshoeing cause environmental damage?

woman snowshoeing

The first concern many snowshoers have about going off-trail or snowshoeing in random locations is the harm it might cause to the delicate ecosystems they traverse.

But this is where snow and snowshoes are bang-up awesome.

When you’re in snowshoes (in deep enough snow), you are not walking on the ground, you are walking above it.

The snow serves as a buffer between you and the life below.

But you need a pretty good buffer.

While 6” of snow is enough to prevent damage to your snowshoes (most of the time), when it comes to preventing damage to the land, you need at least a couple of feet of coverage.

So, yes, you can snowshoe anywhere without causing damage to the environment.

But you do need enough snow.

Is snowshoeing permitted anywhere?

friends snowshoeing

The second major component to the question, “Can you snowshoe anywhere?” is whether snowshoeing is actually permitted in certain places.

When it comes to places with hiking trails, such as national and state parks and recreation areas, snowshoeing is permitted most of the time.

Most, but not always.

Many state websites and laws specifically mention snowshoeing and where it’s permitted.

Here’s the Michigan state website, which states “You can snowshoe anywhere on state land that is open to the public.”

And here’s the website of Brown County, Wisconsin, which states “there is NO walking or snowshoeing allowed on cross country or snowmobile trails.”

Where snowshoeing is permitted is very much dependent on locality.

Some cities/counties allow snowshoeing in municipal parks. Others don’t.

Some cities/counties allow snowshoeing anywhere pedestrians are permitted. Others don’t.

So, if you want to snowshoe about town, make sure you check your local statutes.

If there aren’t any statutes specific to snowshoeing, it’s likely legal to snowshoe anywhere you can legally walk.

But, when in doubt, it’s worth checking.

And, of course, it goes without saying, stick to public property. Wandering onto someone’s private land is always trespassing, even if you can’t see it under all that snow.

More On Snowshoeing

New to snowshoeing? Check out our other snowshoe articles, starting with our beginners guide.