Snowshoeing is the ultimate winter weather activity your family can do literally anywhere – yes, even around Champaign-Urbana
No hills required, no road-tripping necessary, and all the quiet time your family desires out in nature during one of the most beautiful times of year
Have you heard of snowshoeing? Picture a super-special winter walk with a couple of people in your crew when the snow is freshly fallen. Anywhere you could go for a walk or a hike proves to be a great place to try out snowshoeing. With that being said, there are some trails around Champaign-Urbana and beyond that we hear are a great place to go snowshoeing as a family. (Don’t want to snowshoe? Go sledding instead. Or, do both!)
Truly, you can go for a snowy hike without any extra “snow gear” beyond what you’d wear to go sledding. Boots, snow pants, and warm everything will have you covered. However, odds are good you’ll be concerned about ice and your adventure will be short-lived. Investing in a set of snowshoes and poles will ensure you’re ready for all you may encounter on your trip. Make sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post to see some ideas on what gear to grab for your snowshoe adventures.
If you’re new to the sport, here’s a good primer on how to start – with kids, too.
Where to Snowshoe Near Champaign-Urbana
You can go snowshoeing nearly anywhere you’d go for a walk! And we have lots of walking paths and hiking trails near Champaign-Urbana to choose from. (Remember the difference between our walking paths and hiking trails list – generally, the walking paths are found right in town and the hiking trails take you out into nature to forest preserves, state parks, etc.)
Here are some of the best places to go snowshoeing in Central Illinois:
- Buffalo Trace Prairie, Mahomet – Just a hop, skip and a jump away from C-U and right off I-74, the Buffalo Trace Prairie is adjacent to Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, located right across Route 47 in Mahomet. You’ll find one of the entrances to the trails right across from the Botanical Gardens at Lake of the Woods. The “five mile trails” offer great snowshoe trails but be warned – it can be easy to get turned around at Buffalo Trace so try to pick a trail/path before you head out in the cold so you don’t get lost.
- Allerton Park, Monticello — For some reason Allerton is a snow magnet. Bonus: see the sculptures.
- Kickapoo Rail Trail, Urbana to St. Joseph – The 6.7 mile first phase of the Kickapoo Rail Trail is a great option for snowshoeing. The entire 24+ mile trail is not yet complete but you can use the portions that are for a lengthy, quiet snowshoe experience – you won’t be finding many bikers on the trail when snow is on the ground! (Note: snow melts quickly on pavement, so this might be shortlived; or snowshoe on the side.)
- Weldon Springs, Clinton – With listed cross-country ski trails on their park map, Weldon Springs is a fantastic place to venture to for snowshoeing. The snow trail takes you away from the heart of the park and out on a loop by a creek. You’re bound to see lots of wildlife on your trek at Weldon Springs.
- Moraine View, LeRoy – Moraine Views is full of potential for winter sports fun and many Central Illinois residents head out there to cross country ski, snowshoe and even snowmobile around the lake (so watch out for snowmobiles).
Snowshoes fit over boots, so you’re going to buy snowshoes that cover a range of sizes. This is nice because you can purchase, say, two sets of gear but switch out who uses them (depending on the ages of your crew, of course). Start small and make sure it’s something you really enjoy doing. We think buying two sets is reasonable if you’re new to snowshoeing. Unfortunately, snowshoe gear is difficult to find from a local business, but available online.
If you’re looking for warm winter weather gear, we recommend visiting Champaign Outdoors or RuggedOutdoors.com– shop local!
Note: The links below are affiliate links and are merely suggestions as you decide what to purchase in terms of snowshoe gear. chambanamoms.com earns a small commission on purchases through those links. Thank you for supporting our small business.
The Whole Package
Snowshoes and poles for men, women, youth and kids, Amazon
The top seller on Amazon for snowshoes, this set seems to have it all covered. They have a handy sizing guide to help you decide what size snowshoes to order on the listing. As far as we can tell, this is the whole package when it comes to starting in snowshoeing.
Junior Snowshoes (no poles), Amazon
For your big kid that is going to get “real” snowshoes, you may not quite be ready to hand them poles yet. This set of legit snowshoes keeps selling out on Amazon, so that tells us they may live up to the hype and be a good set to try!
Adjustable trekking poles (no snowshoes), Amazon
If you want to get yourselves some more stability on your snow adventures but don’t want to buy snowshoes as a set, you may want to get a set of trekking poles.
Starter snowshoes for kids, Amazon
Made from molded plastic and no poles or anything included, these are recommended for younger kids wanting to try out snowshoeing.
Earlier this winter, we spotted some snowshoe sets at a steal of a deal at Costco for $69. We are not sure how much longer they’ll be there, so go check them out when you get a chance!