Mountains Aren’t Just For Skiing
Banff National Park, which encompasses more than 2,500 square miles, has a few hundred hiking trails, according to Mr. Welsh of Discover Banff Tours. The Swiss and French Alps are replete with snow hiking trails, as are the Dolomites. Diego Zanesco, a hiking guide in that region, said there are “an innumerable amount of marked snow hiking trails.” Since the hiking is dependent on snow, season varies by destination: In the Dolomites, for example, it usually runs from early December to early April.
Are there guided trips?
Hikers can embark on treks using a map and GPS, but local tour companies in ski resort towns often offer half- and full-day group and private excursions. Mr. Welsh’s company, for one, runs half-day guided snow hiking trips in Banff National Park for between $40 and $100 a person. Mr. Zanesco offers full-day hiking excursions in the Dolomites at a starting cost of $700 for two people, and several adventure companies sell multiday snow hiking trips. REI Adventures, for example, has a four-day snowshoeing trip in the White Mountains, in New Hampshire, at a starting price of $749 a person.
In addition, some hotels in snow hiking regions, such as Rosa Alpina in the Dolomites, organize excursions for their guests to nearby mountains. The hotel’s owner, Hugo Pizzinini, who is an avid snow hiker, also takes guests out on hourlong free hikes in the nearby hills of San Cassiano village. “They’re a way for newcomers to get introduced to the sport,” he said.
Any safety issues?
When it comes to safety, Ms. Bayer said that hikers need to be concerned about avalanches if they’re on steep terrain. Since the risk of these can change daily, they should check in with the local ski center about that day’s conditions before setting off. In addition, since some trails aren’t marked, it’s easy to get lost. Hikers should always head out with at least one other person and a map, compass and GPS.
And this is fun?
“You’re trekking up and down hills, and all of a sudden, you stumble across an open valley with snow-covered mountains and frozen lakes,” Mr. Zanesco said of snow hiking in the Dolomites. In addition, many of the mountains in the region are home to family-owned restaurants and bars, and hikers often trek from spot to spot and enjoy food and drinks along the way.
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