Here's a great way to get out and explore the winter woods. It might only be good for this weekend, so get ready and go!
The snow lies deep on the North Shore. But there hasn't been fresh snow for a week or so. With the cold we've had the last few days, now's the perfect time to head out on the snowshoe trails...without snowshoes. The trails have been packed by snowshoers, and the cold has hardened up that packed snow. Walking on top of the snow is just like walking on packed dirt. Stepping just off the trail sends you down deep in the unpacked snow.
Granted, I wear size 13 or 14 shoes, so I have a natural advantage. I heard a North Shore state park manager call this "boot walking" last week, and the term has stuck with me. I was in Jay Cooke State Park yesterday with my snowshoes and a plan to hike the Grand Portage Trail there. The trail was packed hard and wide, and I just carried my snowshoes the whole way.
I wore mukluks and those were just a bit slippy. The best footwear would have been heavy hiking boots with a deep tread.
Any trail that normally has snowshoers on it should be fine for walking, at least until Sunday's thaw.