By AIDAN FRANKO
When winter rolls around at Colorado College, the topic of discussion inevitably turns to downhill skiing. Students begin to disappear from campus every weekend as they make their way to the ski resorts scattered throughout the mountains. But for those who don’t downhill ski, winter can be a challenging time to stay active outside. All hope is not lost, there are plenty of fun ways to stay moving throughout the colder months of the year.
The obvious alternative to downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, is a great winter activity and one with some serious benefits. With day passes and one-day ski rentals around $20, cross-country skiing is a far more affordable option than downhill skiing. Not to mention that it’s also an effective form of exercise. While downhill skiing certainly provides the adrenaline that many college students are after, cross-country skiing wins out when it comes to health benefits.
A full-body workout that burns considerable calories and helps to enhance cardiovascular endurance, cross-country skiing is the way to go if you want to get some exercise while enjoying the snow. Trails near CC include Spruce Mountain Open Space Trail, National Forest Trails, and certain segments of the Santa Fe Trail.
Similar to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing is another healthy way to stay active during the winter. With comparable health benefits to cross-country skiing and even lower costs, snowshoeing is an easy way to get outside. Once you strap a pair of snowshoes onto your feet there is almost no limit as to where you can go.
All across the state there are open areas where you can snowshoe free of charge; in fact, there are plenty of areas an easy drive from campus, including Mueller State Park, Horsethief Park, and the Crags Trail. Snowshoeing offers a great way to escape from the city and connect with nature for a few hours as you make your way along the snowy trails.
Many snowshoe trails also double as winter hiking trails and can be very accessible to hikers when the snow has been well-packed down. If you don’t have access to snowshoes or don’t feel up to walking through snow, trails throughout the Pikes Peak region can be fairly clear during the winter season and are certainly worth checking out on a warmer day. You can also rent snowshoes from the Ahlberg Gear House for $2 per day.
If you are unable to drive off-campus, there are still some excellent options to stay moving on and within walking distance of campus. Going for a trail run, walk downtown, or bike ride across campus and the surrounding neighborhoods are easy options to get exercise in the cooler weather. Moreover, these options allow you to get to know the local area better and discover new stomping grounds. Try getting some fresh air and experience the hidden gems of Colorado Springs.
When snow first hits the ground on campus, some fun ways to stay active outside are grabbing sleds and hitting the hill behind the Preserve or running out to have a snowball fight with friends. While these might not be the most traditional forms of exercise, they are certainly fun ways to enjoy the chilly winter.
Still, if none of these winter activities interest you, have no fear. The Colorado sun is always out and about, and the weather in the Springs is unpredictable. You never know when a warm spell may arrive, and spring will be here in no time.