The first month of 2017 is wrapping up, and we know many of you have pledged to enjoy a more physical lifestyle in this New Year. If you’re looking to combine a healthy activity with a first-hand encounter of rich landscapes, untouched beauty, and fresh Black Hills air, consider snowshoeing! What started thousands of years ago as a mode of transportation has evolved into a popular winter activity for recreation and fitness. Why go snowshoeing? Snowshoeing is a very easy and enjoyable way to get outside during the snowy winter days. Here's why: It's fun: Snowshoeing extends your hiking or running season into winter. It lets you enjoy winter solitude and can be a social activity. All ages and ability levels can enjoy the sport together. It's easy: As the saying goes, "If you can walk, you can snowshoe." The learning curve is much shorter than that of skiing or snowboarding. A few techniques worth practicing: widening your stance (to avoid stepping on snowshoe frames), going up and down hills, traversing slopes and pole usage. It's inexpensive: Required gear includes snowshoes, appropriate footwear and clothing, and (maybe) a pair of poles. That's it! No lift ticket is required. The daily trail pass for the Mickelson Trail is only $4! It's a great workout: Snowshoeing offers low-impact, aerobic exercise that helps you stay in shape during the winter. It's versatile: You can go easy or go hard. Plus, you can snowshoe many trails that you can't ski due to trees or low-snow conditions. If you do not have your own snowshoes, you can borrow them from South Dakota State Parks. The parks have snowshoes that fit anyone from youth to adult, and they are free to check out for a day or a weekend. If you’d like to start with some hands-on instruction, the state offers scheduled snowshoeing events that are a great opportunity for beginners, with one even scheduled for this Saturday on the Mickelson Trail. Here's some more information on the events: Snowshoe on the Trail Date: Saturdays: January 28th, February 11th & 25th Time: 1 p.m. Location: Exact locations TBD — call (605) 584-3896 for more information. These snowshoe walks are a great way to try something new. No experience needed. Snowshoes are provided. Location will depend on snowfall amounts, and will be determined closer to the event. A Mickelson Trail pass is required, daily ($4) or annual ($15). Pre-registration is required by calling 605-584-3896. Valentine’s Lovers Leap Snowshoe Hike Date: Saturday, February 11th Time: 1 p.m. Location: Custer State Park, Peter Norbeck Visitor Center This guided snowshoe hike takes participants through a dense pine forest, meandering near Grace Coolidge Creek. The hike is three miles long and is geared toward the basics of snowshoeing. It is considered moderate to strenuous. Snowshoes are provided, but reservations are required due to the limited number of snowshoes. Make reservations by calling the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center at (605) 255-4515. Sylvan Lake Snowshoe Hike Date: Saturday, March 11th Time: 1 p.m. Location: Custer State Park, Sylvan Lake Take an easy one-mile guided hike around Sylvan Lake using snowshoes, followed by a one-mile moderate hike up Trail #9 to a vista overlooking the Black Hills and Black Elk Peak. Total hike is three miles. Snowshoes are provided. Snowshoes are provided, but reservations are required due to the limited number of snowshoes. Make reservations by calling the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center at (605) 255-4515.