Normally I don't snowshoe at ski resorts. I usually go to public trails with few tourists, no groomed cross country ski tracks, no buildings and no fees.
But earlier this winter, my husband and I had a few hours to kill at Sundance Mountain Resort before a dinner reservation, and we decided to hoof it like vacationers at the resort's Nordic Center.
The snowshoe trails at Sundance are as beautiful as any you'll find. They offer nice views of Mount Timpanogos and a glimpse of the stunning Stewart Falls, and there is a nice mix of oak, aspen and conifer habitats all around. The density of oak gives the trails a fun, hide-and-seek feel. My husband and I hiked out to the area labeled Honeymoon Meadows on the map, southwest of the yurt, where you can see Stewart Falls in the distance, as well as a side trip to Elk Meadows, northwest of the yurt.
It is a cozier snowshoeing experience than you'll usually find on the nearby Forest Service trails. The trails are winding and narrow, weaving with the Nordic skiing trails (please don't snowshoe on or otherwise mess up the Nordic grooming). The routes are clearly marked with numbers to match the trail map (I got sidetracked gawking at Timp and took a wrong turn anyway), and you can mix and match them in accordance with your time and fitness level. The course is secluded from the Alpine ski area, so you aren't listening to lift motors or watching the downhill skiers and boarders whiz by. My favorite thing about the whole Sundance resort is that its infrastructure is less obtrusive than in most ski places. The buildings are wood cabins of low profile, and the views are dominated by the rocky peaks.
The map is provided when you check in at the Nordic Center — actually a yurt — where you can rent equipment for snowshoeing and Nordic skiing, buy snacks, store your belongings and get pointers from the staff. I can imagine those amenities being a real assurance to first-timers. Even for me, it was good to have rentals close at hand when I discovered the strap on my snowshoe had broken.
Another perk of snowshoeing at Sundance is the close proximity to the resort's Owl Bar, one of my favorite taverns in Utah, for après-hike treats and libations. Get the elaborately spiced Hot Toddy to warm up from your toes to your head.
Getting there • Take State Road 92 1.5 miles northwest of the Sundance Mountain Resort entrance, and turn left onto Timpahaven Road. Take that road west and south about 0.65 mile, following the signs to the Nordic Center parking lot above the yurt.
Hours • 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Season • Winter, until April 2.
Admission • For access to 10-km snowshoe trails, $12; for access to 15-km ski trails (skate and classic skiing), $17 for a full day, $13 after 2 p.m.
Rentals • Snowshoes, $10; cross-country skis, $18