Winter is almost upon us and if you’re like me, it can be really tough to motivate yourself to exercise outside this time of year. The cold temperatures, snow and lack of sunlight cause most of us to retreat to a stuffy gym until spring.

If that’s you, consider giving one of these winter sports a try. There is no need to hibernate if you have warm layers, a thermos of hot chocolate, the right gear and a friend willing to brave the snow with you.

Snowshoeing

This winter sport is probably the easiest to learn and is very inexpensive, even if you want to invest in your own pair of snowshoes. Snowshoeing is a great way to explore the backcountry in the winter and is also a perfect way to access your favorite trail once it is covered in snow. Snowshoes work by distributing your weight over a larger area so that your foot does not sink completely into the snow.

Cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing is one of the best workouts out there because it is both an aerobic and weight-bearing activity. Plus, there are few things more relaxing than spending a sunny winter day on a snow-covered trail with friends. Classic skiing is arguably easier to learn than skate skiing and a lesson is always a good idea for beginners.

Thanks to the Black Mountain Nordic Club, the following trails are groomed throughout the winter and are perfect for a day on the trails, whether you prefer snowshoes or skis:

Cutler Hill – #552 Cross-country ski or snowshoe with your dog on gentle slopes, spur trails and a meadow loop. From Dayton, take Highway 14 west 19 miles. Parking lot is on the north side of the road.

Sibley Lake – #558 Some loops provide for skate/ski opportunities and snow shoes are welcome. These trails are track set for classic skiing therefore dogs are not allowed. Trail begins and ends at Sibley Lake parking.

Pole Creek – The area provides opportunities for cross-country skiers and snowshoers to explore loops, hills, ridges and forested areas throughout the winter. From Buffalo take Highway 16 west about 17 miles and the parking lot is on your right.

Visit Back Country Bikes & Mountain Works on Main Street in Sheridan to rent snowshoes, skis, boots and poles.

Fat Biking

Think mountain biking, but in the snow! Developed in Alaska, these bikes are equipped with wide tires, which allow you to ride your favorite trails even with a foot of snow on the ground. They are gaining popularity and there are even fat biking races being offered in our region during the winter months.

Sheridan Bicycle Company on Brundage Street in Sheridan offers daily rentals and can guide you to the best trails in the area.

Always be sure to take extra precautions when heading outdoors during the winter months, regardless of activity. Make sure to bring extra layers, food, water, matches and let a friend know where you are heading. Always check the weather conditions where you are traveling and pack an emergency kit in your car. With just a little preparedness and a sense of adventure, this winter may prove to be your best and fittest yet!

Claire Hobbs is the communications and development director for the Sheridan Community Land Trust.