We snowshoed the Sawmill trails yesterday, starting with the official trail which is badly in need of brushing out and some tree trimming in places. The well sheltered (it was very windy yesterday) trail is fairly well signed and easy to follow, though shortly before joining the ski trail it does a weird and probably unnecessary dogleg. After completing the 5.1 km official loop I snowshoed the ski trail loop to the southeast. The signpost indicates it’s a 2.7 km loop, however it is actually 3.7 km return from the parking lot. This loop, while good for snowshoeing, is barely skiable these days unless there is a lot of snow. Like the main loop it is badly in need of brushing out. There are a great many small trees and willow branches growing in the middle of the trail. Presently there are three large trees across the trail that you have to manoeuvre under or around.
Combining the two loops (see map) would make an easy 8.3 km loop with about 250 m of height gain. I suggest it’s best done anti-clockwise starting with the ski trail loop. That way you have 3 fairly steep uphills; one on the ski trail and two on the main loop. All the downhills are reasonable.
One of the reasons for the trip was to try out a pair Northern Lite “Elite” snowshoes I have just bought. These 8×25 snowshoes weigh just 35 oz compared with the rented Atlas 25-10 that weigh a hefty 63 oz. We were very impressed with them. The bindings are similar to those used by MSR shoes, except that the heel strap is tape with a pull buckle that is easier to use than the MSR heel strap. Although they have quite aggressive crampons and cleats around the bottom of the frame, Gillean felt that the grip wasn’t as good as the MSR that we rented a couple of weeks ago. She is now trying to decide if the extra grip of a pair of women’s Lightening Ascent 25 shoes is worth the extra 21 oz of weight. We never thought buying snowshoes would be so complicated!