Winter Trails reported that the 2008 edition of its program attracted more than 11,250 participants at approximately 80 locations in the U.S.

That is more than a 25% increase over last year when a little over 8,000 attended.  The largest event of the season, a snowshoe-only event held on February 16 at Estes Park, CO, drew more than 1,000 participants. Winter Trails is a free snowshoe and cross country ski demo organized each year to attract those new to snow sports. It is coordinated by SnowSports Industries America (SIA) in conjunction with the Cross Country Ski Areas Association (CCSAA) and the American Hiking Society (AHS).

“We did much better than last year and we came close to our record year in 2006 when a little over 12,000 people participated in a Winter Trails event,” said Mary Jo Tarallo, director of Education for SIA. “We feel good about the participation. We limited the number of venues this year to 85 compared to 120 in 2006 because we felt that we could manage and service the program better with fewer locations.  We actually wound up with 80 locations due to uncooperative weather in New England on January 12, the day when most Winter Trails events took place.”

The Estes Park Winter Trails is the largest event of the series.  Reps and staff from Atlas, Kahtoola, MSR, Redfeather and Tubbs provided the snowshoes. The Estes Park Chamber of Commerce and business members support their Winter Trails event and promote it as a way to attract customers over the President’s Weekend. REI stores in Denver, Boulder and Ft. Collins provide staffing and organization for the day and help organize a President’s Challenge Clinic along with volunteers from MEDX, a medical and health clinic in Estes, Park.  Other volunteer organizations that participated in 2008 included: Grand Shelters, who constructed igloo demonstrations, displays by the Larimer County Search and Rescue Group, the Environmental Learning Center from Colorado State University, the Back County Ski Alliance and the Colorado Mountain Club.

“We had a beautiful day for Winter Trails 2008 in Rocky Mountain National Park with blue skies and fresh snow,” said Ken Arnold, owner of Deer Crest Lodge and co-chair of the Estes Park Chamber of Commerce Winter Trails organizing committee. “By the look of the smiling kids coming back, they had a good time. Thanks to the Chamber for sponsoring the 13th annual event and to volunteers, company reps, REI and SIA for helping to make the day a success and for bringing more than 1,000 people to Estes Park for a snowshoe experience”.