The 19th annual Winter Trails Day experienced a strong turnout at recurring locations. With good early snow in many locations and pent up demand from two previous weak winters, snow sport newcomers were very excited for this year’s Winter Trails.
Despite the cancelation of events due to weather related happenings, several sites saw large turnouts, some with record attendance. “The nice weather and lots of snow combined with a lot of great media attention made this a record year for us”, said Mikaela Swanlund, organizer of the Fort Snelling State Park event in Minneapolis.
Events were canceled in the Pacific North West and California due to low or no snow and in the Mid Atlantic and New England region due to terrible icing followed by driving rain. “It was a tough year due to weather issues forcing many cancelations,” stated Reese Brown, Winter Trails administrator. “We did see many bright pockets with some regular occurring events showing attendance increases of 20 to 30 percent.”
Response from attendees around the country was very positive, not only on the event experience, but also on the sports themselves. “The instructors were great. I learned how to cross country ski!” said an attendee at the Soldier Hollow, Utah event. This sentiment was echoed in many regions as those new to snow sports tried cross country skiing or snowshoeing.
Final participation numbers are still being tallied, but it appears the program received positive attendance gains in areas not adversely affected by weather. Winter Trails continues to fill a need of enticing families and individuals to try snow sports.
Each year, Winter Trails is held in early January and offers children and adults an opportunity to try either or both activities free at participating locations throughout the U.S. Venues are posted at WinterTrails.org. There are still a few events schedule later in the winter season.