Snowshoes have come a long way since the days of those tennis-racket-looking things strapped to your feet. Today, even a cheap pair can open up access to trails and terrain hard to reach on foot — and those big strides burn more calories than running. Here are three spots with easy rental options and gorgeous scenery.
Burnham Nature Sanctuary
The Chicago Park District’s snowtrekking program offers guided, socially distanced twilight snowshoe hikes on January 21, February 11, and February 18. All-ages hikes are offered on January 9, February 13, and March 13. The park district provides snowshoes at no charge to those who register in advance. 1600 E. 47th St.
Dan Ryan Woods
Extending across a glacial moraine dotted with oak and hickory trees, this forest preserve is a South Side winter treasure, with 257 acres of both flat and hilly landscape to snowshoe, plus sledding and snowboarding runs. Beverly Bike and Ski, just a block south of the preserve, offers rentals for $15 a day. 8700 S. Western Ave.
You can explore virtually all of the arboretum’s 1,700 acres after a snow, but don’t miss the conifer collection, which comprises 40 kinds of spruce, umbrella-shaped Tanyosho pines, and magnificent firs. It’s accessible via a well-marked trail, but off-trail trekking is both allowed and encouraged. Rentals ($15 for children, $20 for adults) are available January 8 to March 12 when there is four or more inches of snow on the ground. 4100 Route 53, Lisle