Guess what, Carleton? It’s still winter outside. Although it might be wearing on you, the winter is still a great time to get out and enjoy the Arb. When most people think of the Arb in winter, their minds goes straight to skiing. Although this is a great way to get out and see the Arb, I don’t think you’ve truly experienced the Arb in winter until you explore it on a pair of snowshoes. Unlike Nordic skis, snowshoes are not confined to the trails and this greater mobility allows you to experience the Arb in a totally different way. During the winter, the brush and grass that usually makes sections of the Arb difficult to travel through have been tamed by the snow and the winter season.
This opens up a large portion of the Arb to further exploration and fun. Specifically, the low lying areas adjacent to the Cannon River really open up during the winter and make for some really interesting snowshoeing. This area is completely laced with animal tracks left behind by critters drinking at the river.
You can find the tracks of deer, rabbits, and pheasants, just to name a few. The interior of prairies also take on a new quiet and solemn character that needs to be experienced in order to truly comprehend this time of year.
Finally, snowshoes allow you to get a closer look at the birds that winter in the Arb. Look for Red-Bellied Woodpeckers pecking away at the trunks of mature trees in the forested sections of the Arb and Black-Capped Chickadees anywhere there is decent brush cover. Take some time during this mid-term break and go explore the Arb on a pair of snowshoes. I promise you won’t regret it.