Snowshoe walks expand winter activity options

Maddie Forshee

As notorious as Grand Valley State University is for its long, cold winters, it opens up many options for people to take part in winter activities. To avoid the high costs of hitting the slopes elsewhere, a more local option is being offered to faculty and staff this winter: snowshoeing.

The Outdoor Adventure Center has been offering their weekly snowshoe walks for the past three years, open to any faculty or staff member who enjoys snowshoeing or wants to learn.

“There are a lot of services geared toward students, but faculty don’t necessarily have that option to take advantage of similar things,” said Joe Bitley, manager of the OAC. “This is my way of offering that to them.”

The OAC had decided to use the extra snowshoes from previous outdoor skills classes and turn it into an outdoor leisurely activity. While participants can use the snowshoes provided, they are more than welcome to bring their own – and they do.

“As time went on, (participants were) people who already had snowshoes and just wanted an excuse to get out and walk more often,” Bitley said.

The weekly walks are moving to different locations this semester, alternating between the Allendale Campus, Aman Park and Grand River Park. According to Bitley, there was only one trail that they could walk in the time allowed, and it became repetitive to keep doing it again and again.

“In order to be practical for faculty, we really only have a solid hour of time before it gets dark,” Bitley said.

He added that the change of scenery will be welcome, and that it will continue to happen in the future.

Despite the frigid temperatures this semester, Bitley said that he doesn’t expect to cancel a walk due to low temperatures because, to him, there is no such thing as too cold or too snowy.

“There’s no such thing as a bad temperature, only bad clothing,” he said. “If you know how to dress for it, you’ll never have bad weather.”

Even if a faculty or staff member has no previous experience, they are encouraged to try snowshoeing as something new which could result in making new friends and networking with other faculty and staff members who share a common interest.

Though the attendance has been pretty consistent with each walk, Bitley hopes to continue growing the group over the next year and to start marketing opportunities for faculty and staff to get more involved.

Snowshoe walks occur every Thursday at 5:15 p.m. beginning Jan. 15. For more information, visit

[email protected]