There’s no doubt that most people come to Morzine to experience the amazing snowboarding and skiing that the Portes du Solei has to offer, however hidden underneath the colourful maze of amazing pistes and runs, there’s a much more sedate activity you can do - snowshoeing.
We’d had a busy week skiing, snowboarding and generally living the winter holiday lifestyle. We’d enjoyed the après and the over indulgence, but had reached the point where we wanted to try something a little different and get away from the buzz of the resort for a little while. We discussed giving ski de fond [cross country skiing] or split-boarding a go, but our achy legs helped us decide on trying out snowshoeing.
After packing up the car with the dogs and our snowshoes, we headed off down Vallee de la Manche which leads you right to the base of the Hauts Fortes mountain range. We weren’t looking for anything challenging, just to enjoy the snow and the blue skies at a more leisurely pace. We parked up right at the end of the road before it turns into a groomed, off-piste track, and basically headed upwards.
Snowshoes are quite funny to wear, the make you trudge with a slightly wider stance than normal and going up hill actually turned out to be quite a decent work out. They help you to navigate your way through deep snow without sinking at every step. They weren’t 100 percent necessary along this route because in places it was quite well pisted, but the snowshoes did allow us to explore the less well-trodden paths in and out of the woodlands more easily.
The path we took wound us up the road, which leads to the Lac mines d’Or. It’s a beautiful place in the summer with stunning views across Morzine and the surrounding valleys, and in the winter, it seems to be just as spectacular. We climbed for around an hour before reaching the lake and the number of people we passed on route suggests it is a very popular pastime. Many of these were people snowshoeing in large groups with guides and some were skiing and snowboarding off-piste down from Avoriaz. The top is a perfect spot for a picnic but if you’re feeling like exerting yourself a little more you can easily keep climbing.
Snow shoeing is a great way to see some of the most remote areas of the Portes du Soleil and companies across the region offer guiding experiences. You can even snowshoe to an igloo for dinner if you’re looking for something different to do one evening. We passed a restaurant called the "Crapahute" on the way down from our walk. It offers Savoyard specialities like fondue and raclette alongside evening sledging. I’m told it’s an amazing experience so you could combine snowshoeing with that if you were looking for a really memorable evening.
The guided experiences enable you to explore the wilderness and are a available for all fitness and ability levels. We started off at beginners level with our trip up Vallee de la Manche but now that we know what we’re doing we’ll certainly be heading out again!
By the time we’d completed our round trip we’d been out in our snowshoes for around 2 hours. We definitely felt like we’d had a workout but also somehow felt rested and ready to hit the slopes again.
Enjoy finding your snow feet as much as we did!
You can hire snow shoes and walking poles from most ski hire shops in Avoriaz and pick up a map from the tourist office for the trails. It costs around 14 euros a day for the shoes or you can hire equipment and a guide from upwards of 23€ per person per day.