Playing in the powder is even more fun with your best friend.
Let the dogs lead the way with canine-propelled skijoring.
Pups are a huge part of our families, our outdoor experiences and our overall happiness. Here’s where to adventure with them, tire them out and leave them begging for more this spring.
The Aspen Snowmass Nordic system sprawls about 60 glorious miles of free trails, seven of which are dog-friendly. Glide and skate along the popular quick-lap Marolt or Bernese Boulevard trails from downtown Aspen, or go big with a 20-mile trek to Basalt on the Rio Grande Trail.
Basically cross-country skiing while being pulled by one to three dogs, this Norwegian winter sport (dogsaspen.com) can be done on any type of ski—cross-country, skate, classic or touring—and in deep snow or on groomed trails. The skier and dog work as a team, tethered by a hip belt, tug line and harness. Aspen Animal Shelter director Seth Sachson invites skijoring novices and enthusiasts to stop in to learn more about lessons, literature and
its full line of rental equipment.
All four Aspen Snowmass resorts allow uphilling—hiking up the mountain on specialized skis or a split board with free-heel touring bindings. Snowmass, Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands are the only resorts that allow dogs to skin with their owners. To get in on this incredible cardio workout and thrilling after-hours resort experience, use a leash or harness; pick up after your pet; and obey the rules: no dogs during operational hours (7:45am to 4:45pm). For more secluded touring options, head to lower Independence Pass. The road is closed 5 miles east of Aspen for the winter, but recreationalists can seek out the Weller Lake trailhead on foot.
Hiking and Snowshoeing
Packed-down trails, off-leash pups and throngs of dog lovers await on Smuggler Mountain Road (fs.usda.gov). Soak in sunshine and sweeping views on this 3-mile round-trip path, and tote up a minisled for the way down. Pack the snowshoes and energy bars, and seek out Difficult Creek Trail east of Aspen on Highway 82 for deeper snow and tranquility.