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Winter Trail Running: Robust opportunities in Anaconda, MT!

  • By Cody Bomberger, Eliot Lee & Jenette Bomberger, Anaconda Trail Society & Winter Trail Running Enthusiasts



When the snow starts piling up in town and in the mountains, many people transition to indoor workouts, especially during the work week. However, another great fitness activity during this time is winter trail running. Winter trail running is incredibly rewarding, and once one figures out the basics, it’s simple. One can usually start right out their front door! 


Trail running in general is a phenomenal way to experience the mountain lakes, passes, and peaks that surround Anaconda. The Anaconda, Pioneer, and Flint Creek mountain ranges all offer robust single-track and two-track opportunities. And don’t be fooled. Trail running also involves a lot of walking, accommodating varying paces and physical fitness levels.


Oftentimes, a trail run consists of hiking the uphills and running the downhills. Once a good fitness level is established, trail running is a great way to experience more of the local mountain ranges during the short summer season. 



Just as hiking changes with the seasons, so does trail running. During the spring and fall, higher elevation trails are often snow-covered. True winter is even more challenging. However, there are a number of accessible trails directly around Anaconda! The trails on the C and A Hills on the southern edge of Anaconda are often packed down by a few, hardy individuals. However, after a lot of snow or a windy night, these trails can be completely covered in snow. But that doesn’t mean one can’t still “run” them! Winter trail running is all about evaluating and embracing the conditions.


Cold Temperatures


Be bold, start cold! Of course within reason. Running in snow is a high output activity--one will warm up quickly. Sweating too much too soon can make someone pretty cold later on in the run. Layering is important! As one warms up, delayering is an effective way to manage body temperatures. 


Deep Snow


While post-holing is a phenomenal workout, it is certainly slow going and can be really frustrating! Motorized trails and dirt roads are good alternatives to breaking trail, as motorized use often packs the snow down enough to support running. Regardless, a powder day is a powder day and sometimes one just has to laugh and embrace slowing down. Running snowshoe and snowshoe racing have become quite popular and offer a means to run through deep snow. 


Gear


One of the beautiful things about running is that in its simplest form, all one needs is a pair of sneakers. That being said, it’s definitely more enjoyable in the winter when one has the right gear. 


Gaiters

Small gaiters help immensely in keeping one's feet warm and stopping ice balls from forming on one's socks.

Traction

Trail shoes typically have good enough tread for running on snow, but for really icey days additional traction might be needed.

Vest or Waist Pack

For longer runs, the option of carrying water, food or additional layers is useful. Don’t forget sunglasses on those bright days!


Ultimately, trail running allows one to move through the mountains with a heightened awareness of one's own self. Nothing hits home quite like cresting a mountain pass and feeling the weight of gravity on the downward side, helping one’s feet pick up a little bit faster. 





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