Snowshoe Outing: Kaeden Snowshoe Trail: China Ridge Trails
China Ridge Recreation Area is a great area for winter activities, amongst them is snowshoeing. The Area is located about 9 kms from town on the West China Creek Road. It is simple to get there; follow the road to Coalmont, turn on West China Creek Road, follow this road until it finishes at a parking lot and at the China Ridge Longhouse, a facility open to the public located at the trailhead. The main winter activity at China Ridge is cross country skiing. The trails are groomed and the public is reminded to use these trails only for skiing. There are separate trails for snowshoeing and for skiing with dogs.
The trailhead for the Kaeden Snowshoe Trail starts at the fence to the extreme right; a sign showing a snowshoer marks the beginning. This trail is definitely separate from the ski trail or the dog trail. A steep beginning, it eventually levels out. This trail crosses the main ski trails and care must be taken to do as little damage as possible to the ski trails. The Kaeden Snowshoe Trail meanders through a wooded area parallel to the China Loop Cross Country Ski Trail. Trees bowed by snow posed a fantastic winter scene. The terrain is somewhat varied making it more interesting that just flat expanses. Track evidence of deer, elk, snowshoe hare and shredded bark tree marking showing antler rubbing activity were seen; as well, Pine Grosbeaks were spotted along the way. A person can cut the trip short by taking the short cut and returning back to the parking lot or continuing on to China Loop Shelter.
Here, the tour leader, John Henry, had a fire going, having skied to the site prior and then returning to greet the group doing the hike. Arriving too early for lunch the group decided to add an additional loop that brought them back to the shelter to have lunch. From the shelter, it is possible to do a return trip using a different trail that also parallels the ski trail. The tranquility and the beauty of nature makes this outing a worthwhile venture. The snowshoe trail is 4 kilometres in total and takes about 2 hours to do.