Snowshoers can enjoy the Swaner Preserve at night during monthly full-moon tours |

Snowshoers can enjoy the Swaner Preserve at night during monthly full-moon tours

Groups will learn about wildlife habits on a wintry habitat

Nature lovers will have a chance to explore the Swaner Preserve at night during three full-moon snowshoe tours. The hikes cover a mile loop, and the groups will discuss wildlife winter adaptation and the history of the 2,000-acre preserve.
Courtesy of the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter

The moon can shed some new light on the 2,000-acre Swaner Preserve at night, and Hunter Kligensmith hopes nature lovers will take advantage of one of three monthly full-moon snowshoe tours.

Tours are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 8 p.m. on Feb. 16, and 8 p.m. on March 18, according to Klingensmith, Swaner EcoCenter’s visitor experience manager.

“The start times get consecutively later, because the moon rises at different times each month,” she said. “Also, the January date falls two days after the actual full moon. We had to do that due to staffing, but it should still be nice and bright out there.”

The goal of these tours is to allow people to experience the preserve at night, Klingensmith said.

“It’s a beautiful time to get out on the preserve,” she said. “The moon is so bright and its light reflects off the snow so you can really see so much.”

Some of the sights may include animals who live on the preserve.

“They tend to be more active in the evening, so the potential of seeing wildlife and evidence of wildlife, like tracks and scat, are high,” Klingensmith said. “I know that elk have an adaptation where they tend to stay out all night under a full moon. It’s easier for them to see predators and find food. So if there are elk out on the preserve we will have a better chance to see them from a safe distance, of course.”

The groups, which are capped at 20 people, will be led by a Swaner naturalist who will discuss wildlife survival methods, according to Klingensmith.

“We will explore why these animals are out more at night, and how they have adapted to outlast these cold winter evenings,” she said. “We will also talk about how the moon and its phases impact our wildlife and preserve. And we’ll talk about the history of the preserve and why it’s so different at night.”

The full-moon snowshoe tours are one of the few times where people can explore the preserve at night, Klingensmith said.

“The other time is during our firefly tours during the warmer months,” she said. “If the January snowshoe tour fills up quickly, we may add second groups for the February and March options.”

Snowshoe tour participants should plan to be outside for about an hour, depending on how cold it is and how the group feels, Klingensmith said.

“We will do a loop from the EcoCenter and back and cover around a mile or less,” she said. “We will stop and look at things along the way and take additional breaks.”

Participants can bring their own snowshoes, or rent them from the EcoCenter, Klingensmith said.

The rentals cost $2.50 for EcoCenter members or $5 for nonmembers, she said.

“We will instruct those who are using snowshoes for the first time about the best way they can use them,” Klingensmith said.

In addition to snowshoes, Klingensmith recommends snowshoers wear warm clothing including snow pants, gloves and hats.

“Snow pants are great, because snowshoes have a tendency to kick up some snow on the back of your legs,” she said. “If you have snow pants that can go over your boots, they will help keep feet and ankles dry.”

Klingensmith also thinks it’s a good idea to wear boots that go up over the ankles.

“We do have some muck boots here that we can lend out, but we don’t have enough for the whole group,” she said. “So if you don’t have any snow boots, you can reach out to us and we can let you know if we have any pairs available to lend out.”

Klingensmith also asks snowshoers to bring water bottles and headlamps.

“Even though it gets cold, if it snows before we head out, the fresh snow can make the trek a little taxing and more difficult than usual and you will get thirsty,” she said. “And while we do anticipate the moon will make things bright enough for us to enjoy the tours, having a headlamp will help if it does get a little cloudy.”

Full Moon Snowshoe Tour

When: 7-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 19

Where: Swaner Preserve, 1250 Center Drive



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