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Commission offers snowshoes for rent at beach kiosk

With a long and isolating winter ahead, many residents may be looking for activities that get them out of the house and exploring recreational options. The Parks and Recreation Commission has the solution. Now residents can rent snowshoes from the self-service kiosk at the town beach and enjoy the snow, hiking the many trails Harvard has to offer.

At the commission’s Monday night meeting, Parks and Recreation Chair Bob O’Shea explained how the rental service will run. The kiosk is set up in much the same way as it was for the summer boating rentals, but kayaks and canoes will be replaced for the winter with snowshoes and poles in a variety of sizes for both adults and kids. O’Shea added that the kiosk has also been outfitted with a pop-up tent to keep out the snow and a large rock to serve as a bench for putting on snowshoes.

To rent a pair of snowshoes, he said, residents can simply pay online at the kiosk and pick up their gear there as well. For a four-hour rental, the price is $10 for adults and $5 for children. For a full-day rental, the price is $20 for adults and $10 for children.

“This is a perfect year to try snowshoeing if you’ve never tried it before because it’s a good sport for social distancing,” O’Shea said, noting that the town webpage for the rental program has lots of resources, such as Harvard trail maps and snowshoe safety tips. In particular, the Parks and Rec commissioners recommend two trails that both start at the rental kiosk itself. One is a half-mile loop that begins at the kiosk and then follows Pond Road and the trail along Whitman Road. The other is a nearly two-mile trail that begins at the kiosk and ends at Barba’s Point, following Pond Road before crossing the Bromfield baseball field, and passing the tennis courts in between.

Residents are free to snowshoe along any of the trails in Harvard, however, O’Shea said. He explained that the resource page includes the maps of these two recommended paths as well as links to other trail guides, including guides to the many conservation trails throughout town and the snowmobile trails that pass through Carlson Orchards. There is also a link to a recent Boston Globe article recommending the trails at the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge.

Anticipating the popularity of the snowshoe rental program, the commission is looking for equipment donations. The town has purchased 10 adult-sized poles and 20 pairs of composite snowshoes in large and medium adult sizes and child sizes. The commission has also recently received a donation of three aluminum-frame snowshoes in adult sizes. O’Shea said he hopes to be able to provide residents with a variety of choices. To donate snowshoes, contact O’Shea at roshea01451@gmail.com.

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