With everyone warning of a long, dark winter ahead due to the possibility of further shutdowns, are you wondering what to do with yourself all winter? Give hiking a try! Normally people think of hiking as a summer pastime, but there are many reasons to hike all year round -and you might even end up liking it better in the snow.
If you hear “winter hiking” and start shivering in your boots, you’re not alone. Cold temperatures are a big reason most people steer clear of winter hiking. But the old adage that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing, is true. Here’s a clothing checklist to keep you warm:
· Snow Boots- Make sure they have great traction for icy trails, a waterproof exterior, and a cozy interior.
· Parka- It’s important to invest in a quality, down parka. Plus, they come in bright colors to help you stand out in pictures!
· Sunglasses- Because snow blindness is real.
· Hand and Toe Warmers- You know those little packs you see at the checkout? They really work! And you can tuck them right into your mittens and boots.
· Hat and Gloves- This should go without saying, but your ears and fingers get cold really quickly, so it’s important to keep them covered.
Now that you’re prepared for the coldest possible weather, remember that you want to incorporate layers into your clothing underneath your coat. You might work up a sweat on the hike and want to take a few layers off later!
Enjoy the Advantages of Wintry Treks
It’s true that you won’t see lush foliage or wildflowers on a winter hike, but surrounding yourself with pine trees coated in sugary snow will make you feel like you’ve been dropped into a storybook!
A few other fun advantages of winter hiking include:
· Bird watching is easier with no leaves on the trees and you may spot some seasonal migrants that are new in town!
· Fewer people on the trails means you can immerse yourself in Mother Nature and social distance like a pro.
· Mix it up by trying snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Both are a great workout and most state parks have designated trails.
Take a Trip
If the cold weather just isn’t for you, make like a bird and head south! Check current travel restrictions at your desired destination, but for the most part, you can still travel within the US to get your hiking fix in a warmer climate.
To get started, here are a few hidden-gem locations with warm weather and great hikes:
· Birmingham, Alabama: Check out Vulcan Walking Trail for a great view, or Ruffner Mountain for a nature preserve with cool ruins.
· Phoenix, Arizona: Phoenix Mountains Preserve and South Mountain Park both have summit trails with views, while a hike at Hole in the Rock will take you to an interesting geological feature.
· Jacksonville, Florida: Julington Durbin Creek Nature Preserve has boardwalks on their nature trails and the University of North Florida has trails right in town.
Of course, the list goes on and on! Where will you be hiking this winter?