1. Bring a pair of Yaktrax. Usually only around $20, Yaktrax are super lightweight making them an easy addition to your hiking pack. They quickly slip onto the bottom of your boots and can be a life saver offering traction on icy trails and walkways.
2. Check out hikes with views that may normally be obscured by tree cover. Winter is a great time to hike on a trail that is lined with trees that have dropped their leaves for the season, offering a different perspective on a trail you may have done many times or a opening up a viewpoint that may have been covered by leaves most of the year.
3. Explore frozen waterfalls. I love waterfalls and I love them even more when they freeze over during the winter. Often times just the outside of the waterfall freezes over with water still flowing underneath the top layer which is simply beautiful. If you are lucky you may even catch an ice climber on the waterfall slowing making their way to the top of the falls.
4. Wear layers. Clothing has come a long way in keeping us toasty warm even during the coldest months. Clothing with reflective layers on the inside will keep your valuable heat inside while often still letting your breath when it needs to. I usually wear a synthetic base layer, long sleeve thermal layer, fleece if needed, and then a jacket with a reflective layer on top. As I warm up I remove layers to avoid sweating too much which can often lead you to get cold very quickly.
5. Be aware of length of hike with shorter days. It is always a great idea to choose shorter hikes during the winter so you can make sure you are off the trail before the sun sets. Even better is giving yourself an hour of buffer before the sun sets to allow you to do most of your drive home while there is still daylight, as you will most likely be tired after hiking and adding nighttime driving on top of that can be risky.
Our resident Dynamic Operations Guru, Ben Sander, is a seasoned veteran of hiking. He's also lived in some chilly places with ample winter hiking options. He's got some tips we are pretty essential to a great winter hike.
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