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Winter Hiking: The Forgotten Trails

29 Nov 2017, 4:20 pm

Just because the snow flies and the temperatures drop, doesn’t mean it’s time to give up hiking for the year.

In fact, some of my best hiking in the past year was in the dead of winter!

#sundog #minnesota #winter #subzero

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Why Hike in the Winter

Winter hiking is unlike hiking just about any other time during the year. The bitter cold offers an experience you just can’t find during any other season.

  1. The landscape changes— Trees drop leaves, snow covers the ground, bodies of water change– places you know take on an entirely new look and feel.
  2. Wildlife is different— Whether it’s migration or different behavioral patterns, winter brings out an entirely new side of wildlife.
  3. Seclusion— Quite possibly the best part of winter hiking. Most people just don’t do it, so you get the whole trail to yourself!

But just like anything else great in this world, you’ll have to work a little harder to safely reap the benefits of this winter bounty.

Safety First

A lot of the preparation is similar to that of hiking in the summer.

  • Weather-appropriate clothes. Layers are your friend, they help when your body heats up during physical exertion. But be sure to pack a waterproof shell, warm socks, hat, gloves/mittnes, and whatever other winter garment you cannot live without.
  • The right show/boot. Plan for snow or slippery conditions while out on the trail.
  • Sunscreen. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t burn! In fact, the snow reflects more light– making winter a perfect time to wear sunscreen.
  • Water. Cold temperatures don’t mean you need less water. Still plan on similar amounts to what you would bring on a summer hike.
  • Food. Your body burns more calories at cooler temperatures, so plan on eating a bit more than you would planted on your couch if you want to stay energized.

Any boy scout will tell you, this list is just the start.
A proper first aid kit, the right pack, a map, and a whistle aren’t a bad idea on longer hikes.

Where to Go

Start small, start local.
Try it out. Go around your home in an area you are familiar with to get the hang of things before you tackle something like a National Park.

Just jump on the park’s website and make sure the trails are open year round!
After All, the winter-world is your oyster.

Happiness is a pow day in the trees. . . . #skiing #powder #pow #ski

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For WeatherNation — Meteorologist Jeremy LaGoo

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