Five Tips for Winter Hiking

January 22, 2024  |  Hiking, Winter
Man hikes through winter woods with trekking poles.

By Kelly Volz for the January 24, 2024 issue of Now in Nature.

Do you love hiking but hate winter? Here are some tips for enjoying your hike, even when it’s a bit nippy outside.
Warm hiking boots and socks.

1. First and foremost, wear layers and warm boots!

Feel too cold in one pair of pants? Wear two! Maybe even three. Wear warm socks, as well as multiple layers under your jacket. Bundle up until you feel like the Michelin Man. But, make sure you can easily take off any layers that become too warm during your hike. You’ll quickly figure out the amount of layers that’s right for you the more you hike in cold weather.
Traction cleats while hiking in the snow.

2. Attach traction cleats to your boots.

These can save your behind, quite literally. Snow can be slick going downhill, and creek crossings can get icy. These will give you just enough extra traction to make your hike less worrisome and more enjoyable.
Map of Rowe Woods with notes.

3. Make a plan.

Plan a shorter than normal route for yourself, and don’t wait until you’re halfway through to realize you’re way too cold. By the time you reach the halfway point of your hike, there’s no turning back, you’ll have to keep going. Check in with your body a quarter of the way in. How do you feel? Are your fingers already throbbing popsicles? Turn around now or you’re going to have a bad time.
Man used trekking poles while hiking in the snow.

4. Bring the right equipment!

Use trekking poles or a good old fashioned hiking stick to help you on downhill slopes or at creek crossings. They’ll help stabilize you and keep you from toppling. No one wants to topple, especially onto ice.
Woman looks through her binoculars in the snow.

5. Enjoy the view!

Even though it’s chilly, don’t forget to pause and enjoy the sights. Winter is the best time to view wildlife since the trees are bare, and snow brings that wonderful silence. If you don’t pause to appreciate it, you’ll miss half of the beauty.