Many outdoor enthusiasts associate hiking with spring, summer, and fall…but hesitate to head outdoors during the winter months. If this describes you, it’s time for an attitude adjustment. The truth is winter hiking offers a wealth of perks…including virtually deserted trails (because everyone else apparently thinks hiking stops in the winter) and breathtaking wintry views.
To provide you with a bit of inspiration we’ve gathered a list of must-see trails across the U.S. that are particularly lovely during the winter months.
(It’s important to note—winter hiking sometimes requires specialized equipment in the form of microspikes, snowshoes, and skis, depending on the weather and precipitation. It’s always a good idea to check with park managers to see what you’ll need)
This 4.6-mile out-and-back trail sees its fair share of foot traffic from May – October, which means you’ll likely have the trail to yourself in winter.
Try to visit December – January when you’ll have the best chance of seeing a migrating pod of gray whales from an outcropping that sits above the water.
It’s hard to find the words that adequately describe the beauty of ZNP in winter, with all that stunning red rock capped in snow.
Timbercreek Overlook Trail is an easy 1-mile hike that follows a small ridge and offers hikers breathtaking views of the Kolob Canyons and Pine Valley Mountains. And, if you’re looking for a longer hike, hit the Taylor Creek trail, a 5-mile roundtrip hike which takes you through a box canyon and an impressive double arch. Ice is common throughout the park during the winder months, so be sure to pack your traction devices.
This moderately-difficult 1.2-mile hike offers you the benefit of low traffic while showing off many of the topographic features Garden of the Gods is famous for.
You’ll have to access the Cabin Canyon Trail from another trail—either the Siamese-Twins or Palmer Trails will get you there—but the hike is worth the effort with some stunning views of Pikes Peak.
The Cumberland Trail is a work in progress and, upon its completion, will offer outdoor enthusiasts an impressive 280 miles of continuous trails to enjoy. But there are plenty of short hikes here that are gorgeous during the winter months.
The Piney River section of the trail offers a moderate 8.5 – mile out-and-back hike that showcases lovely forest views and the near constant rush of the river that runs alongside the trail.
The Cascade Mountain hike is a moderate 4.8-mile up-and-back climb to the peak. It’s not an overly taxing hike, and you’re likely to have the trail to yourself during the winter.
The views at the peak are second to none so be sure to bring a camera along…you won’t be sorry.
Don’t let the cooling of temperatures or falling of snow deter you from hiking this winter. The truth is, the very weather that others avoid is what will provide the low crowds and spectacular views you’ll enjoy as you hike through your very own winter wonderland.