Winter hikers in bright sunshine
Everything To Know Before Taking A Winter Hike In A National Park
Choosing the right national park for your hike will take some research. An excellent place to start your search is the NPS's Find a Park website.
Consider your hiking experience — winter hiking on the East Coast is not for newbie hikers. You should also track the overall trail conditions of your park.
Winter hikers should always exercise caution. Research weather conditions, go over the park's rules and regulations, and follow them.
Safety Tips
Specifically, in the wintertime, hikers must stay off the ice, keep to the trail, stay hydrated, bring snacks, and stay clear of any wildlife while visiting.
Hiking comes with its share of potential hazards. Hikers need to be mindful of frostbite, hypothermia, getting lost, unexpected weather changes, and avalanches.
To combat the cold, hike in the daylight, dress warm, stay dry, and stay low. Stick to the trail, follow the map, and bring your GPS device to avoid getting lost.
Have a plan for avalanches — move out of its path, stick to the trees, and stay calm. Wear moisture-wicking materials and bring emergency shelter and a headlamp.
Before hiking, assess how far you can hike without snow and ice and divide that number in half. If you can do a 6-mile trail in amenable weather, try hiking 3 miles in winter.
Then, start looking at the park's trails. Focus on open popular footpaths, as they are better maintained, and others will have paved the way for you in the snow.
Hikers need good quality hiking boots that are well-insulated and waterproof as well as wool hiking socks. For icier conditions, consider bringing crampons or microspikes.
Other must-have items include an avalanche beacon, a compressive first aid kit, an ice axe, tinted goggles, trekking poles, a whistle, and an all-purpose knife or tool.