Winter Hiking Destinations Worth Visiting This SeasonTraditional outdoor enthusiasts hang up their hiking boots at the first sign of frost, thinking that hiking season is over when warm weather has departed. What they don’t know is that winter hiking can be an incredible experience. Apart from transforming a summer hiking spot into a majestically beautiful white landscape, winter sheds more light on views that one might not see during the summer. Bonus: since most people stay indoors, trails are less crowded in winter.
If you’re considering a winter hiking trip, here are some spots that you may want to check out across the US:
Washington: Mount Rainier National Park, Mazama Ridge
Mazama Ridge is a popular snowshoeing destination during the winter. This 1.8-mile wonderland is your key to a broad ridge that sits above Paradise with views of the Tatoosh Range, Stevens Canyon, and Mount Rainier. If you plan to conquer this place, be sure to arm yourself with snowshoes that can help you make your way through the deep snow.
Utah: Bryce Canyon, Fairyland Loop
Want to experience and capture Instagram-worthy pictures while enjoying a fresh coat of snow under your feet? If yes, then Bryce Canyon is the spot for you. This canyon boasts some of the most interesting rock formations while providing ample challenge to climbers.
The Fairyland Loop Trail includes a portion of the Rim Trail from Sunset Point to Fairyland Point. This climb is considered strenuous due to the trail’s length and multiple elevation changes. Nonetheless, it’s worth the effort and can be conquered within 4-5 hours round trip over its 8-mile distance.
Arizona: Sedona, Bear Mountain Trail
If you want to check out Bear Mountain Trail but can’t bear the sweltering hot summer blaze f Arizona, then hike it during winter. Apart from boasting a scenic view when covered in snow, hikers are relatively few during winter. Considered one of Arizona’s hardest short hikes, you surely want to add this to your hiking bucket list.
Illinois: Garden of the Gods
A trip to the Shawnee National Forest is not complete without enjoying the scenic landscape of the Garden of the Gods. Its dramatic rock formations formed during the last Ice Age are enhanced by the frost crystals, dagger icicles, and a blanket of snow that covers it during the winter months. This spot is a perfect destination for both photographer and hikers who want to feast their eyes on some spectacular winter eye-candy views.
Florida: Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida National Scenic Trail
This trail stretches from Gulf Island National Seashore to Big Cypress National Preserve at 1,400 miles. Beginning in the Everglades at Big Cypress National Preserve, this hike is more forgiving in winter when there are less bugs and lower humidity, as well as more bearable temperatures than the Florida summer.
Washington: Olympic National Forest Ellinor Trail
Mount Ellinor Trail is a 6.2-mile round-trip trail that offers an unbeatable view of the Olympics and mountain goats. There is also a great view of Lake Cushman that one can enjoy during the climb. It provides many activity options and is best traversed from March until November, but those up for a winter adventure will be rewarded with unbeatable wintry views.
The hike is a never-ending climb with 3,300 feet in three miles. Nonetheless, it has a low top elevation of 5,900 feet which keeps turbulent weather off. Be ready with your crampons and ice axes. Upper trailheads may require you to get a recreational pass, but not the lower trail.
Texas: Big Bend National Park, South Rim Loop
Big Bend National Park is best hiked on the South Rim Loop. It can be conquered via long day hikes with hikers starting early via the Laguna Meadows Trail. This is a challenging trail which showcases the wooded Boot Canyon and vistas of Chihuahuan Desert. Big Ben is an ideal hike during the winter where the chances of thunderstorms and excessive heat are low.
Colorado: Rocky Mountain National Park, Odessa Lake
Rocky Mountain National Park is an escape for those who love snow-covered aspens and long to see the high-alpine Odessa Lake. Hikers can start from Bear Lake parking lot and hike their way via Flattop Mountain Trail to the Fern-Odessa Lake Trail.
Washington: Methow Valley
Methow Valley offers a perfect venue for hikers who want to experience their first winter overnight. Just take the low-angle terrain where there is reliable snow coverage and remove trail-breaking from your itinerary. After your hike, you can spend the evening in comfort at The Rendezvous Hut that offers five shelters that can accommodate 8-10 people- perfect for a group of friends or family.
The key to an enjoyable winter hike lies in one’s ability to plan. Don’t let winter keep you inside - explore the great outdoors and experience the magic it offers every season.