Don’t equate wintertime with hiking? You don’t know what you’re missing. Don’t let the cold temperatures and the lure of burrowing into your couch with a blanket to hibernate keep you from hiking. If hiking is your passion or if you’ve wanted to give it a go, don’t wait until spring. Winter is actually a perfect time to go hiking. Trails are just as stunning in the wintertime, and you’ll love that the trails are less congested. Winter hiking is also an amazing workout, and it helps beat those winter doldrums. If you need some more incentive, the United States boasts spectacular winter hiking trails for all levels of hikers. Here are ten you should put on your must-hike list this winter.
When winter rolls in, activities like hiking often fall to the wayside because of the temperatures. Winter can be just as much fun outdoors as in. A winter hike brings challenges, beauty, spectacular views, and peacefulness. The United States is home to a multitude of awe-inspiring hiking trails. Not all of them close during the winter, either. Winter can actually be the perfect time to hike since you won’t be battling crowds. Popular trails can get overrun during prime
Donut Falls, Utah
For hikers new to winter hiking, this trail is a perfect pick. It’s a relatively easy hike, but it does get a bit challenging at the end, where you climb up to a cave. The climb is worth it, though, to see the icicles glistening in all their glory. Usually, the hike is a mile and a half, but in winter, the length is more like three and a half miles from start to finish.
Coopers Rock Loop, West Virginia
For a longer hike chock full of beautiful scenery, head to Coopers Rock State Forest near Morgantown, West Virginia. Coopers Rock Loop is considered a mildly challenging hike. The trail is 6.8 miles in length and takes almost three hours to complete. A perk of this trail besides the views is that it is dog friendly. Just keep your pooch on a leash.
Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
This park is an extremely popular spot. Winter is definitely its downtime, though, making it the ideal place for hiking. The Trail of 10 Falls takes you past all of Silver Falls State Park’s waterfalls. It’s nine miles long, and you’ll need about five hours to complete it. So, get an early start. As with any winter hike, dress properly. Be prepared for muddy and ice spots along the trail.
Tallulah Gorge, Georgia
For a Southern winter trail, check out Tallulah Gorge. This Georgia state park houses a two-mile-long gorge that is 1,000 feet deep. Trails of varying degrees of difficulty wind the gorge’s rim. Permits are required to access the gorge’s floor but depend on weather and water flow conditions. The Stoneplace Trail is the longest, with a 10-mile roundtrip hike. It is considered a challenging hike with a moderate to difficult rating. For an easy trail, try the three-mile Bill and Dustie MacKay. The South Rim Trail includes five overlooks and is a short but moderately challenging hike.
High Point State Park, New Jersey
The Garden State may be known for its Jersey Shore, but it also has quite a few hiking trails that are worth the trip. High Point State Park offers 50 trails ranging in distance from one to 4.4 miles. A hike through the park also includes 18 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Scenery includes a cedar swamp, forests, mountain ridges, fields, and wetlands.
Whiteface Mountain, New York
Experience winter hikers looking for a challenge may want to hike Whiteface Mountain. Whiteface is known for its skiing, with nearby Lake Placid serving as a winter wonderland. A winter hike on Whiteface Mountain will include snow and severe temps. Gear and extras such as snowshoes and microspikes are a must. Winter hikes typically begin from the Atmospheric Science and Research Center and are over six miles round trip.
Battle Creek Regional Park, Minnesota
Native Minnesotans embrace the winter months, meaning there is quite a bit of year-round hiking. Battle Creek Regional Park has 92 miles of trails. Most of the trails are rated as steep. Trails vary between packed and paved. During the winter, it also offers a winter recreation area that is popular with sledders. This area is free for hikers and snowshoers.
Yosemite Valley Loop, California
National Parks are popular destinations in the summer but not so much in the winter. Winter is a beautiful time to explore California’s stunning Yosemite National Park. Some of the more difficult Yosemite hiking trails are closed during the winter, but the Yosemite Valley Loop offers a scenic
Great Smokey Mountain National Park, Tennessee, and North Carolina
This is another national park that gets a lot of visitors during prime times like summer, spring, and fall. Great Smokey Mountain National Park also offers a multitude of hiking trails. Trails vary in difficulty and length. In winter, hikers are treated to frozen falls, stunning mountain views, and more.
Ozark Highlands Trail, Arkansas
Fans of the Netflix series Ozark may want to head down to Arkansas to explore the Ozark Highlands Trail. Since it’s located in the mid-South, the Ozark Highland Trails is a popular destination for hikers beginning in fall and stretching through spring. The trail features over 250 miles of hiking through the Boston Mountains and Buffalo River.
For outdoor lovers, any time of year is ideal for hiking. Winter
- Cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and more: 6 unique winter activities you simply have to try
- Ski trail ratings, explained (and why most ratings are actually BS)
- Yellowstone National Park tip: Don’t dangle your baby near an elk like the guy in this video
- Lace up the boots and hit the trail with these winter season hiking tips
- Snowboarding tips: Set your snowboard stance for a winter of shredding