How to Hike Safely This Winter

January 15, 2019
Hiking Woman

Baby, it’s cold outside! But don’t let that keep you inside. Wintertime is a great time to hike the local trails around SpringHouse Village and Fairway Villas for plenty of reasons. Not only are the crowds gone, but the western landscape is beautiful right after a fresh snowfall. With smart planning and the right gear, you could be hiking through a winter wonderland this season.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Dress Like an Onion

Translation: Dress in layers! Temperatures can vary due to sunlight, wind, and changes in elevation, so having a variety of clothing will prevent you from getting too hot or cold. But you always want to wear thick, wool, hiking socks since your feet are the first place you’ll feel the chill. Also, it’s better to wear above-the-ankle hiking boots – it helps prevent snow from getting into your shoe. And make sure your outer layers, including your gloves, are waterproof.

Pack the Right Gear

Some essentials every winter hiker should carry: A trail map, a first aid kit, a backpack loaded up with water and high energy snacks, a pocket knife, trekking poles with snow baskets, an extra pair of thick, wool hiking socks, traction devices (such as crampons) for your boots, a head lamp, and hand and foot warmers. You may want to throw snowshoes into the trunk of your car in case the snow on the trail is deeper than expected. Here’s a complete list of the gear every hiker should carry.

Research the Trail

Go online and google the trail and read what other hikers have recently posted about their journey. Make sure you print out a map of the trail as well. It’s also a good idea to join any local hiking groups on social media, where you can ask questions about a certain hike. Also, there’s always a chance that the access road to the trailhead could be closed or unplowed during the winter.

Check the Weather

Always check the weather, including right before you leave. Winter weather can change on a dime so you’ll want to be prepared for anything. And it’s important to get a complete picture of the conditions of the area you’ll be hiking in, not just the temperature. And remember – the sun sets earlier, so be prepared to turn around a few hours before sunset.

Stay in Contact

It’s always best to hike in a group. But if you’re hiking solo or hiking with your partner or a friend, it’s a good idea to let someone know where you’re going, when you’ll be back, and who to call if they don’t hear back from you at a specified time. You might also download the bSafe app so you can call for help in case of an emergency and the app will show where you are located.

Hydrate and Fuel

This time of year, dehydration is especially dangerous because it can accelerate hypothermia and frostbite, so pack plenty of water. Try to keep the water up against your body to help prevent it from freezing. You could also bring a thermos with a warm beverage like tea or hot cocoa as well. And bring plenty of high-energy food – hiking in the snow burns more calories than hiking in the summer. Also, if you don’t have enough food for the trail you may get cold faster, so avoid complications and pack those snacks.Ready to go? We are too. OakwoodLife communities are close to trails and other wintertime wonders! Please follow these tips to ensure a safe and happy trip out to the outdoors. Who knows, maybe we’ll run into you out on the trails. Happy winter hiking!