Best Places to Hike in the Winter

By Trevor Onions , last updated December 2, 2011

Discovering the best places to hike in the winter is a great way to squeeze added enjoyment out of an icy season. Winter hiking often gets overlooked by enthusiasts due to the challenge presented by Mother Nature. However, some places are fairly safe to go hiking during the winter, and they offer an experience unlike any other. Visit these exciting locales to discover an outdoor world that you might not have ever seen.

Midwestern Hiking Around Madison

There are plenty of excellent places to go winter hiking in the Midwest, but using Madison, Wisconsin as a starting point gives you the cream of the crop. The city has several alluring winter trails that allow hikers to choose their difficulty level. For instance, the Tamarack Loop offers a shorter distance that's sufficient to introduce novice winter enthusiasts to the practice.

Alternatively, more advanced winter hikers can choose trails from the Zillmer Loop system. This extensive network offers nearly ten miles of paths for hikers and cross country skiers. With well marked signs and a close proximity to the city of Madison, winter hiking in this area provides one of the safest ways to challenge yourself. Note that winter hiking is prohibited during extreme cold or heavy snowfalls.

Winter Hiking at the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon presents itself as a popular tourist destination during the warmer months, but its hiking trails are just as attractive in the winter. Hiking along the steep and ascending trails this iconic landmark provides is a challenge only suitable for moderate to advanced hikers. Yet, the rewards of completing the arduous journey are plentiful. By ascending nearly seven thousand feet, you can look out across the Canyon's wintery landscape in awe.

Safety precautions should be taken extremely seriously if you plan on hiking at the Grand Canyon. Be sure to dress appropriately for the cold, and bring along emergency medical gear. Reserve a quality winter shelter well in advance. Although the area isn't as crowded as it is during the warmer months, tourists are always streaming in.

Ascending Mount Washington

New Hampshire's Mount Washington is a fantastic winter hiking option for New England residents. Around this mountainous area, you'll find plenty of trails that vary their difficulty, not unlike the Madison system. You can choose to go up the mountain and enjoy breathtaking views, or stick to the low level trails to avoid the slight risk of avalanches and steep climbing.

To get the most out of your trip, pack accordingly, and plan on securing lodging in advance. Mount Washington is a lesser known resort area than many others, but it still attracts visitors, even during the off season. Luckily, shelter and transportation costs are a good deal lower than alternative hiking sites in the New England region.

Knowledge and preparation are the true keys to unlocking a joyous winter hiking trip. These licenses to experience thrills aren't terribly difficult to pick up, if you're willing to put in a little effort. Plan your trip in advance and put safety at the top of the list. By doing it this way, you'll experience a hiking trip that will leave you coming back for more.

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