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Explore these scenic hiking trails this winter

Explore these amazing US winter hiking trails

solo hiker taking in the view along trail in winter
Greg Shield / Unsplash

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.

winter camping hiking snow mountain
Ahmad Raza Qazafi / Shutterstock

Winter hiking trails

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 hiking seasons like fall and spring. If you’re looking to plan a winter hike, set your sights on these trails.

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 hiking opportunity. The Valley Loop is almost six miles long and meanders along the valley’s floor, giving hikers a different perspective on the iconic national park. Even though the look is rated as an easy hike, poles are recommended since the trail is typically icy in winter.

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. Hiking in Great Smokey Mountain National Park does offer some challenges. Weather can change dramatically and quickly during the day. So, hikers need to be prepared.

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. Hiking trails are over rough terrain and feature fantastic scenery. This trail is recommended for experienced hikers.

winter camping hiking snow backpack gear
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Winter hiking destinations

For outdoor lovers, any time of year is ideal for hiking. Winter hiking presents different obstacles because of the temperatures and the changes in terrain. So, ensure you’re prepared and appropriately dressed in the right hiking gear. To expand your hiking horizons this winter, look at these ten popular winter hiking destinations. There is something for every hiker, from the novice to the seasoned winter hiker looking for a challenge.

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