Prepare for the Season - Hiking in Cold Weather
There is a Norwegian quote, “There is no bad weather, just bad clothes!” As the winter weather comes, it’s incredibly important to make sure you are dressed well for the elements to ensure your enjoyment and safety in the woods.
Follow these tips and you will have a safe and enjoyable time on the trails:
- Dress in layers so as you hike and warm up you can remove some, then put them back on when you get back to the car and your body starts to cool.
- Avoid cotton layers. Cotton when wet can super chill your body and create the environment for hypothermia. Put wool or synthetic layers close to the skin to ensure your safety.
- Wear thick synthetic or wool socks. Even if your feet get wet, these fabrics can help you get out of the woods safely and comfortably until you can dry off. They also help keep your feet dry if your feet sweat a lot in cold conditions.
- Pack extra items like hats, socks, and mittens. If you arrive at a trailhead and it’s colder than you thought, you will be prepared for these conditions and still have an enjoyable safe hike. (If you are hiking with friends who are not prepared you can help them have a good time too!)
- Bring a flashlight or headlamp. The days are still getting shorter and having a light will ensure you can find your way back if the trail was longer than you thought and dusk is approaching.
- Bring snacks. We burn lots more calories in cold weather and having a snack can help keep you strong on the trail. If there’s an emergency, you will also have sustenance if you get stuck in the woods.
- Let people know where you are going and when you plan to get home. Some preserves don’t have cell service. If you get into an emergency while hiking alone, someone back home can alert the police and MHLC staff to make sure you are taken safely out of the woods.
- Don’t hike alone. Taking friends not only helps make the trip more fun, but it can also ensure if one of you gets hurt, the other can go get help.
- Bring snowshoes or microspikes when ice and snow are present. This will protect you from falling and set you up for a successful trip even in winter conditions.
We don’t anticipate folks getting hurt, however, winter conditions with ice and snow can make hiking more strenuous. We hope this list can help you prepare for this change of season to keep you outside and happy on our trails.