America’s Best and Most Awesome Winter Hikes
While the summer and fall months are peak seasons for hiking, some trails are at their best during the colder months. Here are some amazing winter hikes for you to try out.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
A very popular trail, but only during the summer and fall! During the winter the crowds disappear giving you the perfect opportunity to make the most of the more popular trails during the winter. The Dream Lake Trail is amazing during the off-season and gives you the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of this hike. It is a great opportunity for beginners and families to start on their hiking journey. However, it is important to be careful, especially if there’s a lot of snowfall. Investing in a sturdy pair of snowshoes for every member of the family is a good idea.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
The Queen’s Garden and Navajo Loop Trail is beautiful to witness during the winter. When you see the defining features of Bryce Canyon National Park, like the hoodoos, the red-orange vertical spires rising up look amazing with falling snow in the background. When you add into the mix the beautiful blue sky and evergreen trees, it is a picture-perfect winter hike for the budding adventurer or families looking for the perfect photo opportunity. However, you have to make sure that you plan ahead for the Queen’s Garden And Navajo Loop trail hike because you are walking among many protruding hoodoos, so having the right hiking materials bundled in a tactical hiking backpack will keep everything in one handy place.
Yosemite National Park, California
This is very much a popular summer destination, and while hiking and driving options are limited in Yosemite National Park during the winter, you’ve got the perfect opportunity to make the most of amazing hikes and beautiful frozen lakes. The Mirror Lake Trail is a fantastic option for families because it is a very easy and rewarding journey that comes with two different options. You could do the full 5 miles around the lake which takes up to 3 hours, or you can choose the easier option, and take the two-mile round trip to the lake so you can witness Bridalveil Fall and Yosemite Falls in all their natural glory.
Oswald West State Park, Oregon
With amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and a secluded beach, the Oswald West State Park is one of the hidden treasures of the United States. While the Cape Falcon Trail is a very popular one during the summer, the winter months make it an adventure unlike anything you will have ever seen! Make sure you pack binoculars because when you venture over the cape falcon trail, you will be in the perfect position to take in a spot of whale watching during December and January. A men’s tactical belt could be a handy addition to your arsenal while you scale the rocky cliffs to get a view of thousands of gray whales migrating from the Bering Sea to Baja.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
We could not mention great hikes without referring to the most famous national park of them all! The Grand Canyon National Park is amazing during the winter months and because there are fewer tourists you get more opportunities to truly expand your experiences. The most popular hiking trail, the Bright Angel trail, descends into the depths of the Canyon, offering a number of great views of the insides of the structure, and the options for photo opportunities are, understandably, many! And for those who are taking family members, you’ve got the choice of longer journeys, such as to the Indian Garden or Plateau Point, or you could opt for the shorter visits to the rest houses situated every 1.5 or 3 miles. It’s quite a challenge during the winter, which is why you need to take your time on the returning ascent, and ensure you pack sturdy footwear!
Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park, Hawaii
A curveball for winter hikes, but worth mentioning nonetheless! The most famous Hawaiian hike, the Kalalau trail is 11 miles of stunning views of valleys and sea cliffs which takes you down to sea level ending at the secluded Kalalau beach. This is a challenge for even the experienced backpacker. The beaches of Hanakāpīʻai and Kalalau provide a challenge, and will take a full day to navigate. Winter weather in Hawaii is not the same as anywhere else in the US, and while temperatures seldom drop below 60°F, winter weather in Hawaii can be unpredictable. So make sure you check the conditions and have your waterproof cell phone dry bag ready in case your phone gets drenched!
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
An incredibly peaceful hiking experience. While the Harding Icefield Trail in the Kenai Fjords National Park is very popular during the summer months, it gives way to a more tranquil and peaceful experience for winter hikers to the end of the year. To say that it is challenging is an understatement. You have to navigate a lot of snow, but the summit itself can take a lot of energy. But you don’t need to opt for the full summit to make the most of the amazing views. You can take a shorter hike up the trail and see amazing views of the Exit Glacier. Just make sure that you check the conditions before you head out, and be properly equipped for this adventure.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
On the border between Tennessee and North Carolina sits the Great Smoky Mountains. A majestic snow-colored peak, the Forney Ridge Trail is a 3.6-mile round trip that gradually drops in elevation before ascending to the Andrews Bald Grassy Peak where you can witness beautiful views of the North Carolina mountains and highlands that go on for miles.
If you are looking for some of America’s best and most awesome winter hikes, you will struggle to do better than these! Winter hikes offer majestic views, but always remember that you need to be prepared. Do your homework, and make sure you’ve got all the necessary equipment!