- Quiet, peaceful, often private trails
- Animal tracks in the snow
- Less sweating!
- It’s the best cure for cabin fever!
If you decide to venture into the woods this time of year, make sure you are prepared! Here are some important things to bring and keep in mind!
Wool or Synthetic Clothing – (socks especially) Ever heard the expression “Cotton Kills”? When cotton gets wet, it gets cold! Wool (and many synthetics) on the other hand retain heat even when wet. Wool socks are the best for winter hiking, because odds are, if there is snow on the ground, your feet WILL get wet!
Layers – Even if you are not feeling all that cold, it is a good idea to bring layers. If you need to stop moving, (hopefully just for a snack break) your body temperature will drop and you will be happy to have something warm to put on. Remember to bring at least a hat, gloves and an extra sweater or long sleeve shirt. Also, wearing a pair of thermals under your pants will keep you a lot warmer. (remember – no cotton. try Patagonia’s Capilene bottoms)
Appropriate Footwear – Please don’t go hiking in your summer running shoes! Heavy duty winter hiking boots with sturdy soles are ideal. Waterproof GORE-TEX boots are best, but you can probably get by with a warm pair of snow boots too.
YakTrax – YakTrax are similar to crampons which help you get a better grip on ice and packed snow. Unlike crampons, which make me think of hard-core mountain climbing, YakTrax are more for everyday use, including walking on icy steps and driveways. If you think the trail might be icy, it would be great to have a pair of these in your pack, just in case!
Trail Map – Again, something I ALWAYS have, no matter what time of year.
Trekking Poles – These are very helpful on icy trails!
Emergency Supplies – These may not be necessary for a 1/2 mile walk, but definitely bring these on longer hikes.
- Headlamp or Flashlight – LED lights are best, as they last longer
- Compass – Don’t rely on only a GPS.
- Extra batteries – for your headlamp, flashlight or GPS
- Emergency Shelter
- Pocket knife or multi-tool
- First-aid Kit
- Matches and Firestarter
Safety Tips to Remember:
Never hike alone.
Tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return.
Winter daylight hours are shorter, so plan to hike earlier in the day and don’t get stuck in the dark!
Check the weather forecast before you go out.
Day Hikes Only!
All these tips are intended for short day-hikes. If you are thinking of doing something longer or a winter-camping trip, please do more research! Backpacking is a lot of fun, but it requires much more preparation and a permit from the Park.
This blog is sponsored in part by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN. For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.