Winter Hiking Tips

Winter Hiking Tips

Last week as one of the first cool fronts of the season moved through Central Texas, one of my friends made a comment about “hiking season.” Now, I’ve never really thought of hiking as a seasonal activity. If you’re taking your camper to one of Texas’ prime hiking spots, you’ll just get the latest weather report and add a few more layers, right? After all, you could very well be wearing shorts at Thanksgiving.

But if the temperatures dip dramatically, or you’re thinking about mountain hikes in neighboring states like New Mexico or Colorado, you may very well have a few more things to consider as you plan your hike. Here are a few tips.

Wear the right clothes:  The bottom line is that you’ll have a lot more fun if your teeth aren’t chattering. This means wearing a base, insulating, and outer layer. (You’ll want to avoid cotton, which loses its insulating ability when wet.) There are plenty of high-tech clothes out there to choose from that will keep you warm, dry quickly if they get wet, and give help you stay comfy all day long.  Choose a sturdy pair of hiking boots over your lightweight summer boots, and if you haven’t looked at the amazing selection of socks on the market lately, spend some quality time with the experts at your local sporting goods store. A good pair of socks or two will be well worth the investment.

Pack Emergency Supplies: Even if you’re going for a short day hike, the weather can change quickly. Take an extra windbreaker or rain poncho as added protection from rain or snow, along with a fleece hat and gloves. Chemical heat packs and a flashlight can also come in hand, as well as extra energy bars and water.

Enchanted RockTake a Buddy: It’s always a good idea to hike with a buddy, and it’s an even better idea when cold weather can throw a wrench into the best-laid plans. In the event of an emergency, two heads can definitely be better than one.

Leave an itinerary: Let someone at the RV park or the ranger station know where you’re going and when you expect to return. Park rangers can give you the latest updates and safety tips on your selected trail, and can start searching for you sooner rather than later if you do not return on schedule.

I love watching the landscape change with the seasons, and with a little preparation, winter can still be a great time to get outside and enjoy nature. Let us know if you have any favorite winter trails, or tips about great gear!

~G. Elaine Acker