Winter hiking can often be more rewarding than summer hiking. After all, it’s easy to get out of the house when the weather is good. However, hiking in colder weather requires a bit more planning, and certainly, more gear in order to overcome potential dangers. Here are 6 common winter hiking dangers to be aware of, and what you need to do to overcome them.

two kids hiking on a snowy trail

Colder temperatures

Colder temperatures may be the most obvious of the winter hiking dangers. The saying goes, “There’s no bad weather if you’ve got the right gear.” This is absolutely true, so it’s imperative to have the proper attire for you and your kids to minimize heat loss and the chance for cold weather-related injuries. Layering correctly for the temperatures can ensure you are protected against whatever the winter elements throw your way. Check out this guide on proper layering for all the members of your family from L.L. Bean.

Wild animals

Although lots of animals hibernate, not all of them do. And, of those that snooze away the winter months, some wake up periodically for a short walk. The best thing you can do to prepare is to be aware of the creatures in your area and pay attention to any word about encounters. Learn more about mitigating wildlife encounters here.

Avalanches

Depending on where you live, avalanches may or may not be one of the winter hiking dangers to consider. If you are new to an area or aren’t sure, then definitely ask some locals. The best practice is to avoid areas that are prone to avalanches during winter months. However, most regions that experience avalanches also offer some great training opportunities. Check out this post to learn more about avalanche safety.

Difficult trail conditions

Winter weather often means winter trail conditions or trails covered with ice or deep snow. In addition to being prepared with good gear, which may include ice grippers for your footwear, snowshoes, or trekking poles, you’ll also want to factor in additional time. A trail that takes an hour in good conditions may take two to three hours if you’re slogging through deep snow or being extra careful of your footing. Furthermore, if you are crossing any streams, the crossings can be more difficult due to slippery or thin ice.

Trail signs hidden by snow/ice

Prepare for signs to be obscured or hidden by snow or ice. Instead of solely relying on signage to navigate trails, you’ll want to have a backup on hand, whether a map or a handheld GPS unit.

Less daylight

On the outset, less daylight might not seem like one of the winter hiking dangers to overcome. However, daylight can be a significant factor if your hike takes more time than anticipated. So, if your hike runs the risk of coinciding with dusk, plan ahead and bring flashlights or headlamps. Here are some tips we love for hiking in the dark.  And, of course, glow sticks are great! Kids love them, and they help you locate your little ones during low light.

Fun Hike Idea: Plan a glow stick hike or stroll to take advantage of fresh air activities when days are shorter.

Are you ready to overcome winter hiking dangers?

As with most things, the key to overcoming winter hiking dangers boils down to preparation. Make sure you have the right gear and know your area well. If you have questions about hiking in your local area, any safety concerns, or need some information, reach out to your local or state parks department, or ask other hikers on your local Hike it Baby Facebook page.

Winter hiking is a beautiful thing when you plan ahead. And the best part? Your kids will learn to love the outdoors year-round. Happy Trails!

Hiking with a group is a sure way to stay safe on the trail in the winter. Connect with your local Hike it Baby branch and join an upcoming community led hike near you today! 


About Hike it Baby

Hike it Baby is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to getting families outdoors and on trails across the U.S. and internationally, supporting, educating and inspiring families through their more than 300 communities across North America. Since its grassroots inception in 2013 in Portland, Oregon, Hike it Baby is now a growing community of 270,000 families and 500 volunteer branch ambassadors hosting more than 1,600 hikes per month. More information, as well as daily hike schedules, can be found at HikeitBaby.com, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Photo courtesy of Alex Wong.

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