Winter Hiking Tips

Now is a fabulous time for walking or hiking in the woods. (In case you are wondering, I've determined that the only real difference between walking and hiking is that a backpack is included in the latter.) Many people head out to our lovely local parks in spring and summer, neglecting the gorgeous fall colors or the quiet beauty of the winter woods.

My favorite part about being in the woods this time of year is that no one else seems to realize how lovely it is, so we have the whole place to ourselves. But if you're new or not used to hiking, there are a few key tips that will make it easier, safer and more enjoyable for you!

1) Eco-friendly Water Bottle: Disposable water bottles might be convenient or necessary in a pinch, but reusable bottles will save you money and reduce your carbon footprint. Even if you don't think you'll need it, it's nice to bring along some water to stay hydrated or at least have it in your car. If you're choosing a bottle to purchase, make sure that it's easy to clean.

2) Backpack or Fanny Pack: For longer hikes that will include a meal or other necessities, choose a water-resistant bag to suit your needs.

3) Yoga/Hiking Clothes: Though you want to be able to move comfortably, warmth and insulation are the most important needs in the winter. I usually like to have a moisture-wicking layer, then an insulating layer and finally a water and wind-resistant layer. Always bring gloves, a scarf or neck gator and a hat that will cover your ears.

4) Appropriate Shoes: If you have hiking shoes or comfortable walking boots, great! Otherwise, tennis shoes will usually suffice. Consider bringing or layering an extra pair of socks or adding disposable toe warmers to your shoes.

5) Map, Cell Phone and/or Guide: Though winter woods are more open, snow and leaves can often obscure smaller trails and make it easier to lose your way. If you're on your own, bring a map and make sure your cellphone is charged.

Bonus: Plastic Bag to Collect Trash: This final optional tip is something I highly recommend to bring along whenever you're able. Many of our local parks are maintained on a volunteer basis, or by employees who are already stretched thin with other park maintenance. Doing our part to remove any litter you might find along the way helps to keep wildlife safe, park trails pristine and your conscious clean.

If you're looking for a great hike to try out these tips, kick-off the new year or your yoga practice, check out my upcoming Winter Nature Hike + Yoga this Sunday at 3:00pm at White Oak Park! $20 to sign up.

Meet yoga friends at Angora Gardens in White Oak to embark on a gentle, beginners hike through White Oak Park.

Dress warmly, get some exercise in the fresh, crisp air of winter. Pause along the hike for some breathing and yoga postures (no mat needed) and finish up with complimentary hot tea! Perfect for beginners.

Thanks for reading!