Shawnee Forest winter hiking is one of the best times to hike.
Sue, I love summer a lot more than winter, personally. I enjoy warm weather. I don’t like the cold that much. My joints and bones hurt in the cold.
But with winter comes the ability to get off the beaten path without worrying about stepping on a snake, getting ticks, or walking into spider webs.
But Shawnee Forest winter hiking isn’t just a walk in the park. It’s rugged. It’s full of rolling hills. It isn’t marked very well in all places.
So, I created this Shawnee Forest winter hiking tips article to share with you so that you can have an enjoyable hike through the forest during the winter season.
Shawnee Forest Winter Hiking Tips for Keeping Warm
Let’s look at the Shawnee Forest winter hiking tips to help you enjoy a warm and comfortable hike through the forest when it’s cold outside.
- Practice laying up so you can start warm and shed layers off as you get hotter.
- You must hydrate properly when hiking during the winter, as it takes more energy out of you.
- Wear waterproof boots when hiking in the snow and wintry precipitation.
- Take hand warmers with you even if you plan to wear gloves the whole time.
- Use synthetic wool socks, gloves, and base layers. I use thick alpaca wool socks.
- Keep moving to keep your body warm, but take a break when needed.
- Choose a trail with a lot of sunlight exposure on sunnier winter days.
- Eat a hot breakfast and drink coffee or hot cocoa before hiking.
- A hillier route will warm your body temperature, but you’ll likely have to shed layers.
- Bring some coffee or hot cocoa in a thermos for a warm drink on the trail.
Shawnee Forest Winter Hiking Tips for Getting to the Trail
There are a few Shawnee Forest winter hiking tips you should know about for getting to the trail and finding hiking trails during the winter.
- Backroads are not plowed as often as main roads.
- The interstates are likely going to be better than the highways.
- A tow ban might be issued if the snow is terrible.
- Pack plenty of blankets, food, and extra water in your car if you get stranded.
- Trailheads and forest service roads are not plowed at all.
- Some state parks, like Ferne Clyffe, will close the gates of roads leading to trails.
- Sites like All Trails and my Free Hiking Guides will help you find trails.
- It will take significantly longer for rescue to reach you if you need emergency assistance.
- In most cases, you’ll need a 4×4 to get on most of the forest service roads in heavy snow.
- Stick to local trails for less travel and less chance of getting stuck.
Shawnee Forest Winter Hiking Tips: My Favorite Winter Trails
Here are a few Shawnee Forest winter hiking tips for my favorite trails to hit after a good snow event.
- Heron Pond – The road up to it isn’t treated and can be treacherous in the snow, but the swamp looks beautiful, covered in snow and ice.
- Giant City Nature Trail – This is an easy loop hike, even in the snow, and looks fantastic when everything is covered up in the white stuff.
- Millstone Bluff – This is another more accessible loop to hike during winter. Even when everything is covered by snow, there is plenty to see.
- Jackson Hole – This area is hard to reach and often requires a 4×4. It’s very rugged and can be dangerous. The frozen waterfalls make visiting very worth it.
- Jackson Falls – This area can be dangerous and difficult to reach during heavy snow. But the rocks and frozen waterfalls make it worth it to adventurous people like me.
- Indian Kitchen – This hike is easier to walk but can be hazardous around the kitchen and end of the trail, but the views of Lusk Creek are worth it.
- Cedar Wonders – We enjoy hiking the Buffalo Rock Trail after heavy snowfall. The creek looks amazing with snow in it.
- Max Creek Vortex – The area looks fantastic when covered in snow and ice. This area also has some of the best icicles in the Shawnee.
- Bell Smith Springs – Bell Smith is an amazing-looking area during the winter. The springs become blue in color, and everything looks crystal clear.
- Snake Road – If you’re lucky enough, on a bright and sunny day after it has snowed, cottonmouth snakes like to bask in the sun right on top of the snow.
I hope these Shawnee Forest winter hiking tips help you better your experience while hiking the forest after good snow. I ask that you put safety first when visiting the Shawnee National Forest during the winter because it’s easier to get hurt. If you enjoyed this article, please tell others about it and subscribe to my free monthly newsletter for more hiking tips.
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Thanks again for checking out another one of my articles and until next time, I’ll see you on the trail!
Founder, Hiking with Shawn
Howdy folks! My name is Shawn Gossman and I founded Hiking with Shawn. I’m an avid hiker, cyclist and outdoorsman here in the Shawnee National Forest. I was born and raised in Southern Illinois and never want to leave. Click here to learn more about Shawn Gossman