24 Amazing Winter Hiking Benefits to Get You Hiking this Winter
Are you aware of all the amazing winter hiking benefits that you can take advantage of?
Some people stay inside all winter. They don’t hike because it’s cold and too dangerous. Sure, it can get cold, but if you take the right steps, you can stay warm. It can be dangerous but if you use common sense, you can avoid any hazard.
Don’t miss out on winter hiking benefits because you think it’s too cold or too dangerous.
I’ll show you 24 different benefits to help you get to hiking in the winter more often.
Winter Hiking Benefits for Your Mind
Many winter hiking benefits are good for your mind.
1 – Winter Hiking Puts You in a Good Mood
Winter hiking will put you in a good mood.
Getting away from technology and the daily grind is a good way to be in a better mood.
Winter hiking is calmer, quieter, and more relaxing in most cases.
2 – It’s Free to Hike in the Winter
There are typically no costs to winter hiking.
Some areas may have small fees for parking and camping, but for the most part, you should be able to find trails that are free to park and hike at.
Hiking is one of the least expensive outdoor recreation activities out there.
3 – The Outdoors Seems Calmer in the Winter
Fewer people are doing things outdoors in the winter.
Calmness is one of those winter hiking benefits that you can expect to enjoy on colder days.
Everything is asleep and nature is more still during the winter.
4 – Winter Hiking Decreases Stress
Hiking, in general, is a big stress reliever.
In the winter, you might be even more stressed because you are doing fewer things due to colder weather.
But winter hiking lets you escape some of the stress and enjoy the fresh air that the great outdoors has to offer.
5 – Winter Hiking is a Cure for S.A.D.
Are you SAD?
SAD as in Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is a common disorder among people who become depressed during colder weather because activities decrease.
Hiking is a way to help you embrace the winter, enjoy it, and quit being sad during seasonal changes.
6 – Winter Hiking Stimulates the Mind and Brain
There is a lot more to see during the winter.
Mainly because of how easy it is to see everything.
This promotes good mind and brain health because you’re constantly stimulating it when you’re seeing new things and getting new sensations from the views.
7 – Winter Hiking Makes You Curious
Because you can see everything, you become more curious about things.
You might find yourself wanting to go check out some bluffs or a frozen waterfall that you may have missed in the summer.
Winter hiking helps to increase your curiosity about the nature around you.
8 – Hiking Trails are Less Crowded in the Winter
One of the best winter hiking benefits is the lack of crowds on hiking trails.
Even areas that are so popular during the summer that they reach capacity are often less crowded in the winter.
A lot of people don’t want to get out, and that opens you up to enjoy the views with more nature and fewer people.
9 – Enjoy Snowy Landscapes and Ice Formation
There are so many new visuals to enjoy during the winter months on the hiking trail.
You get to see new sceneries and landscapes covered in snow and free of vegetation.
You also get to enjoy amazing ice formations, creeks, and frozen waterfalls.
10 – Alter Your Perception of Winter
Most people quit doing a lot of things in the winter.
It depresses many people, and they focus more on eating and doing unhealthy things.
If you embrace winter hiking, it will change your perception of winter and allow you to enjoy all the seasons that this earth has to offer.
11 – Try Other New Hiking like Snowshoeing and Skiing
Standard hiking isn’t your only option to enjoy during the winter.
Snow and ice open you up to all sorts of new outdoor activities.
Enjoy a snowshoe hike or even get on a pair of skis and travel that way.
13 – Winter Hiking Allows You to See and Explore More
When it’s winter, you can expect all the leaves off the trees.
This means you can see more.
And that means you can explore more areas of the woods than you could when everything was all grown up and difficult to move through.
Winter Hiking Benefits for Your Health
There are also many winter hiking benefits for stabilizing your health and fitness.
14 – You Burn More Calories Hiking in the Winter
It’s colder in the winter.
That requires more energy to keep your body warm.
Hiking in the winter is a great way to burn more calories.
15 – Winter Hiking is Good for the Heart
Doing activities that work out your heart is good for your heart.
Winter hiking is good for your heart because you’ll work it out more because of how cold it is and what your body needs to do to warm up.
But you should always check with your doctor to ensure it’s healthy for you to be hiking in the winter.
16 – Natural Light is Good For You
Too much artificial light is bad for you.
We get too much artificial light with all our smartphones and television screens.
Hiking gives us a break from that and more natural light when it is what our body needs.
17 – Winter Hiking Helps Improve Your Physical Condition
Hiking in the winter requires more energy from you.
This means that you burn more calories and put more effort into the activity.
That will significantly help your physical condition and make you a stronger person as a hiker and in general.
18 – There are No Ticks or Mosquitoes in the Winter
The ticks and mosquitoes are gone in the winter.
You should still check yourself, but it’s rare to find a tick on you during the colder months.
And mosquitoes and biting flies are long gone when it’s cold outside.
19 – Winter Hiking Helps You Build Muscles
Hiking is a form of fitness.
You not only build muscles in your legs but also your upper body from pack weight.
The more you hike in the winter, the more muscles you’re maintaining.
20 – Winter Hiking Helps You Burn Fat
Because hiking takes more energy from you in the winter, it’s great for dieting.
Hiking burns fat, but it burns even more fat during the colder months.
You just need to regulate what you eat versus how often you hike.
21 – Winter Hiking Will Boost Your Immune System
Another one of those winter hiking benefits is an immune system boost.
Most people get colds and the flu from inside places where germs congregate.
When you’re outside, you’re breathing in naturally filtered fresh air.
22 – Winter Hiking Will Help You Sleep Better
Hiking in the winter requires you to use more energy.
When you hike longer trails, the energy loss will wear you out more than it does during the warmer months.
This will help you have deeper and better sleeping sessions because of the healthy energy loss.
23 – There are Fewer Allergies in the Winter
The spring and summer are full of allergies, blooms, and other things that make you sneeze.
During the winter, many of these plants are not in bloom.
In the winter, you don’t have to worry about most allergic reactions.
24 – You Sweat Less in the Winter
Sweating less is one of the winter hiking benefits I like the most.
When you sweat, you stink, and you risk getting skin infections and acne breakouts due to the sweat.
In the winter, you sweat less and feel dryer for most of your hike.
Tips for Better Winter Hiking
In order to enjoy all the winter hiking benefits offered, you need to ensure that you are able to have a great time on the hiking trail.
Adjust to the Cold Weather Mindset
The first thing you want to do is adjust yourself to the mindset of winter.
You need to realize it’s cold outside and that you’ll be required to act further.
Embrace winter as a good thing. Don’t dwell on the cold.
Clothing and Layering Up
Wearing the right clothing during your winter hike is the best way to stay warm.
Use moisture-wicking apparel made from synthetic wool and fleece.
Layer up so that you can control your body temperature as you need to throughout the day on your hike.
Fuel, Hydration, and Hot Stuff
Many people forget to hydrate and fuel as much during the winter hiking season.
Make sure you’re putting calories back in and hydrating like you should be.
And bring hot stuff with you to eat and drink to warm up, like hot chocolate or soup.
Winter Hiking Gear
Take appropriate winter hiking gear with you.
Make sure you pack emergency layers and extra food and water.
Make sure you pack a shelter, blanket, and camp kitchen just in case you need it.
Winter Activities and Meets
Winter is the best time to enjoy activities and meet-ups.
Many hiking groups get active during the winter.
Many land management agencies put on holiday and winter challenges and events to enjoy, too.
Take Winter Safety Serious
Safety in the winter deserves more recognition.
A lot more injuries and fatalities occur on hiking trails in the winter.
Make sure you’re putting more emphasis on safety during the winter months.
Slow Down and Take a Break
The colder weather will take more calories and resources from you as you hike it.
This means you need to slow down as you’ll work harder on your hike.
You should also take a break more frequently and build your energy back up.
Winter Hiking Benefits FAQ
Do you have any questions about winter hiking benefits that might help you enjoy a better winter hiking season?
Is it safe to hike during the winter months?
While it is safe to hike in the winter, increased and new risks do form during the winter months. Rocks get slicker, ice can be a problem, and cold weather illnesses and injuries can occur. But if you’re able to put more emphasis on your own safety during winter hiking, you can keep yourself safe for the most part.
Should I hike when the snow has fallen?
You can hike during and after the snow has fallen with the right gear and equipment. You may decide to travel using snowshoes or skis. You should never attempt to hike during severe winter weather conditions such as blizzards, deep snow, avalanche conditions, or whiteouts.
Should I hike in icy conditions?
Ice hiking is more dangerous but still very possible. You should take appropriate ice gear with you, such as an ice pick/axe and spikes for your shoes. When hiking during icy conditions, you should choose trails that are not as dangerous and never during severe sleet and freezing rain events.
What’s the best way to stay safe when hiking in the winter?
The best way to stay safe when hiking during the winter is to use common sense and always watch your next step. This is how you avoid most injuries and safety hazards during any season or any hiking adventure.
Is hiking a great form of fitness during the winter months?
Hiking is an excellent form of fitness during the winter months. You will burn more calories based on the extra energy it will take your body to stay warmed up. This opens you up to increased performance as you hike and exercise outdoors.
Final Thoughts About Winter Hiking
There are many winter hiking benefits to take advantage of during the colder months. Many people decrease their hiking activities and stay inside. Because of that, they lose a lot of their hiking benefits from the warmer months. But if you keep hiking even when it’s cold, you’ll boost your mind and health significantly.
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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