16 Nov 8 Destinations For Winter Hiking That Are Freezing Awesome
There are two reasons why hiking in the winter is the best time of year for your adventure.
For one, winter is when the desert locations such as Arizona, Texas, and Utah provide ideal temperatures for outdoor excursions. With the temperatures a lot cooler, winter hiking is ideal for admiring some of the most beautiful scenery you could possibly find in America, without giving into the 100+ degree heat.
The other reason is one that people don’t typically think of. Winter hiking alleviates the stress of crowded trails, does away with insects and mosquitos, and as cold and wet as the snow can make the mountains, the scenery and mountain tops offer a brand new experience that you wouldn’t get during any other season.
So whether you’re a desert hiker looking for a cool time to see the plateaus or you’re looking for the ideal mountainous trails that optimize beauty during the snowy season, here are eight wonderful winter hiking destinations for you to explore this upcoming season.
1. Bear Mountain Trail: Sedona, Arizona
Hiking Sedona in the winter is your best option if you don’t want to labor through the desert’s ferocious heat. Measuring at five miles round trip, the Bear Mountain Trail ascends 1,800 feet. From there, you’ll see Mount Humphrey, Arizona’s highest point.
2. Acadia National Park: Mt. Desert, Maine
When you think of winter, chances are the most ideal location wouldn’t be going to the ocean. But Acadia National Park has some of the most scenic oceans views, and stimulates the senses with its strong salt water fragrance. We recommend the Gorham Mountain Trail. It’s a short four mile trek, but the wintry New England scenery is perfect for trekking and is also great for snowshoeing.
3. Olympic National Park: Port Angeles, WA
If you’ve never been to Washington State before, Olympic National Park encompasses a lot of what you’d expect to see: glacier-capped mountains, beautiful views of the coastline, and luscious rich green forests. But the spot is great for winter hiking because of the mountains low top elevation, especially on the Mount Ellinor Trail, which keeps the tumultuous weather under control. But train yourself beforehand; covering 3,300 feet in three miles means the hiking trail is not exactly a walk in the park.
4. Zion National Park: Utah
Compared to the summer when you can only access the park by shuttle, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive opens up to private vehicles, allowing you to explore other parts of the park you wouldn’t be able to access during any other season. Winter hiking at Zion National Park is not only a time of colder weather and minimal crowds, but also one of the most breathtaking hikes on the list. Travel along the Sand Beach trail and in about 500 feet, you’ll reach an amazing view of the Court of Patriarchs. The hike may be a little slow given the immediacy of the elevation and the minor patches of snow and ice, but it will be worth it once you reach the top.
5. Big Bend National Park: Texas
While we’re on the subject of winter hiking in the desert, in the drier winter months, hikers also don’t have to worry about the threat of thunderstorms on top of the discomfort of excessive heat. Lace up your boots and embark on the 11.6 mile loop called the “South Rim Loop”. You will encounter the wooden bowls of Boot Canyon, reach the 7,832 tip of Emory Peak, and travel along the U.S.-Mexico border of the Chihuahuan Desert.
6. Rocky Mountain National Park: Estes Park, Colorado
The western side of the Rocky Mountains receive some pretty heavy snowpack, but the eastern side—the side below 8,700 feet—is much more accessible. The snow capped mountain tops are really breathtaking, and it’s worth a trip up to Odessa Lake, located in the high alpines. The number of travelers around the winter season drops from about 500,000 to as low as 50,000, so these gorgeous views and rewarding winter hikes can really feel like you’re exploring a secret spot.
7. Glacier National Park: West Glacier, Montana
We’re adding Glacier National Park to the list because as engaging as the winter hiking is, we also want to give our cross-country skiers an idea of places to go. This eight mile round trip rolling trail starts at the Saint Mary Campground and follows the Eagle and Elk Loops. You’ll pass the Saint Mary Lake and have a great view overlooking Red Eagle Creek from on top of a bluff.
8. Kenai Fjords National Park: Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska
Here’s where the real winter hiking enthusiasts will be put to the test. Travel the four-mile climb—at nearly 1,000 feet per mile—to the Harding Icefield. At 700 square miles along, the icefield is the largest in the United States. On the Harding Icefield trail, which is just over eight miles long, you’ll enjoy the views of the Exit Glacier, the cottonwood forests, and the lack of black bears due to hibernation (yes, that’s a good thing).
After all of that hiking out in the brazen wilderness, you’ll surely want a nice place to unwind with a cup of cocoa and a warm bed. Check out our available resort rental deals in our inventory that we have near these amazing winter hiking destinations!