Winter hiking can be invigorating and rewarding, but it's very important to be prepared.

Park Property Management has five winter hiking tips for anyone who wants to get outside and enjoy the fresh, crisp air.


1. Plan it out

Use a map to plan your route and check the terrain. Check the weather and look for precipitation, wind conditions, and daylight hours. If the weather looks too wet or unstable, postpone your trip. Remember to start early so you will have sunlight for your whole journey.


2. Dress appropriately

Dressing in layers is important so you can remove clothing if you get too warm. Use a base, mid, and outer layer. Close-fitting wool or synthetics that sit tight to your skin will wick away moisture; insulating fleece or down will help keep you warm; and waterproof materials will keep you dry and protect you from harsh winds. Also add a hat, lightweight and waterproof gloves, waterproof boots, and a face mask that will protect you from wind. But, don't overdress! If you start out warm, you will quickly become sweaty and wet.


3. Safety first

Hypothermia is a serious risk when winter hiking. It can occur from weather conditions or physical conditions like fatigue, dehydration, and exhaustion. Prevent hypothermia by dressing appropriately and by learning about the signs and symptoms.

Pack emergency items such as a first aid kit, cell phone, compass, multi-tool, flashlight, and hand warming packets. Before you leave, apply sunscreen to your face and wear a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes. It's also important to either hike with a buddy or tell your family or friends where you're going.


4. Stay hydrated and fuel up

Hydration is very important. Pack water in insulated bottles to keep it from freezing. Also, a hot beverage in a thermos will help warm you along the trail. Winter hiking requires more from your body, so pack snacks. Stopping to eat can lower your body temperature, so bring snacks you can eat on the go and discard the garbage appropriately.


5. It's okay to turn around

Getting to the end of your trail is an accomplishment, but getting home is more important! Focus on the round trip and don't get carried away with how far you can go. Regularly checking with your map will help you determine how much trail is left and if you will have enough energy to finish and get back safely.