8 Reasons Why Winter Hiking Rocks

Winter, in my humble opinion, is often unappreciated. To some people, winter is the time of year that people avoid -the cold, the dark, the dreary. These descriptors may be true, but they are not what winter is all about. Yes, it may be cold. But, if you’re layering properly, you’d never know. Plus with the cold, comes the calm. Getting outside during the winter months, and hiking your favorite areas during this time of year can be incredibly rewarding. Here are a few reasons why winter hiking is wonderful.

snow, river, and hill in background

The calm, quiet landscapes are one of several reasons to go hiking in the winter. Photo: Susan Wowk

1. A New Perspective

The landscape takes on an almost magical feel after it snows and in the cold. The trail that you enjoy so much in those summer months may seem like a completely different place.

Instead of rushing rivers and waterfalls, you’re met with calm, or frozen waters. The pine trees that tower over your trail, now covered in snow, have that happy holiday feel to them.

You may look down and see animal tracks in the snow, tracks you wouldn’t have been able to see as clearly otherwise. The story of nature comes to life!

The trail that you may have known so well can become an entirely new place.

Whether you are met on the trail with a blue sky or a cloudy undertone of snow, the peace of the landscape cannot be missed.

Read More: A New Found Passion: Wildlife Tracking & Identification

animal tracks on a snowshoe outing

Snow allows you to see animal tracks, which may not have been seen otherwise. Photo: Susan Wowk

2. Fewer People

The beauty of the landscape is one thing, but the lack of crowds makes it all the more enjoyable. I would say that I’m a people person and typically enjoy talking and seeing others. But when I’m out in nature, with only my family and no one else, the silence allows me to truly appreciate what is around me.

Instead of struggling to find a parking spot on a trail near the town, you may be met with a handful of cars, or in some cases, none at all. Since I have a dog, the anxiety of having to navigate others with dogs completely goes away.

All I need to focus on is the quiet landscape around me.

Read More: The Dog Days of Winter: Tips for Snowshoeing with Pets

dog on wide open snowy trail

We were completely alone on this trail, even though it was a gorgeous day. Photo: Paul Wowk

3. Freedom to Explore

In the summer, oftentimes you are stuck to the trail. There’s no deviating, and meandering off-trail can be pretty frond or completely disallowed. However, once the snow hits the ground, free rein often abides.

In the case of deep snow, you may not even be able to see the trail. So you have the opportunity to explore and see what else is around you. Who knows what you’ll find?

Just remember to follow Leave No Trace guidelines, stay aware of the landscape to avoid avalanche conditions, and have your navigation in order, it’s time to break your own trail!

Read More: Why All Snowshoers Should Be Avalanche Aware (Even Beginners)

dog in deep snow looking at camera

The snow was several feet deep, and without trail indications, we had the freedom to explore the area! Photo: Paul Wowk

4. Tough Workout

Speaking of breaking your own trail, snowshoeing and winter hiking can be a tough workout! Creating your own trail in several feet of snow is hard work!

Also, as an aerobic activity, snowshoeing gets your heart pumping. It also activates your muscles, primarily in your lower body. However, you can always add Nordic walking poles to your outing to make it a full-body workout.

Similar to summer hiking, the level of intensity is really up to you. But, unlike summer hiking, hiking in the snow can be much easier on your joints.

Read More: Reap the Health Benefits of Snowshoeing

woman walking up winter trail with a dog

Snowshoeing and winter hiking can be a workout! Whether you are breaking trail in 2 feet of snow or walking up an elevated trail, it can be a tough workout. Photo: Paul Wowk

5. Gorgeous Views

I can’t tell you how many times I have stopped suddenly on my snowshoeing and winter hiking outings to admire the view. Especially in active snowfall, a dusting of snow on large peaks and mountain trees create a view that is incomparable.

Thus, winter hiking truly presents a unique opportunity for photographers. Snow provides the opportunity for a diverse set of photos with the opportunity to add stark contrasts to your images.

Make sure to bring your camera or smartphone on your next adventure to remember your experience and the beauty of your outing.

Read More: Winter Photography Tips for Snowshoers

river, snow coming, Monarch Lake

One of my favorite snowshoeing photos that embodies everything I love about winter: those cloudy, about to snow moments, slow-moving rivers, and the peace and tranquility of the outdoors. Photo: Susan Wowk

6. No Bugs

For those who get easily annoyed by insects (that’s me!), winter should be your favorite season! You don’t have to worry about any buzzing getting in the way on winter trails, and no bug spray is required.

Plus, for those that live in bear country, you also needn’t worry about encounters in the wintertime, since they will be fast asleep.

man with snowshoes looking at river

You can enjoy views near the water without having to worry about bugs! Photo: Susan Wowk

7. Positive Mental Health

Nature has been shown to have a positive impact on our brains and bodies. If we’re dressed appropriately and prepared for the conditions, getting out for a literal breath of fresh air helps us to clear the mind and escape from our anxieties.

No matter the weather, I go outside at least once a day to clear my head. Whether that time outside is a full-day hike or a short 10-minute walk around the block, it works every time!

Plus, if you look at treatments for seasonal affective disorder, several recommendations include time or sights in nature. Snowshoeing and winter hiking provides a low-risk opportunity to get outside, experience the wonders of nature, and beat those winter blues.

Read More: Snowshoeing Saved My Life

woman snowshoeing in a group of trees

Getting outside and experiencing nature in the winter is an incredible boost to mental health. Photo: Paul Wowk

8. The After Apres

After an exhilarating snowshoe outing, coming home and getting warm is the absolute best feeling! You feel invigorated from being outside in the crisp cold air, only to become all snuggled again.

I like to take off my hiking gear, wrap myself up in a blanket, and drink a nice hot beverage. You can sit by the fireplace. Or, even better, warm up in your local hot springs or in a nice warm bath.

Read More: Apres Snowshoe: Tasty Recipes To Try

So, if you’re not yet on the winter hiking train I hope you have found some inspiration! You never know what you might find or the positive experiences you could have in a winter wonderland.

Would you or have you tried winter hiking? What are your favorite aspects? What is holding you back? Please let us know in the comments below.

Read Next:
10 Ways to Get Outside & Explore Your Local Backyard this Winter
Why Do We Snowshoe? A Psycho-Social Analysis or Just Because
Snowshoeing for Beginners: The First-Timer’s Guide
Tips & Tricks for Cold-Weather Backpacking & Winter Camping

About the author

Susan Wowk

Susan Wowk

Susan has owned Snowshoe Magazine with her husband, Paul, since 2015. In 2018, she became more involved in writing and editing content and now is the lead editor of the publication. She enjoys all things winter and snowshoes regularly with Paul and 13-year-old puppy Grizzy.

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2 Comments

  • What’s not to like?! Firstly, the extraordinary beauty of a snowy landscape – snow can even make a trash heap look beautiful, as nothing else can. I also feel more energetic when it’s cold, and enjoy doing more exercising with less sweating. My favorite places are the French and Italian Alps. The post snowshoeing hot shower (if not doing winter camping) and hot chocolate, etc., also feel even better after having spent hours out in the snow.

    • Thank you for sharing, Millicent! I agree with you 1 million percent 🙂 There’s something about the snow that it can make any landscape look beautiful. Plus, I always feel much happier and energetic when it’s cold out too. The French and Italian Alps look absolutely beautiful. Snowshoe Mag has a few writers in the area, but I’ve never been there myself. One day I hope to go! It’s so great to know that there’s a fellow winter lover out there who loves the snowy weather just as much as I do! I hope you enjoy the rest of winter and have wonderful snowy adventures! -Susan