Winter hiking offers a new perspective

There are plenty of reasons to embrace hiking in the colder months — among them the fact that there are no biting insects buzzing around, and the heat and humidity of summer are gone. A completely unscientific poll of other hikers yielded three top reasons for hitting the trail in winter: solitude, smoother trekking, and fantastic views.

“When it isn’t windy, it’s silent. Real silence is truly a wonderful experience.”

Adding to the solitude aspect is the fact that there are far fewer hikers on even the most popular trails in the winter. You’ll rarely see more than a scant handful of other hikers during winter outings, even when exploring the most popular spots.

There are, however, usually just enough winter enthusiasts that the trails — at least for more well-known hikes — are tracked out. Snow does a great job of smoothing out the landscape, and if a few hikers have gone the way you’re headed before you hit the trail, it becomes easy trekking compared to summertime, as all those roots and boulders hikers must scramble over and around during the warmer seasons are covered up, creating a more uniform walking surface.

And while winter offers what may seem a stark landscape, the views from hiking trails — and their eventual destination, whether waterfall or mountain summit — expand during this season. With no foliage on the trees, the panorama is wider, even from lower elevations. Ice clings to rock faces. And if you’re lucky enough to be above treeline or at an overlook below on a blue-bird winter day, the mountain vista is usually crystal clear.

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