December hiking can be delightful

Don’t discount the beauty and serenity of spending off-season moments hiking through the woods.

The words ring in your ears each year as fall ends and you hunker down, preparing for winter. Perhaps you’re simply not ready for another long, cold winter. Maybe you simply crave solo walks in the otherwise bustling woods.

Most people hike through regional parks when the weather remains favorable or a bounty of colors create a beautiful canopy in the forest. They splash in streams and kick up leaves, walking along favorite pathways and trails. Hearty hikers continue to walk the paths long after the leaves have fallen to the ground and the temperature starts to drop.

There’s something about knowing you have a hiking trail almost all to yourself. You feel a bit like an explorer, a pioneer. You may find you can spend a week hiking through a nearly-empty national park.

There are plenty of opportunities to see wildlife and birds that are still around. Once the leaves have fallen, hikers can see farther into the environment. You get better views of creeks in spots where normally vegetation will block your view.

But you will also need to be aware of your footing. Some trails remain covered with leaves, which hide tree roots along a trail. When wet, leaves also become slick. Both can send hikers tumbling to the ground.

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