Why Cold Weather Hiking is the Best Hiking

Welcome, October. While it was a balmy 94 degrees today, the promise of cooler temperatures is right around the corner. It has me dreaming of firey colored leaves, cozy evenings, and spooky nights. But what’s really exciting for me, as someone who hikes at least every weekend- is cold weather hiking!

Klondike Park, St. Charles County, MO

Here are my top three reasons- among many- why I love hiking in the fall and winter:

Less bugs, less bug spray.

My kids are not fans of getting sprayed down with smelly bug spray. I’m not a huge fan of spraying them with anything containing DEET and of course, the DEET-free options are more expensive. But I always dutifully do so, and you can always find bug spray in my car. In the fall and winter and cold early spring, you can worry less about all those bug bites.

My kids also happen to be tick magnets. And one of my children has anxiety around bug bites, but he worries much less when bugs are not milling about constantly.

The views are spectacular.

Castlewood State Park, MO

When you hike in fall, obviously, the fall foliage is a huge draw. However, even after the leaves fall, there are perks to hiking this time of year. Without all the leaves, you can often see geological features you may have missed and the scenic overlooks are often more visible.

Unique quiet.

As a lady who hikes the majority of the time with four kids and/or a forty year old man, quiet solitude may be a surprising item to find on my list. But when the weather turns, you find many fewer people sharing your trail. And when we get out, we love to sit in the stillness and listen- to nature, water, our breath, whatever. While we love meeting new families and friends out on the trails, we experience a different quiet when we are not meeting many people out there. It is really a beautiful experience. And when I do get my alone hikes in, it is especially spectacular.

St. Charles County, MO

Some tips: Be prepared.

Of course, hiking at any time of year requires preparation and precaution. Plan ahead. Let someone know where you’re going and when. I often record my hikes on the All Trails app so there is a record. Always take your basic supplies for first aid and safety, a map, headlamp, and water and food. Stay on the trail and check the weather beforehand. If you’re somewhere super remote, a weather radio and/or a satellite phone are good emergency gear to bring, as cell phones don’t work everywhere.

An additional precaution I recommend in these colder months is to head out early. Being aware of time is critical in these colder months with shorter days. The sun goes down much earlier, and if you’re like me, it can be easy to get caught up in the beauty and the experience. Staying aware is important. And lastly, when in doubt, turn around. It is not worth it to overextend yourself in any regard and turn what could have been a lovely adventure into a catastrophe, disaster, or emergency.

Hiking is a wonderful hobby that has significantly enhanced my life, and I hope it will continue to enhance my children’s lives. My hope is to leave with them some sense of wonder and adventure, an appreciation for the simple beauty that our world offers. So we can’t let a little cold weather stop us! There’s no such thing as bad weather- just bad clothes and bad attitudes. With the right preparation, you can have an even greater adventure in the cold!