The summer months bring an endless trove of hikers to the Adirondacks, and it is no wonder why. The beauty of the region is spectacular and it is only a few hours distance from several metropolis areas making it easily accessed for a weekend getaway.
Very few people, however, realize that the hiking doesn’t have to stop during winter months. In fact many that have gotten into winter hiking actually prefer the winter over other seasons!
Types of Winter Hiking
Winter hiking can take on several forms. The most common is done wearing snow shoes, the kind that let you walk on top of the snow without sinking in.
If you aren’t familiar with modern snow shoes, they have come a long way in recent years. There are some very high tech snow shoes out there, including racing ones! There are even regular snow shoe races here in the Northeast, several of which are held in the Adirondacks.
Another common type of winter hiking involves cross country skiing. This is a sport in of itself, however, it often includes hiking and is often done in the same spots that snowshoe hikers go.
Mountain climbing is a whole another sport and on that this article won’t really touch on.
Where to Winter Hike Upstate NY
Not all of the regular hiking trails are recommended in the winter, however, most of them can be done with out a problem. In a previous post we mentioned the Winter 46ers, those who do all 46 peaks during the winter months. This having been said there are at least 46 Adirondack hikes to choose from 🙂
A winter favorite in the area is the historic Great Camp Santanoni. Both cross country skiers and snow shoes enjoy the trails around the camp. A plus is that on several winter weekends there is an open house where you can warm up touring the historic camps buildings.
Of course the trails are always open, however, if you want to tour the buildings you will have to check the specific weekends that they will open.
Another great choice close by is the Natural Stone Bridge and Caves Park. They have 35 well maintained trails, over 14 miles in all. The trails take you by some great spots. You will pass the Largest marble cave entrance in the east. Several beautiful frozen waterfalls, sinkholes, ridges and more.
They rent snowshoes and charge a modest fee for use of the beautiful property. They also have some guided tours on Saturday evenings. To get a better idea check out this: Interactive Trail Map.
If you want some more ideas you might enjoy this article on winter hikes in NY State. Several of the listed hikes are in the Adirondacks, or close by: Great Winter Hikes
Some Basic Tips
It should go without saying that you need to be well prepared before venturing out in the mountains in the dead of winter. Below are some basic tips to keep in mind when preparing for your adventure:
1) Dress in layers: Your body temperature is important not only to your comfort, but also to your health! Dressing in layers will enable you to adjust your temperature to the ever-changing circumstances, i.e., when you are going uphill, in a breezy spot, or relaxing at a peak. Keep in mind that your outer layer should be light and waterproof.
2) Be Safe: This mostly means never going alone, keeping an eye on the weather forecast, and having a basic first aid kit with you.
3) Keep Hydrated: This is often overlooked in cold weather, however, it is still very important. It is best to bring hot liquids in a thermos, so you can keep hydrated and warm at he same time.
4) Be Reasonable: Ice and snow mean constantly changing conditions, these conditions sometimes can get dangerous. If you don’t feel comfortable with the trail conditions ahead be prepared to turn around.
5) Always Bring Crampons: Crampons are basically little metal spikes that hook under the soles of you boots. You will probably already be using snowshoes, however, in certain conditions, such as ice on a steep or cramped trail, you will need to switch your snowshoes for crampons. If you don’t bring any with you your chances of having to turn around are multiplied.
6) Last but not least: HAVE FUN! Winter hiking is a blast! Don’t let the above list scare or discourage you. As long as you are physically and mentally prepared things will go great and you will probably get hooked on winter hiking!