The changing of the seasons is a truly magical time of year in the beautiful state of Virginia. As the temperatures drop, all the bugs and mosquitoes grow quiet, and the best time for hiking in the year arrives. You’ll be itching to get outdoors and see all the beautiful sights of winter months, but be sure you’re prepared for the adventure. Here are my tips for hiking during colder months.
1. Stay hydrated
Even though the weather is cooler and you feel you sweat less, staying hydrated while hiking during this time is very important. You still expel and use water while you exercise, even if you don’t feel like you do, which can lead to dehydration creeping up on you. It’s important to bring plenty of water with you on the hike and hydrate well before departing.
2. Dress in layers
The weather is very unpredictable during the colder months. It can be freezing in the morning, sweltering in the middle of the day, and mild at sunset. To avoid freezing or overheating, it’s best to dress in layers so you can perfectly match any weather scenario. A moisture-wicking base layer, fleece pullover, jacket, and rain jacket are essentials.
3. Be aware of daytime hours
Each year the clocks fall back, and the sunset moves up an hour. It’s easy to get caught in the woods if you forget the time change, and nightfall sneaks up on you. Be sure to plan your hike to avoid being caught in the woods after sunset. Bring a headlamp at all times.
4. Wear sunscreen
Even though the weather is cooler and the sun feels less harsh, it is still possible to get sunburned. Be sure to apply sunscreen before departing on your hike.
5. Take safety precautions
Hiking can be a delightful and relaxing hobby, but some potential disasters and dangers can occur while out in the wilderness that you can take steps to mitigate. Bringing your cellphone, GPS, or map with you is crucial to prevent you from getting lost, and it is also a good idea to bring a first-aid kit. Lastly, tell your friends or family details of where you will be hiking and when you expect to return home, and instruct them to call for help if they do not hear from you by a certain time.
6. Be aware of the hunting season
The cooling temperatures usher in hunting season, which could impact your trip. Research the area you want to hike beforehand to see if there are any trail closures or detours. Try to avoid hiking at sunrise or sunset since those are the most active hunting times. Also, wear brighter colors and if you are hiking with your dog, be sure to dress them in bright colors as well.
Hiking during the cold months is an incredibly rewarding experience. The cooling temperatures and beautiful leaves or snow create the best atmosphere for adventure, and it’s a great idea to take advantage of that! Plan ahead and take precautions to ensure your hiking trip is an enjoyable and unforgettable experience.