I sat on the lakeshore today and watched a bald eagle catch thermals – floating up higher and higher. I love to watch these magnificent birds cruise carelessly along the air currents. Bald eagle spotting is one of many reasons why winter hiking rocks.
I live in the South, Arkansas to be exact, and bald eagles are one of the migratory birds that spend their winters here. We don’t get too many of these birds, that’s why spotting one is special. Several of the state parks on the lakes host tours to help you spot them.
But when you are solo hiking to relax and think and you spot one, it’s extra special.
Winter is actually my favorite time to hike in Arkansas. And I know you are thinking, “It’s Arkansas, it doesn’t get that cold.” But to be honest with you, I actually love hiking in freezing temperatures too. And I wish it got below freezing more often here.
For a post on winter kayaking click here.
In addition to the above mentioned bald eagle sighting, winter hiking rocks in several other ways.
1. No bugs
Well not as many bugs. In the South we can get some warm days, and they come out a little. But it’s not near as many as summer. I loath ticks and chiggers.
2. Open woods
I love it when the woods open up, and you can get glimpses of vistas during the leaf-off season. But I also love the feel of the open woods and the colors of the yellow understory with pops of green ferns and mosses.
3. Cooler temps
Here in the South it can get not only hot in the summer, but it can drown you in humidity. A beautiful blue sky day hiking in the open woods is priceless. You can always add layers to keep warm if it gets really cold.
4. Less people
Because it’s outside the tourist and summer vacation season, the number of people hiking in the woods drops. One exception to this is modern gun deer season. However, I have never run into a deer hunter on the trail. Just remember to wear your blaze orange.
5. Less snakes
I have seen a few snakes sunning on warmer winter days, but snakes are less active in the winter. So you don’t have to worry about accidentally stepping on one as much.
I love being in the woods no matter what time of year it is, but in the summer I general choose another outdoor activity like kayaking or swimming in the lake. Winter is really where I get most of my long hikes in.
If you need help getting outdoors when it’s cold outside, the Hike Like A Woman team have put together an amazing class, Introduction to Winter Hiking and Camping. It’s a series of four online classes that help you answer questions about getting outdoors in the winter. If you sign up, you get to hear me talk about how to properly dress for winter hiking. Being properly dressed make a huge difference in how comfortable you are.
To register for the course click here.