Winter Hikes: 7 Great Reasons to Get Outdoors

If you’ve ever hiked the Shawangunk Ridge you know that it provides one of the most scenic backdrops in the region.  However, what you might not know is that some of the best hiking can be found during the coldest months of the year.  Crazy you say?  Well, surprisingly enough there are many great reasons to get outdoors and hike this winter.  Here are just seven of them.

1    No Bugs

During the winter months (after the first frost) the trail is devoid of mosquitoes, ticks and other annoying insects.

2    No Bears or Snakes

It’s comforting to know that the chance of encountering a black bear or venomous snake during a winter hike is highly unlikely.  Snakes, like most cold blooded animals, go into hibernation during the months of October and November and black bears usually settle in for their long winter nap by January 1st.

3    Superior Views

With less foliage on the trees, expansive views that were once blocked by thick plant life unfold before you; providing superior views of the landscape and indigenous wildlife.

4    Boosted Mood

Studies have shown that getting outdoors for a winter jog will provide a dose of mood-boosting endorphins, which can aid in fending off Seasonal Effective Disorder (SAD); a type of depression often associated with the lack of sunlight experienced during the winter months.

5    Smaller Crowds

Parks in general experience a smaller turnout during the winter months, allowing for a quieter and more intimate connection with your surroundings. 

6    Seasonal Activities

Hiking the ridge during the winter provides hikers of all ages with numerous activities not available during peak season.  Build a snow man, investigate animal tracks left in the snow or have a crack at snow shoeing!

7    A Vacation for Your Brain

Disconnecting from social media and other forms of technology, like cell phones, lap tops and iPods, can provide the brain with some much needed down time; restoring the circuitry responsible for complex cognitive behavior and decision making.