Rachael Hilderbrand, Author at Urban Outdoors
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Rachael Hilderbrand

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No matter the season, the Buckeye State is full of amazing and picturesque hikes and places to explore. While there aren’t many towering mountains or steep elevation hikes, Ohio is a unique state for hiking: from waterfront views at Lake Erie to walks along the Ohio River, there are gorgeous forests, rock formations, and scenic views throughout the state. From snowy winter scenes to beautiful spring flowers, summer swim spots to stop at and gorgeous fall foliage; Ohio offers scenic hiking for all. Whether you’re visiting one of the three C cities (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati) or somewhere in-between, check out our list of the best hikes in Ohio to plan your next outdoor adventure!

A beautiful stone bridge in Hocking Hills State Park, located on one of the best hikes in Ohio.

Buckeye Trail

  • Trail Length: 1,440-mile recreational path
  • Elevation Gain: Varies

As one of the longest and most famous trails in the state, one of the best areas for hiking in Ohio is the Buckeye Trail: a 1,440-mile loop across the entire state of Ohio. While some people hike end-to-end, most people hop and and off in different parts around the state. Starting in the northeast, the trail goes through Cleveland, Akron, West Virginia, Hocking Hills, Cincinnati, Dayton, and finally heads north nearly to Toledo, where the trail finally crosses back to Cleveland.

The Buckeye Trail has sections that are rated easy, moderate, and difficult. It’s fairly easy to follow with blue markers and goes through a variety of Ohio’s quaint small towns. You can pick a stretch to hike or do a multi-day hike, camping along the way and stopping over in Ohio’s small towns along the way. Our favorite part of the trail is the section that runs through Hocking Hills as it connects with so many other great hikes in Ohio.

Easy Hiking in Ohio

Conkles Hollow Gorge Trail – Rockbridge, Ohio

  • Trail Length: 1.1 mile
  • Elevation Gain: 82ft

As one of the most family-friendly hikes in Hocking Hills, Conkles Hollow Gorge features beautiful views of the rocky landscape and nearby waterfalls. If you want to extend your hike. Conkles Hollow Gorge is a beautiful and serene place to visit after snowfall or during the fall with all of Ohio’s gorgeous foliage. While visiting Conkles Hollow you can also explore the Conkles Hollow East and West Rim Trail loop!

Plateau Trail – Cuyahoga Valley National Park

  • Trail Length: 4.4 mile
  • Elevation Gain: 318 ft

Known to many as one of the best easy hikes in Ohio, this trail is located in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Along the way, you’ll pass by a beautiful waterfall, a pond, and several rows of gorgeous pines. Well-maintained and easy to follow, the trail is accessible all year long and is perfect for bird watching or even a trail run.

Horseshoe Falls – Caesar State Park, Waynesville, Ohio 

  • Trail Length: 1.7 miles 
  • Elevation Gain: 88ft

This beautiful out and back trail is located in Caesar State Park near Waynesville, Ohio. The trail is perfect for all skill levels and follows along a beautiful creek, lake, and as the name suggests a small waterfall. It’s a perfect hike for young children as well.

Nelson’s Ledges Trail – Nelson Kennedy Ledges State Park, Garretsville, Ohio

  • Trail Length: 1.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 101ft

Want to visit a trail that nearly transports you outside of Ohio? The Nelson’s Ledges hike offers great views of rock formations and ledges and passes a beautiful waterfall. Along the way, you’ll also pass through beautiful forested areas between the ledges and caves. The trail can be somewhat rugged along its ledges and through the caves, so be especially careful when hiking in wet conditions or when the trail is muddy. Because of its unique cliff views, some hikers have commented that it’s hard to believe that it’s actually in Ohio! We recommend this trail in the fall to take in all the beautiful foliage around these ledges and cliffs. 

Dripping Rock & Overlook Trail – Columbus, Ohio

  • Trail Length: 5.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 354 feet

Dripping Rock & Overlook Trail is located right in the heart of Columbus. This trail, which is located in Highbanks Metro Park, will transport you from traffic and buildings to beautiful forests, meadows, and creeks. It’s a beautiful, picturesque escape that you can explore even if you don’t want to go too far out of the city to find nature. 

Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve – Cleveland, Ohio

  • Trail Length: 2.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

There’s no better way to get a scenic view of both the city and Lake Erie than along Cleveland’s Lakefront Nature Preserve. This park and trail offers a great option for all levels of hikers to explore some green space and nature, admire the lake, and the city at the same time. This trail is one of the best in Ohio because it offers an escape from the busy city life in Cleveland without having to go far. Take in the beautiful teals colors of Lake Erie in the summer and the greenery all around you.

Moderate & Difficult Hikes in Ohio

Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, & Ash Cave – Hocking Hills State Park – Logan, Ohio

  • Trail Length: 12.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,243 feet

There’s a reason Hocking Hills is one of Ohio’s most popular places for weekend trips – it’s got some of the best hiking in the state. While visiting Hocking Hills, tackle the 12.3-mile loop to visit Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, and Ash Cave. This loop is known as one of the best hikes in Ohio, passing by gorgeous rock formations, beautiful waterfalls, quaint bridges, and spooky tunnels. With over 1,000 feet in elevation gain, the trail will definitely get your blood pumping.

The trail can also be shortened to just visit around one of the three locations, Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, or Ash Cave, or a combination of two locations. This hike is our absolute favorite hike in Ohio, and we recommend spending a whole weekend in Hocking Hills to experience the area’s unique scenery.

You can see lots of large rock formations while hiking in Ohio, like this one in Hocking Hills State Park.

Ledges Trail – Cuyahoga Valley National Park 

  • Trail Length: 2.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 229 feet

Make sure to visit this beautiful hike in Cuyahoga Valley National Park that takes hikers through 2.6 miles of trails through absolutely magnificent rock formations, caves, and gorgeous wild flowers in the spring. Enjoy a peaceful forest and walk through vertical rock ledges and gorges on this moderately difficult trail. You can add this trail to your list the next time you’re looking for a place to explore outside of Cleveland in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Lanterman’s Mill Trail – Youngstown, Ohio

  • Trail Length: 4.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 223 feet

For a beautiful loop trail just south of Cleveland and not quite in Pennsylvania, we recommend Lanterman’s Mill Trail in Youngstown, Ohio in Mill Creek Metro parts. This trail follows along a lake and also passes an old flour mill from the 1840s, giving the trail its name. The mill and lake offer some scenic photo stops along this moderate loop, but watch out for tricky staircases and tight areas along the rock formations near the mill. 

Ohio & Erie Canal – Cleveland, Ohio 

  • Trail Length: 80 miles total
  • Elevation Gain: Varies

One of our favorite trails in the Cleveland area – the Ohio & Erie Canal trail runs parallel to the Erie Canal for 80 miles from the outskirts of Cleveland and to Zoar via Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  You can go for a stroll, bike ride, or run along different parts of this 80-mile trail. 

Stamford House to Brandywine Falls Trail –  Cuyahoga Valley National Park

  • Trail Length: 3.9 miles 
  • Elevation Gain: 554 feet

One of the best places for hiking in Ohio, this 3.9 mile trail is one of the most popular and scenic hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The trail’s main landmark is the beautiful Brandywine Falls. This trail connects to the Brandywine Gorge Trail, adding another mile onto your hike. With scenic boardwalks and trails that lead to breathtaking waterfalls, the Brandywine Falls and Brandywine Gorge trail is a quintessential Ohio hiking trail that’s perfect for hikers of all levels. Note that this trail does get very crowded, so be sure to go early or on weekdays to avoid the crowds.

Jacobs Ladder and Christmas Rocks Trail Christmas Rocks Nature Park 

  • Trail Length: 4.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 719 feet

Jacob’s Ladder and Christmas Rocks Trail is a  4-mile loop that is a fantastic trail to hike when visiting Christmas Rocks Nature Park. Along the way, the trail passes an adorable covered bridge and rock formations.  Well maintained with beautiful summit views, this trail we recommend visiting during the fall when the leaves are changing colors. 

Arches Fork Trail – Wayne National Forest between Logan and  Athens, Ohio

  • Trail Length: 12.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1935 feet

Archers Fork Trail is an absolutely beautiful hike located near Hocking Hills State Park. The trail is a nearly 13-mile loop that pases a number of towering rock formations, a natural bridge, and a cave. If you want even more adventures, it’s worth checking out more of Wayne National Forest when visiting the area. 

Hemlock Gorge Loop – Mohican State Park

  • Trail Length: 11.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1247 feet

With lovely views of Mohican State Park, the Hemlock Gorge Loop is a great hike to check out between Cleveland and Columbus. This moderate to difficult trail traverses a number of hills and passes a covered bridge. One of our favorite things about this trail and the Mohican State Park area are the tree house cabins you can stay in for multi-day hiking. 

Glen Helen, Little Miami & Clifton Gorge – Glen Helen Nature Preserve

  • Trail Length: 11.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 977 feet

The Glen Helen, Little Miami, and Clifton Gorge trail is an 11-mile loop located near Yellowspring, Ohio in the Glen Helen Nature Preserve. The trail passes a stunning waterfall and offers picturesque views of the Little Miami River, cliffs, and rock formations. Be careful on some of the hilly inclines after rain, as the rocks can get slippery. The trail is mostly shaded and is a great hike for all seasons. 

Twin Valley Trail – Germantown Metropark

  • Trail Length: 26.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2148 feet

The Twin Valley trail is one of the most popular difficult hikes in Ohio. This 26+ mile trail connects Germantown Metropark and Twin Creek Metropark. You can choose to hike the entire trail between the two parks or shorten it to the trails within one park. The trail offers a wonderful view over the valley area and a significant elevation gain for Ohio, which will definitely get your heart pumping!


Additional Resources

What to Pack

  • Hiking boots – You can’t hike without appropriate footwear, period. For most trails, we recommend an all-purpose waterproof boot with ankle support. We recommend Salomon hiking boots or Keen hiking boots for a comfortable hike.
  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these PrAna hiking pants for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers, an insulated puffer jacket, and a waterproof outer shell. And don’t forget a pair of the best hiking socks in the world!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we recommend throwing them in your car anyway just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond foldable trekking poles, which are lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To spare disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask bottles because they keep water cold for hours, but a good old Nalgene works very well too.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend Osprey day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes.

Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? Visit our Complete Day Hiking Packing List for our full list and our top gear recommendations.

Related Articles

Feeling stuck in the city? Is winter laziness taking over and the couch is your new favorite spot? Are your days feeling too short, too cold, and lacking sunlight? We’ve felt the winter blues. Don’t let the cold and dark stop you from getting outside! Hiking in winter is a great activity to get outdoors, get your body moving, and enjoy some fresh air, even when it’s cold out. We put together our best tips for hiking in snow and ice, as well as our favorite gear recommendations so you can get outside and explore nearby winter wonderlands safely this winter.

Top Tips for Staying Safe and Warm While Hiking in Winter

1. Plan your route & timing in advance

With winter hiking, it’s especially important to plan your route in advance for a few reasons. First, you’ll know where you’re going in the event that trails are covered in snow. Second, you’ll be able to plan the appropriate gear to bring to stay safe and warm on the trail. If you’re going to use a map on your phone, don’t forget to bring a thermal phone case so your phone doesn’t die on the trail from the cold weather! 

You can also check out recent reviews on a website like AllTrails to get an idea of the more recent trail conditions. Based on the reviews, you can determine if it’s a good winter trail option or one whose conditions aren’t favorable. Daylight hours are also shorter in winter, so it’s important to plan your route and hit the trail early to avoid being out in the dark (or bring flashlights and headlamps if you plan to hike in the dark). 

In the winter months, trails with inclines will help keep your body temperature up and keep you warm. You can also plan your route to maximize the about of uphill hiking you’ll be doing.

Winter hiking also tends to take longer than summer hiking as it’s possible to encounter more unexpected obstacles (make sure to avoid routes that require stream crossings) and move a bit slower. Find a trail that matches your experience level and what you need for that day – something flat and easy, longer mileage, a loop trail, or something that takes you up some serious elevation gain for awesome winter views. 

2. Check weather forecasts

After you pick your trail and plan your route, check what the weather forecast looks like for your day so that you can fully plan what gear you need. We usually use AccuWeather for the most up-to-date, accurate forecasts for specific trails or park areas.

Keep in mind also that conditions can often change quickly in the winter months. A forecasted sunny day can sometimes bring snow, rain, or slush up in the mountains! To account for changing weather conditions, we recommend bringing layers of clothes (more recommendations below), not just one big coat so you’re ready to add or decrease layers as needed.

3. Know the risks of hiking in winter

There are certain conditions and risks that result from spending a lot of time hiking in snow. Some of these can cause permanent damage to your body and health, and should be avoided at all costs. Common winter hiking risks include:

  • Hypothermia – Hypothermia is a life-threatening condition that happens when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it. When your body temperature drops below 95 degrees (Fahrenheit), your organs can’t function normally and you’re at risk for heart failure. Yep – it’s extremely scary stuff. You can prevent hypothermia by wearing plenty of warm, thermal layers and bringing extras just in case. We’d also strongly recommend bringing some kind of external heat source, like hand warmers or a water bottle with hot water.
  • Frostbite – Frostbite is an incredibly painful condition that occurs when the skin begins to freeze. It’s most common on the extremities, like fingers, toes, and around your face. The #1 easiest way to prevent frostbite is by wearing coverings on those areas, and providing external heat via hand warmers, heated socks, or heated gloves to those places if they begin to get unbearably cold.
  • Dehydration – Dehydration is always a risk when performing any type of physical activity, but it’s often mistakenly associated with hot temperatures. This is false. Dehydration is just as common in the winter as in the summer, and you can very easily mitigate this risk by packing plenty of water and sipping it as you hike.
  • Wind burn – Wind burn is a condition of the skin that is caused by prolonged exposure to cold, windy conditions. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll get this on your face if you’re hiking in cold temperatures for hours on end. Symptoms include red, painful areas on the skin that can potentially peel (just like sunburn). While this is less serious than some of the other risks on our list, it’s still painful and can be mostly prevented by covering as much of your body and face as you can.

4. Wear lots of layers

When hiking in the winter, you want to layer up, for more reason than one. Why? A number of layers help you to regulate your body heat and protect it from changing weather conditions, no matter what they are. 

In the winter months, you want to be prepared to stay warm, stay dry, be prepared for cold wind, all while keeping yourself from sweating and overheating. There are a lot of different conditions to consider! It’s all about waterproofing your outermost layer and using moisture-wicking clothing as your base layer so you don’t keep sweat next to your body. We recommend the following layers for a winter hike to prepare for all conditions from the innermost layer to the outside layer:

  • Moisture-wicking base layers (top and bottoms) closest to your body to keep sweat away 
  • Warm fleece mid-layer
  • Waterproof shell or ski jacket
  • Hiking pants (read our guides on women’s and men’s hiking pants)
  • Hand warmers
  • Thermal neck gaiter

We’ve got a whole list later in this article with our recommendations for what to wear and bring with you while hiking in the snow. Read on to learn more!

5. Proper winter footwear is crucial 

Just like wearing layers to keep you from getting cold and wet, the key for winter hiking is also footwear that keeps your feet dry. Waterproof boots with good treads that can handle all terrains are a must-have for winter hiking. You can also opt for insulated hiking boots for a bit of extra warmth and protection on extra cold days. Scroll down for some of our favorite boot recommendations!

Socks are another important consideration – when in doubt, wool socks are always a reliable choice to keep your feet warm and dry in the winter.

Aside from boots with good traction and socks that will keep your feet dry, you can also add micro spikes or metal crampons (chains or metal spikes that attach to the bottom of your shoes) to give your better traction on icy terrains.

6. Stay hydrated and bring snacks

You can still get very dehydrated while hiking in winter! Many winter hikers don’t realize they’re getting dehydrated. If you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated so make sure to bring lots of water in your water bottle no matter the season. Dehydration also expedites the start of hypothermia, which is especially important to be aware of in winter outdoor hikes. Exercising in the wintertime also burns more calories, so be sure to bring snacks, an easy-to-go meal, or something for a “pick me up” to keep yourself nourished and warm too.

7. Bring external heat sources

Sometimes, a well-insulated set of outerwear isn’t enough, and you may need some external heat to warm yourself up on especially cold days. For this, we’d recommend hand warmers (either traditional ones or rechargeable electric ones) and toe warmers or heated socks for your feet. If you do a ton of winter hiking, you may want to consider investing in a pair of heated gloves as well to keep your hands nice and toasty all day long.

Another great way to stay warm while hiking in snow is to bring an insulated water bottle with hot water or tea that you can drink to stay warm. We love Hydro Flask for this, and can often be found in the winter lugging around our 40-oz bottle full of warm herbal tea to drink when we’re feeling especially chilly.

Some hikers people even pack a lightweight Jet Boil and a gas canister for especially long hikes so they can heat water along the way. This may be overkill, but it’s an option if you’re planning to be out for a full day and want the option to heat your water or food.

8. When in doubt, play it safe

Sometimes, the weather takes an unpredictable turn or a trail looks a lot more dangerous than you expected. There’s only so much you can control, especially in the winter when conditions can be quite inhospitable. When you’re hiking in winter, you can come across dangerous situations like avalanches, black ice, high winds, and more, and these dangers are heightened when you take unnecessary risks.

If you show up for a hike and it looks dangerous, don’t do it. Or, if you’re on a hike and there’s a section that looks impassable, turn around. Follow your gut and your instincts as a hiker. While hiking in snow is usually perfectly safe, there’s no point in risking your safety or health to do something that looks dangerous — the trail can wait another day, and your safety should always come first.

9. Pack a dry change of clothes for after your hike

This step for preparation doesn’t require any extra gear; just remember to bring a bag to leave in the car with dry clothes for when you finish the hike! There’s nothing quite as refreshing as finishing a long winter hike and changing into some fresh, clean, and dry clothes. My personal favorite after a hike is a fuzzy sweatshirt and fresh socks. This step is particularly important in case you get wet from sweat or rain on your hike. Being able to get out of your wet clothes will help you get warm much quicker.

What Winter Hiking Gear Should You Have?

Tops

Merino Wool Base Layers

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A good set of thermal base layers is crucial for staying warm and dry underneath your outerwear. While it’s a little bit expensive, Merino wool is our fabric of choice for base layers because it’s warm, breathable, and moisture-wicking. We use and recommend the Smartwool Merino 250 long sleeve top for all of your winter adventures.

Check prices: Women’s Version | Men’s Version

Fleece or Puffer Mid-Layer

Order on Patagonia | Backcountry | REI

A mid-layer is a very important item to have, especially when the temperatures drop. Good mid-layers are made of either Merino wool or fleece, which provide a thick thermal layer between your outerwear and your base layers. Our pick for the best fleece sweater that will keep you warm and last for many hikes to come is Patagonia’s 1/4 Zip Better Sweater – it’s super warm, cozy, and durable for cold days on the trails.

Check prices: Women’s Version | Men’s Version

Order on Patagonia | Backcountry | REI

Some hikers prefer a down puffer jacket as a mid-layer instead of fleece, which is usually heavier and thicker. Our favorite down mid-layer is the Patagonia Down Sweater, which fits like a glove and traps heat in a super lightweight shell.

Check prices: Women’s Version | Men’s Version

Waterproof Outer Shell or Ski Jacket

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Having an outer shell jacket that keeps you warm and dry is an absolute necessity while hiking in snow. While there are tons of options for outerwear that’s suitable for the cold, we especially love Burton jackets. Originally made for snowboarders, these jackets offer excellent protection from the elements without being too bulky.

If you’re in the market for a winter coat that you can also ski and snowboard in, check out our guide to the best ski jackets.

Bottoms

Base Layer

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When it comes to base layers, don’t forget about your legs! For keeping your legs warm, we recommend the corresponding Smartwool Merino 250 bottoms. These are excellent, form fitting bottoms made of Merino wool that can be worn underneath your favorite pair of hiking pants.

Check prices: Women’s Version | Men’s Version

Comfortable Hiking Pants

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In cold weather, it’s important to layer up on your legs as well as your upper body. That’s why we always recommend wearing a base layer legging underneath hiking pants. Our go-to hiking pants are from PrAna – the Halle Pants for women and the Brion Pants for men. These all-purpose hiking pants perform excellently on trails, and work for all seasons, not just winter.

Check prices: Women’s Version | Men’s Version

Footwear

Waterproof Hiking Boots

Order on: Salomon | Backcountry | REI | Amazon

We love and highly recommend Salomon hiking boots for all of your winter adventures. They’ve got super durable, uppers and fantastic treads on the soles for all kinds of terrain and weather. They’ve got a variety of different choices, but their waterproof boots are your best bet for wet and frozen winters.

If you get cold toes easily or just want an extra protective layer on your feet for your winter adventures, we’d recommend considering a pair of insulated hiking boots.

Crampons or Micro Spikes

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You may need additional traction on your feet if you’re going to be hiking in icy areas. Opt for a pair of micro spikes or crampons to get that extra leverage in slippery areas. Micro spikes are a bit milder and less jagged than crampons, but they’re often more lightweight.

For hiking on icy terrain, we recommend Yaktrax ICEtrekkers Diamond Grip Traction Cleats. They easily fit any boot style and size to keep you from sliding on the ice.

Other Outerwear & Gear for Hiking in Snow

Warm Hat or Hood

A good head covering is a very important piece of gear for winter hiking to protect your head and ears from the cold. You can opt for a thermal hat – any warm winter beanie will do – or a jacket with a hood that’s insulated. The most important thing is keeping your head warm with something comfortable!

Thermal Neck Gaiter

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A thermal neck warmer or neck gaiter can help reduce the risk of windburn and frostbite on your face and neck. We’ve got an entire guide on thermal neck warmers & gaiters that are great for cold weather. The bottom line? Our favorite for winter hiking is the Smartwool 250 Neck Gaiter.

Gloves

A good pair of gloves will keep your hands and fingers dry too so they don’t have to stay bundled up in your jacket. You may need to use your hands to climb in some difficult hiking areas with snow, so waterproof gloves are absolutely necessary for hiking in snow.

Luckily, we’ve got a complete guide on the best winter gloves to keep your hands toasty and warm. You may also want to consider rechargeable heated ski gloves if your hands get extra cold in the winter.

Sunglasses

If you are hiking in snow, you may find that the sun is even more intense than during other times of year as it reflects off the snow on the ground. Bring your favorite pair of sunglasses or snag a pair of ski-specific sunglasses for winter wear!

Hand Warmers

Hand warmers are great for winter hiking because they provide additional heat inside of your gloves or pockets. They’re usually small and fit easily in tight spaces. You can buy a pack of traditional hand warmers from HotHands, but if you hike often, we’d recommend grabbing a pair of rechargeable hand warmers that you can use over and over again on the trails.

Thermal Water Bottle

Like we mentioned earlier, we strongly recommend having a thermal, insulated water bottle to keep hot water during your winter hikes. All of our go-to thermal drinkware is from Hydro Flask – they come in all different sizes and colors for wherever your adventures may bring you. Our Hydro Flasks keep water nice and hot for several hours, which is a great way to warm yourself up if you’re feeling extra cold.

Trekking Poles

Trekking poles can help provide additional traction and stability on icy and snowy terrain, and are great companions for hiking in snow. We love Black Diamond trekking poles for all of our hiking adventures, year round. They’re collapsible and lightweight, making it easy for you to store them in a backpack when you’re not using them.

Thermal Phone Case

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If you’ve ever been out in the cold with your phone before, you’ll know the battery often drains MUCH more quickly when it’s frigid out. A thermal phone case like this one can help you keep your phone alive on cold days, making sure you have access to a GPS or connectivity in case you need it.

GPS System

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If you’re going to be doing a lot of hiking in winter, you may want to invest in a GPS system to log where you are and follow trails if your phone doesn’t have service or dies in the cold. Plus, when there’s snow on the ground, it can be hard to follow trails and stay on your intended route without some GPS help.

Garmin makes some great GPS options that you can purchase and take along with you so you always know where you’re headed.

Additional Resources

Looking for a gift for the avid hikers and backpackers in your life? We’ve put together a gift guide with 15 of the best books for hikers with a variety of options for all experience levels! These books for backpackers range from offering top hiking guides, to inspiring stories of adventure and perseverance, and must-see trails for your bucket list. After you curl up reading these hiking books, you’ll be ready to pack your bag, lace up your boots, and start your next hiking adventure.

Bucket List Books for Hikers

100 Hikes of a Lifetime: The World’s Ultimate Scenic Trails by Kate Siber 

This book is at the top of the best books for hikers because it is the ultimate bucket list of must-see trails for hikers and backpackers. The scenic photography adds to extensive travel information from well-known trails in North America to off-the-beaten-path trails in Micronesia, Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Australia, and more. From short day hikes to multi-week adventures across all climates and continents, this book will keep you planning to check all of these adventures off your bucket list. We’ve explored a few of these locations and can’t wait to see more!

100 Parks, 5,000 Ideas: Where to Go, When to Go, What to See, What to Do by Joe Yogerst 

Add these 100 parks to your bucket list of where to explore next! 100 Parks, 5,000 Ideas shares trails and tips of the best national, state, and city parks, in the U.S. and Canada. The gorgeous National Geographic photographs complement the detailed travel advice and insider tips for hiking, camping, and adventuring through North America. This detailed book provides both inspiration and information to plan your next U.S. based trip – a must-read book for hikers looking to explore more of North America. We’re already planning our next U.S. trek using the tips from this book!

Fifty Places to Hike Before You Die: Outdoor Experts Share the World’s Greatest Destinations by Chris Santella

One of our favorite books for backpackers, Fifty Places To Hike Before You Die,  shares the fifty best hiking locations in the world and serves as a guide to add new destinations to your bucket list. Top expedition leaders share some of the world’s greatest walking adventures in unique destinations from Rwanda to Tibet to Japan to Italy. This book engages you in memorable hikes and immersion in the local culture of each destination. Each chapter provides insider tips and commentary from expert expedition leaders taking you off the beaten path of these unique locations. 

Walking Distance by Robert E. Manning

Walking Distance is a simple book that offers tips on thirty of the greatest long-distance hikes around the world. The book covers trails on six different continents and shares personal anecdotes and useful advice about each region’s history and culture. Walking Distance encourages us all to take a break from our complex and frantic lives to explore nature and reconnect with one of the most sustainable forms of recreation: hiking. 

Classic Hikes of North America: 25 Breathtaking Treks in the United States and Canada by Peter Potterfield

Classic Hikes of North America is a must have book for hikers with over 200 beautiful photographs and detailed information about the greatest backcountry hikes in the U.S. and Canada. This inspiring book keeps both beginners and avid hikers in mind with information about each trails’ level of difficulty, recommended seasons, and trail conditions. Make sure to add these trails to your bucket list of hikes in North America: from the North Cascades of Washington State to the Canadian Rockies.

Hiking Books For Women

Wild by Nature: From Siberia to Australia, Three Years Alone in the Wilderness on Foot by Sarah Marquis

Wild by Nature shares the story of a woman who solo hiked 10,000 miles, through 6 countries, with 8 pairs of hiking boots, over three years. National Geographic Explorer Sarah Marquis traveled across the remote Gobi desert from Siberia to Thailand, and then travelled by boat to complete her hike in Australia. The amount of challenges Sarah overcomes in unimaginable. From subzero to scorching hot temperatures, disease and illness like dengue fever and tropical ringworm, and a number of interesting characters along the way, Sarah overcame it all. Marquis’ adventure is an inspiring story of resilience and persistence. We can’t wait to plan our next trek abroad in one of the gorgeous places Sarah explored!

Women Who Hike: Walking with America’s Most Inspiring Adventurers by Heather Balogh Rochfort

Women Who Hike is an inspiring book for female hikers of all ages which is why it made our list of best-hiking books. The book highlights over twenty of the most inspiring female adventures in the U.S. and tells each of their stories in their own words. Highlighting favorite trails and personal challenges, this book covers both tips for the trails and in day to day life. This book is perfect for the female adventurers in your life! We hope to run into some of these amazing ladies on future adventures!

Wild by Cheryl Strayed 

Wild is a story of adventure that will keep you engaged, laughing, and sitting on the edge of your seat. Wild is the honest memoir of Cheryl Strayed and her journey along the Pacific Crest Trail on a solo hike after struggling with her mother’s death and her own marriage falling apart. She hit the trail alone with little experience as a long-distance hiker. Cheryl shares her story facing the beauty, loneliness, and challenges that life threw her way on and off the trail. Cheryl’s story truly inspired us to keep exploring as life truly is all about the journey. 

She Explores: Stories of Life-Changing Adventures on the Road and in the Wild by Gale Straub

She Explores is an inspiring book that shares the personal narratives of 40 diverse women and their journeys in nature. From hikers to women constantly on the move with road trips, backpackers, van-lifers, their narratives share inspiration and empowering stories as women who want to travel the world. This book offers inspiration through stories and adventure. It includes tips from preparing for your first solo hike, to how to pack your road-trip kitchen, and how to tell your own story. We’re excited to try some of these tips on our next solo hikes! We recommend this book for backpackers and outdoorsy women looking to reconnect with nature, find community, and take a leap forward into a new journey. 

Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson 

Tracks features the journey of Robyn Davidson’s 1,700-mile trek across the Australian desert. Tracks is a powerful memoir documenting her dangerous solo journey. As a compelling and honest story of transformation, adventure, and discovery, Davidson shares the highs and lows of her adventure. One of the best books for female hikers, Davidson inspires readers that solo hikes, even in excruciating circumstances, are rewarding adventures.  

Inspiring and Adventurous Hiking Stories

Small Feet Big Land by Erin McKittrick

A must read book for hikers with adventure seeking families! Small Feet Big Land follows the journey of a family of four through the beautiful yet harsh remote wilderness of Alaska. Erin and her husband, Hig, walk along Alaska’s rapidly changing coastline with their toddler and newborn baby. Not only do they share their story of adventure exploring across one of Alaska’s largest glaciers and through remote Arctic villages, but Erin and Hig share the drastic effects of climate change on the Alaskan landscape. The experiences of this adventurous family will 100% keep you entertained through every page: whether it’s their grizzly bear encounters, eating whale blubber, or exploring a remote arctic village. This family inspired us to keep seeking adventure!

 Lost On The Appalachian Trail by Kyle S Rohrig

This adventurous and inspiring story shares the emotions related to the wonder and hardships that Kyle faced along every step of his 2,185 mile journey hiking the Appalachian Trail. The book is told in a humorous and moving way that not only details Kyle’s growth and learning process but brings you along with him as if you were joining him along the way. All over the world readers love this story of a hiker that will teach, motivate, and simply inspire you to get outside. 

Trespassing Across America by Ken Ilgunas

An inspiring book for hikers passionate about global warming, Trespassing Across America  is a story of adventure, a story of pushing limits physically and mentally, and a story reflecting on the impacts of climate change. Ken Ilgunas leads us through his memoir along the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline in 2012. After hitchhiking from Denver to Alberta, he began his 1,700 mile hike through mostly private property along the proposed Keystone XL pipeline path to its end in the Gulf Coast of Texas. 

Through Ken’s journey he shares the stories of strange encounters with colorful characters and animals, changing weather, and challenging trails. He questions our personal responsibility as stewards of the land and as members of a rapidly warming planet through his travel memoir and reflection on climate change.

A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson, an absolutely entertaining guide, takes his readers through some of the most breathtaking views along the Appalachian Trail. From Georgia to Maine and through mountains, forests, and lakes, Bill shares not only the history and ecology of the trail but also the hardships every hiker faces. This adventurous book is on our list of best books for backpackers dreaming of exploring the Appalachian Trail. 

Books for Hikers to Reconnect with Themselves

Wilderness, The Gateway To The Soul: Spiritual Enlightenment Through Wilderness by Scott Stillman

This book provides inspiration to pause, get outside, and reconnect to nature. An inspiring adventure and also self-help book encouraging its readers to pause from the pressures of society with work, obligations, technology, and stress to escape the chaos to find untamed freedom and happiness in nature. Learn more about yourself by immersing in nature and having that pause to connect with Earth and find happiness. This book is one of the best books for hikers looking to learn how to reconnect with themselves through nature. We’ll definitely be taking this book on our next adventure and escape. 

We’ll definitely be cozying up with some of these books this year, and we’d recommend them for anyone looking for practical tips or inspiration. We hope they inspire you too to add new trails to your bucket list and to start your next big hiking adventure. Let us know which one(s) you end up reading, or if we’re missing any hiking books that you love! 

Additional Resources