Winter Hiking Tips for Outdoor Enthusiasts Visiting Walker, MN

Winter Hiking Tips for Outdoor Enthusiasts Visiting Walker, MN

January 17, 2023

Winter hiking

One great thing about visiting northern Minnesota is all of the amazing places to go hiking. Whether you’re a fan of the North Country Trail, Shingobee Connection Trail, Paul Bunyan State Forest, Heartland Trail, the Stony Point Loop in Chippewa National Forest, or any other of the numerous trails in the area, there are so many places to explore. Exploring doesn’t have to stop simply because it’s winter, either. 

If you’re still interested in going on hiking adventures, even on cold winter days, then check out these winter hiking tips!

Tips for hiking in the winter

While hiking between December and April is a great way to get outside and enjoy the beautiful winters we have here in Minnesota, it’s important that you do it safely. Between cold temperatures, short days, and untrustworthy snow, you must know what to expect and how to prepare before embarking on your journey. 

Here are some tips we recommend following:

1. Be prepared

While this one seems obvious, there are several things you need to keep in mind before heading out on the trails. Some of these things according to the National Park Service include:

  • Wearing the right clothes – base layers, extra layers, and waterproof outer shells, proper footwear, sunscreen, and eye protection
  • Have maps of where you’re going and a compass on-hand in case your phone doesn’t get reception
  • Figure out what the weather forecast for the day is 
  • Look up the trail conditions before getting on them
  • Let people know your plans so they know where you’re going to be and when you should be back

Taking these extra steps will ensure that you have a fun hiking experience and that you return safely from it!

2. Bring the essentials

The American Hiking Society notes there are ten hiking essentials you need to bring with you every time you hit the trails regardless of what season it is. Some of these include extra food, extra water, a first-aid kit, and miscellaneous safety items. To check out the full list, take a look at their website!

Furthermore, hiking in the winter means bringing some extras that you don’t necessarily need while hiking in the months that don’t have snow on the ground including snowshoes, other winter traction devices, and hiking poles. 

3. Know the dangers of winter hiking

Common dangers that come with winter hiking include winter dehydration and hypothermia. While hiking, no matter how cold it is outside, you’re likely going to be sweating underneath your clothing. This will not only cause you to lose hydration, but it will also cause you to be wearing wet clothes in potentially negative-degree weather. 

To combat this, North Country Trail recommends wearing removable layers that can be removed while you’re hiking and put back on when you stop. With this, you should also bring extra clothes to change into whenever you start to sweat through what you’re wearing. 

4. Keep in mind these tips

In addition to all the above-listed information, there are a variety of other winter hiking tips you need to keep in mind before you head out on the trails including:

  • Go hiking with friends and fellow hikers instead of alone
  • Don’t rely on the tracks of other people as you don’t know where they’re going
  • Leave other tracks alone so those hikers can use their tracks if needed
  • Stay off of ice
  • Ensure you have a headlamp in case you get stuck on a trail after the sun goes down 
  • When in doubt, turn around and head back

In conclusion

Walker, MN is located near several great and popular trails that are just as (if not more) fun to hike in the winter as they are in the spring, summer, and fall! However, it can be more dangerous and your safety is the most important to us. Contact us to talk about booking your trip to the Leech Lake area or head over to our blog to check out ice fishing and some other favorites to do and places to stay while you visit us.

Happy hiking!

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