Make the Most of Winter Hiking

Winter Mountain HikingHiking in winter can be fun as long as you prepare properly. Hop on the 470 and head south to South Valley Park for a great hike with views of the red rocks, wildlife, and meadows. Time it so you can enjoy the sunset, which can be stunning. Just make sure you follow these guidelines so you stay warm and safe while you are out.

  • Wear the right clothes. This means layering so you can choose the right amount of protection from cold while not getting overheated. Don’t wear cotton; it absorbs water but holds the dampness against your skin, which can put you at risk for hypothermia. Try wearing three layers:  moisture-wicking inner layer, insulating middle, and wind-proofing outer layer. Don’t forget a hat, mittens or warm gloves, scarves, and extra socks (also moisture-wicking).

  • Wear the right footwear. Keeping your feet warm is important, but so is your safety. High boots keep out the snow, but snow shoes help keep you on top of it and save your energy. Staying in lower elevations may be better yet, so you can use hiking boots with good tread or crampons to keep your footing in icy spots. Use poles, too, to better maintain your balance.

  • Bring high-energy snacks. You use more calories to keep your body warm and extra energy when walking in snow, so make sure you have enough fuel. Put snacks in an inner pocket so they don’t freeze.

  • Drink enough water. Keep it from freezing with an insulated bag or even take a thermos of hot coffee or soup to warm you up on a long hike.

If a delightful afternoon at South Valley Park isn’t enough of a challenge for you, you can try a more adventurous mountain hike. This takes weeks of training and conditioning, though, so don’t try it if you are a novice. Go with an expert buddy, especially in winter, and avoid overextending yourself.

No matter what type of hike you choose, know the dangers and be prepared for emergencies. Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center can give you winter foot care tips and evaluate whether your feet and legs are up to the task of hiking in the snow. Give us a call at (303) 423-2520 and set up an appointment at our Wheat Ridge, Golden, Evergreen, or Granby office.

Photo credit: aatlas via

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