For many, hiking is a three-season sport. Come winter, some of the most dedicated hikers hang up their boots and turn to skiing or a warm gym to get their fitness fix. But all the reasons you have for avoiding winter hikes—snow, ice, biting temps—are precisely why it’s a great time to hit those emptier trails.
Winter often revamps landscapes into an entirely different world, one that’s more mesmerizing in many ways than between spring and fall—let alone crowded summer. With the right clothing and gear, like snowshoes, the U.S. is home to some of the best winter hikes in the world.
Make sure to check weather conditions and take the necessary safety precautions before heading out. Tune into avalanche conditions, bring plenty of warm layers, or simply head to those warmer parts of the country that experience a milder form of “winter.” For some (you know who you are), this last strategy may remain the best winter hiking option of all—but thankfully it’s not the only one.
Whether you want to revel in winter in Northern Idaho or escape it in the Maui backcountry, these top winter hiking destinations are a shoo-in.
1. Adirondacks, NY
Dubbed the “never-never land of winter wonder,” New York’s Adirondack Mountains are filled with winter hiking trails that offer an otherworldly experience. This East Coast region offers deep snow and solitude throughout the winter months for hikers to explore. Check out Barnes Corners hiking trails, which are a series of loops that wind through pine and spruce forests. For a bit more of a challenge, Whiteface Mountain’s signature 9.3-mile out-and-back trail offers unbeatable winter vistas from the 4,867-foot summit.
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