A Guide to the US’ Best Winter Hikes
From the snow-covered to the low-season to the Hawaiian
The National Park Service announced last week that they’ll be waiving park fees 16 days in 2016 in celebration of their 100th anniversary.
The first of those days? This Monday, January 18th, aka Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
So instead of hunkering down for a three-day session of Making a Murderer and Chill, strap on your best gravel-kickers and break a trail. Here are nine around the country that can stand up to January.
These hikes through the Chisos Mountains offers views of the desert valley, the Rio Grande and Mexico beyond. Cobbling together a tour of the South Rim (about 14 miles) makes for a long but manageable day hike. You might recognize the landscape from the final scenes of Boyhood.
Image via ThingLink
Warren Peak via Black Rock
Joshua Tree National Park, CA
Joshua Tree is fearsomely hot in the summer — so save this hike, a 5.5-mile out-and-back to the top of Warren Peak, for the winter months, when highs generally max out in the 70s. From the top, you’ll get views of the Coachella Valley and San Jacinto Mountains.
Rent snowshoes at the gift shop to tramp through a winter wonderland with spectacular views on sunny days and a fairy-tale vibe on snowy ones. You’ll need chains to access the park. Newbies (and kids) can sign up for snowshoeing classes with Park Rangers.
This four-mile loop sets off from a rainforest to cross a still-steaming lava bed, with the trail marked by the Hawaiian version of cairns, called ahu.
Within easy striking distance for 10 million New Yorkers, the Palisades can be magical in winter — especially with snow falling over the city, visible just across the Hudson River. Bonus: Summer crowds are busy Netflixing. Avoid Giant Stairs, a rock scramble that can get slippery, in favor of snowshoeing the upper-level clifftop trails.
Strap on your snowshoes for this 1.4-mile hike along the Appalachian Trail to Table Rock, an expansive ledge offering views of Grafton Notch State Park and the valley below.
Image via Wikipedia
Bear Valley Trail
Point Reyes National Seashore, CA
The Bear Valley Trail is the most popular at Point Reyes for a reason: it’s spectacular, passing from Douglas fir forest to the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean.
Small kids might be happiest doing a driving tour of the Everglades and neighboring Big Cypress National Preserve, with boundless opportunities for wildlife-spotting — otherwise, set off on this 7.5 hike through the swamp, best discovered in winter’s cooler temps.
Image via Big Islands Hikes
Mauna Kea Summit Trail
Mauna Kea, HI
Not technically on the National Park circuit but we couldn’t help ourselves — it’s one of the country’s most
breathtaking landmarks. The name means “White Mountain,” because snow sometimes shuts down access to Hawaii’s highest point. Otherwise, plan on eight hours to make the 12-mile round-trip hike from a visitor’s center to the high-altitude summit, at 13,800 feet.
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