If you’re looking for US hiking ideas to enjoy the outdoors, don’t overlook the winter months.
Here’s a list of places where you’ll find the best winter hiking in the US that include easy, moderate, or strenuous hikes in the US National Parks, State Parks and Forest Service land.
Some of the best hiking trails in the US are even better during the winter when you can escape the crowds, heat and bugs in the southern regions.
If you’re prepared with winter clothing for hiking, check out the trails you can explore in the cooler northern states of the US!
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It’s important to be prepared with winter hiking gear if you plan to hike trails during the winter season. When preparing for a winter day hike you want footwear, clothing, and traction devices that can be used for a wide range of winter conditions.
The hike to the summit of Diamond Head crater on Oahu is a climb of nearly 600 feet in elevation. While there are some segments of the hike which cut through the crater rock, the majority is exposed and lacking shade. The pleasant warmth of Winter in Hawaii is the perfect time to take on this hike.
Kilauea Iki Trail is a bucket list hike in the Big Island of Hawaii. In this hike you will walk inside a solidified lava lake crater, hike through a rainforest and also visit a huge lava cave. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has excellent tropical weather during winter with the day time temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees F making it ideal for hiking in winter.
Hiking the Chilkoot Trail in Alaska allows you to walk in the same footsteps as the Klondike prospectors. The trail was created in the late 1800s, and the gold seekers endured harsh conditions in winter, to reach the Yukon. Today, you’ll need snowshoes and hiking poles to make the trek, but the US National Park Service and Parks Canada maintain the trail.
The great thing about Seattle, Washington is that you can enjoy hiking all year long. But, if you want an idyllic scenery like no other, try a hiking trail in the Winter when you can enjoy snow covered mountains, frozen waterfalls and some snowshoeing fun. There's nothing like walking in a Winter Winterland!
Thanks to its location along the coastline, Olympic National Park enjoys moderate temperatures all year round and winter is the perfect time to take advantage of that. For example, explore the Shi Shi Beach trail, where you'll snake your way through a marshy forest and eventually onto the shores of a sandy beach. Shi Shi is one of the most dramatic beaches in the park, with a cluster of dramatic sea stacks, called the Point of Arches, towering out of the Pacific Ocean. Best of all, crowds are at their lowest in Olympic during the wintertime- so you're likely to get this epic beach all to yourself!
Death Valley is one of the hottest and driest places on Earth. Daytime temperatures regularly exceed 110 degrees in summer. However, Death Valley provides ideal winter hiking weather with daytime temperatures hovering between 65 and 75.
Easily one of the best winter hikes in the US, the hike to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is an easy, 3.6-mile out-and-back hike that takes you to some of the most stunning alpine terrain in the country. It’s also ideal during winter because unlike many other hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, it remains passable all winter long and takes you to some incredible alpine lakes in the area. If you can ttry and hike another half-mile to Lake Haiayaha and get there it time for sunrise since it really is stunning.
The Tower Arch hike is a good winter hike because you can enjoy the red rocks any time of year. Additionally, even if there is snow or ice, the trail doesn't have any drop offs that could become treacherous in wintery conditions.
If you are looking for great winter hikes, you will find many in Moab, Utah. The Corona Arch is a fantastic winter hike for many different reasons. In the winter, you can avoid the blistering heat from the Summer. The winter is also considered the off-season. This means everything is cheaper and less crowded. The Corona Arch is very popular because it is one of the best hikes in the area that is not in the nearby national parks.
Another fun arch hike in Moab is to Jeep Arch. In the winter, you don't have to compete with the crowds, and you can get the occasional sprinkle of snow, giving you amazing views when contrasting with the red rocks in the area. This is such a beautiful hike, going through a canyon before reaching Jeep Arch.
The best way to experience the white snow against the red rocks is exploring the variousBryce Canyon winter hikes! Due to the high elevation at 8,000 feet, this Utah National Park is a winter wonderland during this time of year. Your packing list should definitely include winter clothing and other gear for hiking in the snow at Bryce Canyon.
The aptly named Fairyland Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park takes you below the rim of the canyon, as the magical-looking pink and orange hoodoos soar overhead. Due to its high elevation, Bryce Canyon can actually get quite a bit of snow and ice, which makes the unique scenery of the park look like something straight out of a fairytale. Just come prepared with some microspikes or even snowshoes in case your visit happens to align with a winter storm, so, regardless of the weather, you can enjoy this stunning trail.
The Angel's Landing Hike, located in Zion National Park, Utah is one of the most spectacular hikes in the US. It is a great hike to do in winter to see Zion Canyon sprinkled in snow. Angel’s Landing is a strenuous climb that will get the adrenaline running through your body but the 360 degree views are absolutely mind-blowing. There are also far less people that visit in the winter so the trail won’t be as crowded as during the warmer months.
Whilst Angels Landing is a fantastic hike to do during winter, it is challenging so do take great care! It is advisable to bring crampons as there can be compacted snow and ice on the trail during the winter months.
Angel’s Landing hike is definitely not for beginner hikers or those with a fear of heights as there are steep drop-offs on either side. Be careful, wear appropriate shoes, take your time going up and down and enjoy the fantastic views!
Great Chamber at Culter Point is a short and fairly easy hike after a long drive to reach it. In the winter, you will want to layer up as you are likely to be in the shade of the cave but warm as you climb through the soft sand to get there. While the area is more peaceful in the winter, it is also less windy in the area in the winter. This makes the experience more enjoyable as it is no fun when the strong spring wind is blowing the sand in your face.
Hiking the Wave in Arizona can be great in winter. While rain or light snow is possible, there is an equal chance for beautiful blue skies. One of the biggest reasons the Wave is a great winter hike is because it's one of the easiest times to win the Wave lottery and actually score a (very hard to get) permit to make this bucket list hike.
White Pocket, Arizona is a great winter hike as you can enjoy the cooler weather. While you are not likely to run into many people there in general, you are even more likely to have the area to yourself in winter.
You can also enjoy some unique winter photos if you go during a time when there is snow on the ground. Snow is not very common in the area, so it is a unique experience to see it in the snow.
The Horseshoe Bend trail in Arizona is among the USA's shortest, most spectacular, and most popular trail routes. It is an easy 1.5-mile-long round hiking trail. The Horseshoe Bend trail takes a sandy and slightly uphill route from the parking lot to the magnificent Horseshoe Bend vista that overlooks the spectacular bend of the Colorado River.
While spring and autumn are the most popular seasons, winter is a great season for hiking Horseshoe Bend in Arizona for fewer crowds and the absence of desert heat. Horseshoe Bend and northern Arizona are cold and chilly in winter and sometimes even snowy. But, the sandy ground of the trail doesn't get icy even in the snowfall. However, when Horseshoe Bend gets snowy, witnessing a snowfall while chilling at the edge of the 1000-foot drop of Horseshoe Bend makes this unique place even more spectacular!
Sedona, Arizona has one of the most interesting phenomena on the planet called an energy vortex. There are special Sedona Vortex hikes where you can combat those winter blues with the highest concentration of that amazing energy, In winter, you will also have a chance to see this beautiful red rock area with a light covering of snow that makes it even more extraordinary.
The Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge trail is one of the best easy hike you can do in the winter when visiting North Idaho. The trail takes you through large fields at first where you can admire the snowy mountains in the backdrop, before taking you into the forest. This trail is stunning in the winter as it will take you through the snow to frozen waterfalls. One thing to look out for on this trail is wildlife. In the winter, you’ll be able to observe hawks, bald eagles, and about 150 elk!
Indiana Dunes National Park has beautiful winter hikes. The midwest is not often known for its elevation, but sand dunes at this national park overlooking Lake Michigan provide exactly that. Take in snowy views from sandy dunes when you complete these trails!
Explore the breathtaking beauty of Michigan winters at Ludington State Park. With 21miles of diverse trails, there are endless hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing opportunities. Spend a day or two exploring Lake Michigan’s shoreline, the Big Sable Lighthouse, wooded trails and sandy forested dunes. Ludington State Park hosts a variety of programs including lantern lit night hikes and free snowshoe rentals. Come fall in love with the Great Lakes State.
The South Rim Loop in Big Bend National Park is a challenging 15 mile day hike in far West Texas. While winter temperatures in Big Bend can get chillier than you might expect, for us desert dwellers it’s still a welcome escape from snowier climes. This particular route features world class views over the entire park and can also be done as an overnight backpacking trip if you want to explore side trails. If you’re really looking to stay warm, an alternative idea is to come down out of the Chisos Mountains to try one of the lower elevation hikes Big Bend has to offer.
This is a great winter trail because in general, Georgia has very mild winters, so the weather stays relatively pleasant year round. Additionally, as this is a permitted trail and only 100 permits are given out per day, demand is much lower in winter and it's easier to secure a permit and enjoy the trail in solitude.
The Anhinga Trail in Everglades National Park in Florida is a great hike for all ages. The trail is mostly boardwalks through marshes, past lakes and rivers, and over grasslands. This is one of the best places in the Everglades to spot wildlife such as alligators, turtles, fish, and large birds like anhinga, herons, osprey, and egrets. And since it is located in south Florida it is a great winter hike, when the weather is a little cooler there aren't as many crowds!