12 Life-Changing Benefits of Winter Hiking

Sean enjoying the benefits of winter hiking

This person is benefitting on a winter hike

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Are you willing to give up outdoor life for months on end? The hell you are. The benefits of winter hiking far outweigh the risks of staying inside for months on end.

This winter, kick cabin fever in the face, drive depression into the dark, and work wonders on your well-being.

Get ready to reinvent your winter experience with these twelve life-changing benefits of winter hiking.

Benefits of Winter Hiking

See Fewer People

Far fewer people hike in winter. That means far less crowds, way more parking, and tons more solitude. (And the people you do meet? They’re literally cooler people.)

Burn More Calories

Winter hiking is a great way to maintain the strength and fitness you built up during the warm months, and to keep your winter weight gain under control. Skip the gym for a day. Get into nature — which has a whole slew of its own benefits, like…

Improve Your Winter Mental Health

If you suffer from S.A.D., or just feel generally crummy while our days are so short, you’ll get such a boost from hours of direct sunlight. Movement and sunshine do wonders for the body, the soul, and the mind.

Enjoy Incredible Scenery

The trail is so different when the ice and snow hits. On a winter hike, you’ll see scenes like this…

cabin and picnic tables in deep snow, mountains in distance
Hunter Mountain cabin and picnic tables

and this…

frozen trees on the summit of Wittenberg / winter hiking essentials
Wittenberg in Winter

And you’ll also…

See Winter-Only Views

Some views only open up in winter when the leaves are off the trees. One of the greatest benefits of winter hiking is that the number of peekaboo views and fresh angles on beloved scenes goes through the roof.

Learn the Thousand Forms of Ice

Frozen water has so many forms, you don’t even know. Icicles are just the beginning.

carpet of ice-balls
Ice-balls like these form in flowing, frigid water

Give Your Knees a Break

When the trail is covered in ice and snow, all those lump rocks are covered too — which means much less foot-pounding and ankle twisting. (Just make sure you have excellent traction.)

Give Your Ears a Treat

You don’t know the meaning of quiet until you’ve heard the quiet of a mountain after snowfall. It’s as close to absolute silence as you can get outside of a lab.

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Revel in Zero Bug Nature

Zero bugs. Major selling point. No black flies. No mosquitoes. No ticks. That’s huge. You can’t do any better than zero bugs!

Spot Animal Tracks

From squirrels to weasels to bobcats to deer to coyotes to bears, it’s so much easier to spot animal tracks in the winter. You’ll be blown away when you see your first coyote, bobcat or bear print.

bear prints in snow
Fresh bear prints

Alter Your Perception of Winter

Winter is now my favorite season. I used to hate winter but it’s true: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. Having the right gear means you can actually LOVE winter.

Rise to The Challenge

There’s no question that winter hiking is more challenging — and if you think that’s a benefit, you’re right!

Read More: Tips for Winter Hiking

Grab this free downloadable and printable Essential Winter Gear Checklist.

Ready to get out there this winter? If you’re keen to rise to the challenge, read 27 Unbeatable Tips for Cold Winter Hikes and enjoy an amazing winter hike.

Read through the WINTER and WINTER GEAR pages on this website, and stay safe out there!

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Hello, I’m Sean

I write independent hiking content to help hikers like you find amazing hikes in the Catskills, Adirondacks, Gunks, Hudson Highlands, Taconics and beyond.

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