Look, I don’t want to be rude but seriously?
Okay, so, in 2020 we had a particularly early end to the leaf peeping season. By the first weekend of October, the Adirondacks were called — prematurely IMO — with the Catskills a week or two behind.
But when does hiking season end? Hiking doesn’t end. Hiking never ends. We never stop.
Columbus Day? No.
New Year’s Day? Definitely not — I did the best hike in the Catskills on January 1st.
Fall, Shoulder, Winter
Fall brings some of the best hiking weather.
With the leaves off the trees, many hidden views open up. We get cooler temperatures. Moodier cloudscapes. Later sunrises.
Plus, it’s mushroom season.
Before the really cold weather comes, we have a shoulder season — late October, November, into December — until the bitter snow arrives.
But even then, somehow winter brings even better hiking weather…
Winter hiking has converted me from a winter-dreader to a winter-lover
Amazing bluebird days. Frozen lakes, white peaks and white hollows. And the air — crisp and clean and clear. Ravens cawing in the cloudless sky. It’s unbelievable.
In the mountains, there’s just so much beauty, so much real life winter wonderland to wander through.
Winter is now my favorite season to hike.
Bonus Benefits: we all suffer in the winter from not getting out enough, not exercising enough, not seeing friends enough. During the year’s darkest, hardest days, a winter hike with friends is a brilliant way to boost your mood, your energy, and your life.
There’s no such thing as bad weather—only bad clothes
That’s what the Scandinavians say. They like their kids to be outside as much as possible, and being outside does not stop for snow.
In America, we’ve caught up. We know about base layers, liner socks, smart wool, gaiters, mid-layers, soft-shells and hard-shells. We’ve got great buffs, hats, gloves and mittens. Hand warmers and balaclavas. All set.
Modern winter hikers have most of this gear, if not all of it, in their winter arsenals.
Check out this comprehensive Winter Hiking Kit List and learn how to stay warm and safe. Fall is also a great time to pick up some solid deals.
Grab the Winter Day-Hike Checklist — a handy PDF download with everything you need listed in one place.
With research and planning, you can extend your hiking right through the fourth — and greatest — hiking season.
When does hiking season end? Hiking never ends…
- Read How Windy is Too Windy to Hike?
- Read How Cold is Too Cold to Hike?
- Read How Long Will My Hike Take?
- Recommended Winter Day Hiking Gear List
- Hiking: Winter Conditions Gear Checklist
- Cold-Weather Hiking Tips
- 5 Reasons You Should Try Winter Hiking