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Tips for Winter Hiking in the Smoky Mountains

Dec 29, 2012

Hiking in the Smoky Mountains in the wintertime provides a respite from hectic holiday schedules. There is no need for cabin fever. Winter hiking in the Smoky Mountains can be comfortable and enjoyable with the right preparation with these hiking tips.

Layering clothing makes sense any time of the year. Avoid cotton. If you prefer natural fibers choose garments made of wool-blends and silk-blends. Modern technology constantly produces new synthetic fabrics. Look for fabrics that will wick away moisture and retain body heat.

Hikers must always make certain friends and family members know where you are going and when you will return. Only go hiking if the trails are still visible and clearly marked. Hikers in the Smoky Mountains need to be extra cautious of swollen creeks and streams if there has been rainfall or if temperatures have risen after a recent snowfall.

Drinking plenty of water remains important despite the cooler weather. Be certain to pack water bottles and snacks. Check weather forecasts. Make sure snow is not expected and pay attention to when the sun will set. Days are shorter and you may need to start your hike earlier in the day.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is open year-round. Some sections of the park will close down during the winter season but many other trails are available for visitors to enjoy. Snowfall leads to more road closures. Trailheads located towards the edges of the park or near the main roads are more likely remain accessible. Chestnut Top Trail, a 4.3 mile trail located just inside the park, is a good choice for snowy days.

Laurel Falls Trail is one of the most popular trails for hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and perfect for winter hiking with children. Hiking to the 80-foot high falls and back is a 2.6 mile roundtrip on a paved trail. If the weather has been extremely cold, hikers will be rewarded with the sight of frozen waterfalls.

Alum Cave Bluffs Trail climbs Mount Le Conte. The 5.5 mile climb is appropriate for experienced winter hikers. Hikers will pass features such as Arch Rock and Alum Cave Bluff. Stop for stunning views at Inspiration Point. Be cautious of icy walkways and falling icicles.

Winter hiking in the Smoky Mountains is especially gratifying. Since the leaves have fallen from the trees, trails suddenly divulge exceptional views. Hikers will also be pleasantly surprised to notice various stone walls and parts of past buildings. The Smoky Mountains offer hikers new experiences throughout the year.

Thomas Greene

Thomas Greene is a writer and travel enthusiast and enjoys blogging about things to do in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Some of his interests include hiking, mountain-climbing, whitewater rafting, photography, and writing. He has a passion for life and is a regular contributor to Smoky Mountain Vacation Guide. He has traveled all over the world and currently resides in Knoxville.