5 Tips for Hiking the Smokies in Colder Weather

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Smoky Mountains covered in snow in the winterWe, at Visit My Smokies, know it’s time for those holiday trips to the Smoky Mountains. When you are visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we want you to be as prepared as possible. Here’s a few tips for hiking in the colder weather this holiday season:

1. Don’t Drink Water from Streams

The water in the streams of the national park always seem fairly clear and clean. Even if it looks sparkly and clean, don’t drink it! The water contains many contaminants and can be harmful to you and your family. It can be safe to boil the water to eliminate the contaminants, but it’s important you use a filtration system that can remove even the tiniest harmful particles. Some stores sell purification tablets, but they aren’t guaranteed to eliminate every harmful particle. We recommend packing plenty of bottled water for your hike.

2. Stay on Maintained Trails

Stay on trails that are officially maintained by national park staff. Straying away from the designated trails can cause you to get lost and end up spending a lot more time in the mountains than you planned. When you’re hiking, make sure to let the slowest person set the pace. Be sure to take plenty of breaks in the colder months, to catch your breath and rehydrate.

3. Wear Comfortable Hiking Shoes

When you are hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you will want to make sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothes. In the colder months, it’s important to wear plenty of layers of clothes, including jackets and socks. The weather at the lower elevations may not seem cold, but as you reach higher elevations, the weather begins to freeze. The Smoky Mountains have already had a few frosty, snowy, mornings in the upper elevations, so be sure to pack for warmth and comfort.

4. Pack Emergency Items

You may not think you need to pack emergency items, but it never hurts to have a backpack with a few emergency items. When you’re hiking the trails, you will want to make sure you have everything you need before you head into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Packing items like matches, extra water bottles and moleskin for blisters, is a great idea for your hiking trip. Since the weather is cooler, it doesn’t hurt to pack an extra jacket in your bag, either!

5. Tell Someone Where You’re Hiking

Always let someone know where you will be hiking on your trip. Cell phones typically don’t have enough signal to make a phone call from inside the national park, so it’s important you let someone know where you’re headed. Be sure to tell that person when you will arrive back to your location, so they know to contact authorities if you have been gone too long.

Looking for more travel tips? Visit My Smokies has travel tips, including regularly updated weather videos, that are extremely helpful in planning a trip to the Smokies.

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