Hiking in the Smoky Mountains can be done during any time of the year, including the winter months. While you may think that most trails would typically be closed during the cold season, it is actually a prime time to see the mountains, streams, waterfalls and animals in their natural habitat. Anyone can hike through the Smoky Mountains during the warm weather, but it takes skill and determination to see these amazing sights while they are frozen. With select trails being open for hiking in the winter, it is necessary to take precautions and pack special items and equipment in the event of an emergency.
Winter Hiking Trails
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee offers unique views and looks during each season. A visit in the winter will leave hikers breathless at the picturesque backdrops that the snow creates. Alum Cave is one of the most popular trails that can be hiked during winter. Here, water is commonly seen dripping off the cliff from the bluff above. When the colder weather starts to come, these droplets form into frozen icicles, providing an amazing view. However, it may be necessary to use precaution and dodge falling icicles that could come down the mountain at any minute. Be sure to stay on the path to avoid major dangers. Other popular hiking trails within the Smoky Mountains include Andrews Bald, Porters Creek and Charlies Bunion. Porters Creek features a small, little known waterfall that is easily accessible for viewing and frozen in the winter months.
Hiking in the Winter
Hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park see quite a bit of foot traffic during the winter, making them easy to navigate with clear pathways in the snow. Visitors should be warned that hiking in the winter can be much different than doing so during the warmer times of the year. Slippery conditions are common and while many know that trekking through snow is a given, they are not aware of the fact that there may be ice on the trails. Snow typically gets packed into ice in the higher elevations on the mountain, creating difficult terrain to climb when you may lose your footing due to ice. Carrying a hiking stick with you can help to give you better balance.
It is important to plan ahead before completing a winter hike in the mountains. A hiking guide book should always be brought with you for easier navigation of open and closed trails. Don’t forget to put instep crampons onto your hiking boots for ensure correct footing on icy trails. In the event of an emergency, be sure to bring necessities such as flares, a first aid kit, water and mobile phone with you. Having a warm drink is a great way to raise your body temperature in the cold climate; pack a thermos of hot tea, coffee or cocoa. And as always any time of the year that you are hiking in the Smoky Mountains or any location the best safety precaution is to always hike with a friend and check the weather conditions before you select your time to hike.