Just because the cold weather has descended doesn't mean you have to hang up your adventure hat! Winter is one of the greatest seasons to get outdoors — and there are so many different winter activities to try, regardless of your experience level.
If the cold has you turning indoors and you're itching for fresh air, we've got some winter activities that will have you ready to bundle up and head out!
We're sharing three of our favorite winter experiences that you should try, all of which are great whether you're a seasoned winter outdoorist or looking for a suitable cold-weather activity to try for the first time.
Live somewhere where the snow is falling — heavily — but the trails are calling your name? Try snowshoeing! Snowshoeing allows you to explore trails in the winter, especially when the snow is deep. Rather than post-holing your way through a hiking adventure in regular hiking boots, snowshoes provide more surface area for each step, making the process much more enjoyable!
The beauty of snowshoeing is that it's accessible to any skill level! Don't own the gear you need to try it out — and are not ready to invest in it as a beginner? That's no problem, either! Many ski outfitters offer snowshoe and trekking pole rentals — and REI provides this option, too. It allows you to try the activity, and the gear, without making a significant investment.
Another reason to love snowshoeing? Often, you will see few other hikers out on the trail when snow is deep, so you'll likely have a quiet and seemingly exclusive backcountry experience. If you're new to the sport, consider choosing trails close to home or not too far off the beaten track so you can try it out safely and with an accessible exit strategy.
Not into ski resorts and standing in lines at the lift? Skip the mad rush for first chair, and head into the backcountry instead! Nordic skiing is a great way to experience ski life without the crowds and with less need for the technical skills and experience that skiing on slopes requires.
Nordic skiing (also known as cross-country skiing) allows you to glide over flat terrain (and hills!); its main difference from standard skiing lies in how your boots and skis interact. With Nordic skiing, your boots are not fixed fully to the ski; only the toe of your boot stays fixed in place. This boot placement allows your heel to lift off the ski as you move, almost like taking a step, to help propel you forward and give you momentum to glide through the snow.
While this sport requires some coordination and balance, it is beginner friendly and accessible to all skill levels. If you're new to Nordic skiing, like snowshoeing, you can rent the gear you need. While it's not required, when heading out to try this winter activity for the first time, it might be worth opting for groomed trails. Groomed trails are well-maintained and may make getting out there as a beginner a bit more enjoyable as the trails are easier to navigate.
Ah, winter hiking. It's like regular hiking — but colder and with new views. When winter hits, no matter where you live, your view is sure to change — maybe it reveals a landscape between the tree trunks you can't usually see when the leaves are full, or it lends itself to snow-covered trails, hills, and mountain peaks.
Every season brings change, and you don't want to miss what winter offers! While the cold temperatures can add a challenge when you've got the right gear, you can get out in the elements confidently and comfortably. Another bonus of winter hiking? There tend to be fewer people than usual, so it can offer a renewed experience and a chance to enjoy quieter trails.
Like snowshoeing and Nordic skiing, winter hiking is beginner friendly — so long as you're equipped with the proper gear.
Some gear recommendations and general tips for winter hiking (and winter activities, in general!):
- Yaktrax or Microspikes for better traction in snow/ice
- Wool socks to keep moisture at bay (to avoid blisters and cold, soggy feet!)
- Wind and waterproof outer layers — weather can change quickly and drastically and it's best to be prepared for the elements!
- Sunscreen — winter sun can be powerful, and with the added reflection off of the snow, it's important to protect your skin. Sunburns can happen in winter, too!
- Sunglasses — again, that winter sun is intense! Visibility should be a top priority, so packing sunglasses in your day pack is always a good idea.
- Warm, breathable, moisture-wicking layers — even in the cold temperatures, hiking heats you up! Be sure to dress in layers to keep your core temperature stable as you explore.
- Map/GPS — when a trail is covered in snow, it can make navigation more challenging. Whether it's a trail you've visited countless times or one you're exploring for the first time, having a map or using GPS is helpful to ensure you stay on the trail.
- Share your plan — always let a friend know where you're headed and when you plan to be back!
- Stay fueled and hydrated — pack snacks and more water than you think you'll need. Even in the cold, these activities will have you sweating, and you need to replenish those fluids.
- Remember, daylight hours are short — gotta love daylight savings! With shorter sunlight windows in the winter, it's essential to manage your time accordingly. If you plan to be out before or after the sun is up, pack visibility essentials (like a headlamp) to stay safe
Ready to give one — or all — of these winter activities a try? Join us in Sisters, Oregon, this President's Day Weekend (February 17-20) for our Winter Escape Retreat Weekend!
This multi-sport weekend is created by women for women, where you can enjoy a carefully curated schedule of winter fun, adventure & self-care. We will have knowledgeable instructors and Search and Rescue volunteers joining us on this trip to guide and teach all attendees. From learning outdoor skills to being guided through a winter wonderland for Nordic ski, hiking, and snowshoeing outings, there is much to experience and enjoy on this 3-day adventure!
All skill and experience levels are welcome. We hope to see you there!