Ohio Winter Hiking 101
If you’re anything like me, the winter blues hit you hard and fast this time of the year. Saved for all of the holiday fun and excitement, motivation tends to set as early as the sun. A lack of daylight hours and warm weather can certainly take its toll!
The cold wintry weather in Ohio is inevitable…it comes year after year whether you like it or not. There’s nothing you can do to change that, but you certainly CAN change your gloomy attitude and get outside for a winter hike!
Should you choose to embark on a frigid adventure such as this, there are a few things to keep in mind. The most important thing is to map out your hike because there are few hours of sunlight and you do not want to get lost in the cold when night falls. Also, make sure you are hiking on pre-set paths. Ice and snow can get dangerous, and you do not want to hurt yourself trying to go off the beaten path.
Bring a few extra special items on a winter hike: hand and/or foot warmers, a thermos, and sunglasses in case the snow is blinding. It is especially important to bring (or find) a walking stick so you can check the depth of snow and keep balance.
You must also DRESS IN LAYERS! Wear thermal underwear, waterproof pants, a fleece sweater, a hat, scarf, waterproof gloves, multiple pairs of socks, a heavy waterproof winter coat, and hiking boots.
Official winter hiking events take place all over Ohio. A few of my handpicked favorites are as follows:
– Hocking Hills State Park: Located in Logan in Hocking County, this is the most visited state park in Ohio! On January 19, the park held its annual “Winter Hike” event in which over 4,300 people came to trek through the snow and see all of the iconic landmarks, including Old Man’s Cave, Conkle’s Hollow, and Cedar Falls. With the new realignment of State Route 664, the park is new and improved and deserves a visit this winter!!
– Prairie Oaks Metro Park: Located in West Jefferson in Madison County, this park is one of the Central Ohio Metroparks, which holds a winter hikes series every year. There are two big ponds, one of which is for dogs to frolic on top of when frozen over in winter. The scenery is fantastic here with the calm and serene Big Darby Creek and mild to challenging trails.
– Quail Hollow State Park: Located in Hartville in Stark County, this is a multi-functional park that has a variety of trails (14 miles) accessible to handicapped individuals and experienced hikers alike. One of my favorite aspects of the park is the herb gardens and the Carriage House Nature Preserve!
– For more winter hiking from Discovering Ohio, visit my previous posts on Clear Creek Metro Park within Hocking and Fairfield Counties; and Caesar Creek State Park at the crossroads of Greene, Warren, and Clinton Counties.