Venture: Tips for winter hiking

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Ohio lies silent and beautiful in winter.

Gone are the rustle of leaves, the buzz of insects and the symphonic flocks of birds. In the cold, the land feels still and relaxed. These next few months, I'll hear only the wind as I head into a world that's broad and open and exposed.

The outdoors is alive and well - so don't let a covering of snow keep you from exploring it. With some help, even the coziest homebody can come to love cold-weather hiking.

Here are some things I've learned along the way.

Map it out . Winter hiking's fun because everything looks different, but helpful blazes and footprints are often hidden after a good snow. Winter's the only time when I also bring a compass.

A cotton-pickin' mess . Though comfortable, cotton retains moisture and sucks away heat when wet. Instead, wear wool or synthetic materials that wick away moisture and don't lose insulating properties in dampness.

Dress in layers. Wearing layers allows you to adjust to different conditions, like a turn from sunshine to shade. This method also helps your body breathe and shed moisture. The ideal combo is a thin base layer, a fleece top layer like The North Face's Surgent hoodie and a breathable, waterproof shell.

Splurge on shoes . Cold, wet feet are your worst enemy in winter. Get waterproof shoes or boots with good traction and secure ankle support to reduce the chance of a twist on a slick root. Underneath, I recommend Darn Tough's full-cushion CoolMax boot socks.

Keep it cool. Resist blasting the car's heater en route to the trailhead. This will only leave you overheated and possibly sweaty once you set out. Leave off the climate control and simply wear most of your gear.

Eat, drink and be merry . Even though you might not sweat, you need to stay hydrated. Drinking enough water helps your body regulate temperature. You'll also need plenty of high-energy snacks.

C arry on, upside-down . Water freezes from the top down, so carrying your bottle upside-down will keep the liquid near the nozzle free to flow.

Tons of winter hikes await on the Ohio Adventure Map. Find trip guides, trail reviews and more at