4 Reasons Why You Should Try Winter Hiking
Spring and summer hikes boast the buds and blossoms of rhododendron, mountain laurel, and hundreds of other flora. Perhaps you’ll have an encounter with a turkey or deer. Maybe you’ll be so lucky, or unlucky, as to see a bear from a safe distance sauntering down the path ahead of you.
Autumn colors dominate the landscape of the southern Appalachians. The falling leaves on the forest floor rustle in a cacophony of noise with the business of woodland creatures preparing for the impending winter. Ah, yes. Spring, Summer and Fall are wonderful times to take a hike. However, winter has to be the most underrated of the seasons to hike. Here are 4 reasons why you should get out and take a hike this winter.
Beat the Crowds
Dahlonega has a lot of beautiful waterfalls. Consequently, the trails in Spring, Summer, and Fall are often packed with hikers wanting to get close up and personal with the waterfalls, or maybe even cool off and get their feet wet. In winter you won’t find a whole lot of people out on the trails. For instance during Spring, Summer, and Fall, Preacher’s Rock, one of the most highly visited destinations on the whole Appalachian Trail, is often completely packed with people trying to catch a glimpse at this spectacular lookout. In winter most of the crowds don’t want to embrace the mild discomfort of high-30s and low-40s temperatures. In winter you’ll often find solitude at the top of Preacher’s Rock, something that no other season affords.
Beat the Heat
Just in case you hadn’t heard, the weather in the South is hot. Not only hot, but also incredibly humid. Lugging yourself up a mountain with a liter of water, some snacks and supplies is a strenuous and sweaty feat most of the year down here in Georgia. Winter is a different animal, though. You’ll find that while initially chilly, after a few hundred yards in this topography you’ll be quite comfortable.
Beat the Bugs
In additionto oppressive heat and humidity, the South is also home to a host of horrible creatures that seem to delight in your misery. Don’t forget the deet to keep the mosquitoes away! Even if you are successful at keeping the mosquitoes at bay, there are still ticks, fire ants, hornets, bees, and fleas. These creatures are nearly impossible to escape. Winter is the only time when you won’t encounter them. Insects are ectothermic, coldblooded, and are either dormant or dead during winter months affording you a couple of bug-less months.
Deciduous trees are trees that lose their leaves in fall and regrow them again in Spring. Examples include oak, maple, beech, birch, sycamore, and sassafras. While Dahlonega and the surrounding areas do have a fair amount of evergreen trees, like white pines and hemlocks, the woods are largely dominated by deciduous trees. Consequently, some folks think the winter landscape rather drab because of this lack of foliage. However, what the winter woods lack in greenery, it makes up for in rich contrasts and textures. The biggest benefit is that the lack of foliage improves existing views and affords views which, with a bunch of leaves, wouldn’t be possible.
Sure. Spring, Summer, and Fall offer some unique hiking experiences, Winter certainly has a lot to bring to the table, too. If you have yet to embrace winter hiking, or even hiking in general, I challenge you to get out there and try it. The Lodge is in close proximity to a number of beautiful hikes of varying difficulties. We even offer a Guided Waterfall and Mountain Hikes Package. For those of you looking to go the self-guided route, be sure to check out our site Hike Dahlonega.