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Stories from the valley

Venturing into the Winter Outdoors

Contributed by Carl Gwyn

When the fall colors appear many people hang up the hiking boots and get ready for hitting the downhill ski areas or sitting by the fire with a good book. While these are wonderful winter activities, there are many adventures awaiting you along many of the same trails you hiked in the summer which take on a whole new persona once covered with a blanket of beautiful white snow.

Many people do not venture out and enjoy the winter wonderland because of lack of experience, lack of equipment, or just don’t like the cold. Hopefully you can be enticed to head out there this winter where in just a few minutes you can enjoy the serene beauty of a frozen lake, a trackless meadow of pure white, or trekking along through the silent pines.


First, you need to get ready. Much of the equipment for summer hiking comes in handy for winter travel. Focusing on going out for a day hike, the following is recommended:

Sturdy pants- jeans with polypropylene long underwear are good. Save the powder pants for the downhill area because they will be too warm.

Layered upper garments- a long sleeved t-shirt made of some sort of wicking material is best. For example, polypropylene, silk or something other than cotton with a light wool or synthetic shirt, then a sweater or sweatshirt, and a windbreaker on top.

Gators- to keep the snow out of your boots.

Large day pack- this will contain lunch, your favorite snacks and beverages, and still have enough room to put your outer layers of clothing as they come off when you get warm.


Now, pick a sunny day after a storm and on your feet you will have warm boots with snowshoes or cross-country skis. Snowshoes can be rented and used with little or no experience. Cross-country skis can also be rented, but a lesson or two would be recommended to familiarize you the techniques. Lessons are available at many cross-country ski centers like Kirkwood or Royal Gorge.


Once you are equipped, you will enjoy wonderful vistas within an hour of travel from the trailhead.