As the clocks spring ahead and the snow melts away from our city sidewalks, the urge to shake off the winter blues from our hiking boots and head out on a few trails builds quickly.
Spring hiking is a great way to get outside and see some of your favorite trails in a different setting. Barren tree branches provide easy viewing of rich deep blue sunny skies and you’re bound to notice other scenery that was hidden by overgrown bushes and leaves in the summer and fall. However, there are some precautions to keep in mind before you grab your summer hiking trail shoes/boots and head for the woods.
Most city sidewalks, streets and lawns have no snow left on them anymore because of the warm spring sunshine (and salt trucks) making short work of this left over winter white fluff. But in among the trees in the woods the snow finds a bit of protection with the shade from surrounding trees keeping the heat off the snow and the wind being blocked by the forest trees. This can create some treacherous hiking conditions, even for the experienced hiker.
Here are some things to keep in mind before you head out on your favorite trail this spring:
- Snow covered trails can be hard to follow unless they are well marked by more then just a flattened footpath.
- Deep snow may have filled in small dips in the trail, before you know it you could be in knee-deep (or deeper) snow.
- Melting snow may create overflowing rivers or brooks; this water may also be hidden under snow or ice.
- Stay off of lakes, rivers and brooks that are ice covered, no ice in the spring is safe to be on.
- Even where the snow has melted off the trail, the trail can still be very wet, muddy and hard to navigate.
- The sunshine may provide lots of warmth, but temperatures can drop quickly in the spring, close to freezing mark or below sometimes.
Spring hiking gear:
- Make sure your hiking boots are waterproof and have good grips for ice/water covered sections of the trail.
- Ware a warm jacket or at least pack one with a hat and some mitts/gloves to take with you in case the temperature drops suddenly.
- An emergency blanket and feet/hand warmers are also a good idea.
- A trekking pole or hiking stick can be used to tell the deepness of the snow/water in front of you.
- Sunglasses can help lessen the strain of the bright snow on your eyes.
- And of course as usual, the Ten Essentials is a good list of other items to take on any hiking trip.
Every hiking trail will be different and as the days go by towards warmer summer weather they will all improve. But a little bit of spring preparation can mean the difference between a long walk back with frozen wet feet/pants or a relaxing warm fun hiking trip. Get out there and enjoy the hiking trails this spring.