The holidays are fast approaching, and with them, the desire to cozy up indoors and overindulge on some of the best comfort foods the season has to offer. The air chills, snowstorms blanket the roads in white, and familiar tunes fill our heads as much as hearty family dinners and decadent desserts fill our bellies.
There's nothing wrong with enjoying the indoor treats of the season, but it becomes a little too easy to forget about the joys of being outdoors and what some movement can do for our bodies and minds. These winter hikes prove all you need to overcome winter lethargy is the right gear and a good attitude.
8 Timber Creek Overlook Trail - Zion National Park, Utah
Nearly 70% of Zion's annual visitors hit the park between April and September, leading to often overcrowded trails and a trip that loses a bit of its natural splendor. Although Zion does experience a winter chill, high temperatures stay in the mid-50s, and nighttime lows below freezing mean the chance to see snow-covered rocks glistening in the sunrise.
The Timber Creek Overlook Trail is on what's known as "the quiet side of Zion," so hikers can expect a remote, enjoyable trek through the park and stunning, solo views of the Kolob Canyon illuminated by the sun. The 1.1-mile out and back trail is ideal for all skill levels, with limited elevation gain on often slippery, muddy trails. This is a safe winter hike with a great visual payoff.
7 Yosemite Valley Loop Trail - Yosemite National Park, California
The best thing about the Yosemite Valley Loop trail is that hikers can decide how long of an adventure they're ready to take on. The 20-mile loop features a waterfall and spectacular views of El Capitan, the park's famous granite monolith. The park sees the most visitors during the summer months, taking away from the solitude visitors are often looking for during national park trips. During the winter, sights of the snowcapped high country and serene sequoia meadows will have guests feeling like they're walking through the pages of their very own fantasy novel.
6 Hightop Peak Trail - Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Shenandoah National Park becomes a winter wonderland, and the steep, snowy climb to the Hightop Summit will keep hikers' hearts pumping from the bottom to the top. The three-mile out and back trail demands an uphill battle with the elements, which means a healthy dose of sweat to keep you warm beneath those winter layers. On clear days, views of frost clinging to the naked branches of the forest below will amplify the appreciation of winter's unique beauty. The trail is rewarding even on cloudier days as hikers trek through a forest shrouded in surreal fog and enjoy the silence from the 3,296-foot summit.
5 Rim Trail - Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Rim Trail is one of the Grand Canyon's most popular, as it offers a variety of views that visitors of any skill level can enjoy. During the winter months, slippery conditions make already challenging trails more dangerous, and the last thing anyone wants is to go careening over the canyon on winter break. The 12.7-mile point-to-point hike offers stunning views of the colorful canyons decorated in clean, white snow, a sight that's sure to warm visitors from the inside out.
4 Kalalau Trail - Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park, Hawaii
For those looking to ditch the cold weather vibes altogether, Hawaii is a great place to soak up the sunshine in the dead of winter. The Kalalau Trail is an intense hike ideal for skilled adventurers on the hunt for a tropical escape. The 22-mile out and back trail takes hikers through dense rainforest, where they will encounter "Hawaiian ice," or slick spreads of thick mud.
The beachside campsite allows guests to rest for the night surrounded by lush, green mountains and a stunning ocean view. The Kalalau Trail is a bucket-list journey for many avid hikers, and gifting yourself the permit required for such a unique experience will surely make it a memorable winter.
3 Mount Ellinor Trail - Olympic National Park, Washington
There will be no time to consider the temperature for those looking to reach the summit of Mount Ellinor. Cold-weather adventures will break a sweat as they conquer nearly 3,400 feet of elevation gain to reach the top, the most intense portion during the last half mile. It's imperative that hikers come fully equipped to manage the elements, using poles and wearing proper clothing. The early portion of the seven-mile out and back trail will take wanderers through a forest in the clouds, and from the top hikers will get epic views of Mount Rainier and Lake Cushman.
2 Apgar Lookout Trail - Glacier National Park, Montana
It's not uncommon for visitors to Glacier National Park to experience snow even in July, so cold weather lovers are in for a treat when they take the road less traveled and head to the quiet summit of Apgar Mountain during the winter. Hikers will travel through winding, frosty forests, gradually inclining to the peak, where they'll be greeted by spectacular, panoramic views of an empty national park. Another plus of visiting in the winter is that the bears that tend to close popular trails during peak season hibernate (but hikers should always be on the lookout regardless.)
1 Blue-Orange Trail - Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida
A great way to stay warm in the lower 48 is to take a trip to the Sunshine State. Summertime in Florida often comes with unbearable humidity and swarms of bugs out for blood. During wintertime, humidity decreases exponentially. Flooded swamp areas dry up, exposing a lush landscape that can't be found anywhere else in the county.
The state with eternal summer also has the flattest terrain, so trekking down the Blue-Orange Trail in the Big Cypress National Preserve is ideal for the entire family. The 14.9-mile loop passes through wildlife-laden swamps, fertile woodlands, hip-high grasses, and fields of colorful wildflowers.