As the Asheville area settles into the season’s cooler temperatures, it may seem logical to put outdoor activities on ice. But on the hiking trails, there’s an exhilarating, wintry world awaiting you, and one you won’t want to miss out on. While much of the Blue Ridge Parkway closes during the winter, there are still many hiking opportunities to enjoy, from in-town trails to wide-open balds to waterfall walks. So don that cold-weather gear and enjoy our favorite things about winter hiking in Western North Carolina!
Cold keeps the crowds at bay – If you’re looking for an ideal way to enjoy some solitude, a winter hike can’t be beat. The crowds that populate Western N.C. hiking trails during the warmer months thin out in the cold, leaving behind a peaceful backdrop for soaking in the nature around you.
An otherworldly landscape – Many of the Asheville-area hiking trails, shrouded in lush foliage during the warmer months, are laid hauntingly bare in the winter, opening up a unique landscape that boasts its own otherworldly beauty. The contours of the land take center stage. There’s nothing quite like looking out on miles of ice-coated grasses and branches that are the hallmark of the Appalachians’ wintry vistas. And many of the region’s waterfalls freeze over, creating stunning scenery singular to this time of year.
Physical and emotional boost – While the dark and cold of the season can take a toll on our health – curtailing physical activity and sending many of us into the winter doldrums – hiking is a mood-boosting, blood-pumping way to enjoy the season. It gives our immune system a much-needed lift, and also helps to burn more calories (since your body works harder to keep you warm on wintry hikes).
Fewer bugs – If insects kill your buzz when you’re out hiking, winter will take care of that issue. The cold weather makes for fewer bugs on the trails, not to mention a reduction in the snake and bear sightings more common during warmer months.
See winter in a new light – Getting out and enjoying the terrain only a winter hike can afford will give you a new outlook on the season. Instead of thinking of winter as a grind, you can create uplifting memories on the hiking trail this season.
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