Snow covered hiking trail in the Smoky Mountains

Exactly What You Need to Know Before Taking a Winter Hike in the Smoky Mountains

The winter months in the Smoky Mountains are some of the most beautiful, but can also be some of the most dangerous if you’re not careful when you’re out exploring the hiking trails in the national park. We want you to be completely safe while you’re spending time in the Smokies, so we have put together a few tips that will help you have the best winter hike in the Smoky Mountains this season. Take a look:

Preparing for Your Winter Hike in the Smoky Mountains

  • Map Out Your Plan

You don’t want to head into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park without a plan. First thing you need to do is grab a national park map (you can pick one up for free at any national park visitor center). After you have your map, choose a trail that you know you and your group can handle without any problems. Keep in mind that it is wintertime, so you may want to choose a shorter trail, so you aren’t spending as much time in the cold or freezing temperatures.

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  • Know Who’s Hiking

Of course, you need to know exactly who is going to be hiking with you. If you’re hiking with children, you’ll need to take a trail that is more kid friendly than if you were to hike with adults.

  • Tell Someone Where You’re GoingSnow covering trees in the Smokies

Before you head into the mountains, you should always let someone know where you are going to be for the day. Make sure you give details of which hike you’ll be taking and when you are expected to return. This way, someone knows exactly where to send officials to find you, in case you don’t return on time.

For more hiking safety tips, check out these safety tips every hiker should follow.

Things to Pack for Your Winter Hike in the Smoky Mountains

  • Water, Snacks

Don’t forget to pack plenty of water and snacks for your trip into the Smoky Mountains. You’ll want to make sure you have more than enough to get you through the day. Pack energizing snacks, like protein bars and fruit.

  • Map of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

When you started preparing for your hike, you had to map out your hiking trail, so make sure to take that map with you! It’s never a good idea to head into the mountains without a map to keep track of your location.

  • First Aid Kit

Most likely, you won’t need anything from a first aid kit, but it’s definitely worth packing–just in case! Even the most minor issue, like a blister from wearing tennis shoes, will be solved quickly and easily when you have that first aid kit with you.

  • Deer in the snow in the mountainsFlashlight

In case of an emergency, or if you end up hiking at some point when the sun is not shining, you’ll want a flashlight to watch your step and see your surroundings. This way, you can quickly make your way back to the trailhead. We recommend hiking in the early morning hours in the winter months because the daylight hours are much shorter, so you won’t have as much time to hike (since you don’t want to be in the mountains in the dark).

  • ‘Just In Case’ Items

You should make sure you have a backpack with you when you go hiking, so it’s best to pack a few extra items ‘just in case’ you need them. A few of these items would be things like:

  1. Waterproof matches
  2. Extra socks
  3. Sunscreen
  4. Chapstick
  5. Sunglasses
  6. Pocket knife

For more great tips about hiking in the area, take a look at our Smoky Mountain information blog.