How to ‘hike smart’ in New York’s winter weather



NEW YORK (WWTI) — New York is known for it’s countless outdoor recreational opportunities in the winter months, but safety always must be considered.

The New York State Department of Conservation has provided tips for outdoor winter adventurers to remain safe and avoid dangerous situations. According to the DEC, these tips all apply to activities such as hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and ice fishing.

The DEC listed ten hiking essentials to carry in a day pack on all hikes. This includes:

  1. Navigation materials: Map, compass, GPS system
  2. Insulation and rain gear
  3. Light source: headlamp. flashlight, lanterns
  4. First aid supplies
  5. Emergency kit: Whistle, signal mirror, duct tape, pocket knife, bright colored cloth
  6. Fire materials: Matches, lighter, fire starter
  7. Nutrition
  8. Water: Pack two liters per person
  9. Sun and insect protection
  10. Emergency shelter

Here are some additional recommendations on how to “Hike Smart” in New York in winter weather:

Be Prepared: What to wear

  • Sturdy, waterproof, comfortable boots
  • Avoid cotton
  • Dress in layers
  • Choose light-colored clothing to spot ticks easily
  • Bring a watch or other time-keeping device
  • Trekking poles to reduce leg fatigue and joint pain

Use Maps, Guides, or the DEC website to plan a trip

  • Plan where you’re going
  • Plan when you expect to return
  • Check trail conditions before hiking
  • Leave plans with family or friends, update them if plans change

Be realistic about your fitness and skill level

  • Don’t overestimate your abilities
  • Don’t underestimate mother nature
  • Choose trails within you or your groups ability
  • In the winter, breaking through fresh snow can be more tiring than regular hiking

Check the forecast and current conditions

  • Watch for darkening skies, increased winds, lightning flashes or rumbles of thunder
  • Avoid summits and other open areas during thunderstorms
  • Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce
    • Stay warm and dry
    • Wear waterproof jackets and layers
    • Dress properly

Hike in a group and stay together

  • Pace your hike to the slowest person
  • Stay in sight of the person behind you and the person in front of you
  • Stay in hearing distance of everyone in your group

For more winter hiking tips, visit the Department of Environmental Conservation’s website.

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