“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”
This year, to the delight of us all, the Northwest Corner, CT enjoyed an unseasonably warm autumn. The past week, however, brought us a chilly reminder that winter is well on the way. In New England, there is usually a good span of time between the first frost and the first significant snow. During this time, residents of and visitors to this Tri-State Region tend to get a little “itchy.” The cold has come, but….the snow has not. The town beaches are closed, but the local ski areas are not up and running, so what is one to do for outdoor activity? The answer, in one word is: HIKE!
Yes, Winter Hiking is a thing, and a popular one, at that. While hiking in the colder weather may seem daunting, following a few simple guidelines will help even the most novice hiker enjoy a day out on the trails. The first rule of cold-weather hiking is layers, and the first rule about layers is to avoid cotton. While you will be cold when setting out, your body will quickly heat up, especially on a more vertical hike. It is important to be able to have layers that are not only easy to remove, but easy to put back on as you stop along the trail to rest and/or take in the views. Cotton absorbs water (read: perspiration) and should never be worn, especially against the skin. The second rule is hydration. Yes, it is cold, but you will still get thirsty! For more advice about cold weather hiking visit the American Hiking Society or My Top 10 Winter Hiking Tips.
Anyone skeptical of the notion of Winter Hiking need look no further than Bartholomew’s Cobble in Ashley Falls, MA, right on the border of Canaan, CT. Here, hikers can experience the beauty of this unique offering of five miles of trails that include gorgeous views of open expanses, caves, beaver ponds and fresh water marshes. More than that, Bartholomew’s Cobble has numerous planned group experiences throughout the year, most of which are designed for all ages and are family-friendly. Examples are: Full Moon Hot Toddy Hike; a Holiday Week Scavenger Hunt, and the ever-popular Lantern Walk.
For more information about Winter Hiking, and hiking in general, visit Berkshirehiking.com. This comprehensive website provides information about all area hiking in Litchfield, Dutchess, and Berkshire Counties, including the best sites for “Open Field Viewing,” (e.g. Pawling Nature Reserve), “Great Views” (e.g. Mt. Everett), and “Water Views,” (e.g. Campbell Falls).