What have you been doing this winter?
If your answer has anything to do with shoveling snow, digging out a stuck car, recharging a dead battery, or paying a fuel bill that is higher than your food bill, you’ve probably had it up to the snow line with storms rolling in and newscasters screaming about another winter snow frenzy on the radar. Not to mention that feeling that if just one more snowplow walls in your car (again!) you will go stark, raving mad.
But there is something you can do: Go backpacking.
No, I’m not talking about the kind of backpacking where you sleep outside in temperatures that belong in the frozen food section of your grocery store. That can be fun (at least, I think so), but not everyone wants to mess around with winter tents, glove systems, crampons, snowshoes, and collapsible shovels and hauling 80 pounds of gear through the snow. And sometimes even a dyed-in-the-woolen-long-johns winter lover needs to just get away from the white stuff.
The following seven destinations offer you trails where you can spend a few days hiking and camping without having to worry about wind chills, frozen water bottles, and whether your minus-30-degree bag is really a minus-30-degree bag. We can’t promise you summer—for that, you’ve got to go farther south (like Australia). But we can promise you a pretty good approximation of three-season conditions.
Think, for instance, of the kind of weather you get in the Southern Appalachians in early April or Wyoming’s Wind River Range in September: It’s not always predictable, and yes, sometimes it even snows, but the snow and cold don’t tend to stick around for long. Often, you’ll find yourself hiking in shorts and a T-shirt.
In fact, in some of our destinations, you could make a strong case for winter being prime hiking season. You leave the crowds behind—even on trails that are jammed with foot traffic for most of the year. There are no bugs, no snakes, and no sudden steamy heat waves.
Besides, just think of the options: You could be back home, shoveling the walk.
Article Contributor:Karen Berger