Winter weather backpacking can provide breathtaking views. The landscape completely morphs and features emerge that can’t be seen any other time of the year. Backpackers tend to get stir crazy during the long winter months (which is why so many of us ski and snowboard). There is something about the call of the trail, especially after being away for so long, that makes us want to brave colder conditions and set out through the pristine mountain winter. These 4 Winter Weather Backpacking trips are sure to offer an amazing experience and a peaceful hike.
PRO TIP: As always, know the limits of your gear as well as your own. Always test and make sure you have the right gear to keep warm and safe in the backcountry.
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1. Boulder River Trail in Washington
At 8.8 miles, this is a fantastic trail for just about anyone who wants to try winter backpacking. The trail is an easier trail, even in the winter, and goes through an old growth forest and river valley. Expect to see scenic overlooks and waterfalls. During the winter, the area will have snow, enhancing the beauty of the area you’re hiking in. Elevation for this trail is 1,646 feet.
2. Emerald Lake Trail in Colorado
Located in the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Emerald Lake Trail is a shorter trail, around 3.1 miles, that is perfect for any winter hikers. The trail is easy to follow because it’s heavily trafficked throughout the year, though few people are going to be hiking it during the winter months. The trail passes by three lakes and offers a view of Hallet Peak and Emerald Lake, which is frozen through the winter months. Elevation for the Emerald Lake Trail is around 708 feet.
3. Artist Point in Washington
Beginning in the Mount Baker ski area, the Artist Point trail runs through the Mount Baker backcountry area and runs parallel to the ski runs. The trail is well-traveled, so it’s easy to see where the trail goes and there will likely be many others who are following the trail as well. The trail can become steep but is passable for beginners. At Artist Point, it’s possible to see Mount Shuskan, Mount Baker, and the Cascades. Check forecasts before heading onto this trail as it does go through avalanche terrain. The trail is 4.4 miles altogether and has an elevation of 951 feet.
4. Sentinel Dome in California
Near Mariposa, California, the Sentinel Dome trail offers an amazing view of Yosemite. The trail itself is about 2.1 miles, though it can be combined with the Glacier Point Trail to make a longer trip. At the Sentinel Dome summit, you’ll be able to enjoy a beautiful 360-degree view. Wake up early to see an amazing sunrise at the summit. This trail is rated as moderate and has an elevation of 456 feet.
During the winter, many places are far less crowded because of the cold. If you’d like a quiet, peaceful view of amazing sites, check out the winter weather backpacking trips here. No matter which one you choose, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views, a fun hike, and a great time. Start preparing for a winter hike now by purchasing the right gear to keep warm and safe so you’ll be ready when it’s time to hit the trail.
Gear Guide: Winter Sleeping Bag
For winter backpacking, the right gear is crucial. Here are some of our top recommendations to upgrade your sleeping bag for winter backpacking fun!
A time-&-field tested classic, the “Never Summer” laughs in the face of cold and ice with a tested temperature rating of 0 Degrees F.
FEATURES of the Marmot Never Winter Sleeping Bag
- Certified 650 fill power down
- Anatomically designed footbox with wrap-around construction increases warmth
- Nautilus multi-baffle hood
- Full length locking YKK two way zipper with zip-guard slider
- Down defender to improve water-resistance in wet conditions
- EN tested
- Internal stash pocket
- Snagless insulated draft tube
- Ground-level side seams
- Hood draw cord