December 21, 2020

The winter is a wonderful time of year to hike the trails at Great Smoky Mountains National Park because the scenery is breathtaking and there are generally fewer crowds on the trails! While the temperatures are generally moderate throughout the winter season in the Smokies, you can still experience freezing temperatures and snow. Therefore, it is important to know how to dress and what you should bring for your winter hiking adventure. Here are 4 clothing and gear tips for a winter hike in the Smokies:

1. Wear Layers

clothes for hiking

Since the temperatures can change at any moment without warning, one of the most important clothing and gear tips for a winter hike in the Smokies is to wear layers. You will want to have 3 layers of clothing, including a base layer that takes perspiration away from your skin, a mid layer that insulates you from the cold, and an outer layer that keeps out wind and moisture. The goal of layering is to add and remove layers throughout your hike so you can stay comfortable without overheating.

2. Cover All Your Skin

While you might not feel too cold walking from your car to the trailhead, the chilly weather can really catch up to you if your skin is exposed. In fact, any skin that is exposed to freezing temperatures and cold wind is prone to frostbite including your fingers, toes, ears, nose, and cheeks. You should wear lightweight fleece gloves under shell gloves, and bring an extra pair in case they get wet. For your feet, synthetic or wool socks are recommended, as well as waterproof boots if there is snow on the ground. When it comes to your nose and cheeks, a neck gaiter is perfect for a face mask. Finally, a winter hat or headband should be worn to protect your ears.

3. Bring Goggles or Sunglasses

couple hiking in the winter

Another clothing and gear tip for a winter hike in the Smokies is to bring goggles or sunglasses along with you. While most folks grab their sunglasses during the summer months, they are equally important during the winter to protect your eyes from the sun and the wind. If you are crossing any snow covered trails, the snow can also reflect the light right into your eyes and onto your skin, so wear sunscreen too. Some brands of goggles allow you to swap lenses so you can select the right lens tint for the weather, so be sure to ask about them at your favorite outdoor store.

4. Pack a Headlamp

One of the downsides of hiking during the winter months is you have less daylight hours to explore the trails, so always be aware of how much daylight you have left. This is especially important if you are setting off on one of the longer trails at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As a precaution, pack a headlamp in case you do find yourself out on a trail after the sun has set. Keep some fresh batteries in your backpack too just in case you need them for the headlamp.

Since you know how to gear up for a winter hike in the Smokies, you are ready to tackle some of the spectacular trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Before heading out, learn some more important tips about hiking in the Smoky Mountains during the winter.