Plan Your Next Adventure
The weather has gotten colder but that doesn’t mean you have to be stuck inside. We’re all at greater risk of cabin fever this year, so there’s no time like the present to break out your cold weather gear and a sturdy pair of shoes and hit the trail.
I know that I, for one, have certainly been hiking more this year and gone on more outdoor adventures in general. In light of social distancing concerns, it’s one of the safest ways right now to get exercise and have fun. There’s nothing quite like resting beside a waterfall in a sunny spot at Shenandoah National Park and listening to the forest sounds, especially when it comes to soothing the many worries we’ve all been carrying around. And the view from the top of Seneca Rocks brings a thrilling sense of place and of balance in a busy world. Even the new walking trails at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley on a blustery day provide just the right amount of invigoration to get your head back in the game after a long week.
When hiking in the cold, it’s important to follow a few simple tips to keep yourself safe and comfortable. Dress in layers so you can adjust to changing temperatures throughout the day and prioritize moisture wicking and weather-resistant fabrics like wool and synthetic fibers, so you stay warm and dry all day. Cover bare skin on especially cold days and wear a hat if you feel chilly. Keep batteries warm to prevent them failing and remember, darkness comes early this time of year so be sure to pack a headlamp or other light source just in case.
We’re especially fortunate in this region to have access to a wonderful range of parks, paths, and trails for all skill levels. From just down the street to America’s Back Yard, Virginia has it all. Go for a walk at Sherando Park or Jim Barnett Park which are a short walk or drive for many residents or take a trip down Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park for near endless trails, camping, and access to the middle stretch of the Appalachian Trail. You can even visit Rose Hill Park or stop by the Bowman Library branch and check out our new lake trail for a short and simple nature walk that’s close to home.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Appalachian Trail, you might want to sign up for our new virtual series Third Thursday: Exploring the Outdoors. The premier event on January 21st at 6:30 PM features talks by two thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail, Rose “Comics” Turner and Chris Johnson, who will be discussing their experiences on the trail, hiking with a dog, addressing medical emergencies on the trail, and artistic inspiration drawn from the journey.
Before you head out, take advantage of your local library resources so you can go prepared. We have books on cold weather hiking and camping, as well as subscriptions to Backpacker, Outdoor Life, and Blue Ridge Country magazines for trail and travel guides.
We’ve even got some supplies on hand to get you started! Check out one of our I Love Virginia State Parks nature or survival backpacks for your all-access pass to some of our area’s best parks. Each one comes equipped with nature field guides, trail tips, and some basic supplies for your adventure, not to mention a free Virginia State Park pass valid for the duration of your checkout. Always remember to hike responsibly. Tell someone where you’re going and Leave No Trace!