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There’s nothing quite like a winter hike through the snow, with that familiar crunch beneath your feet and the glistening white wherever you look. All hikes are not created equal, however, and some can be impassable or very dangerous during the winter. That said, here are some of the best (and safest) winter hikes in the U.S.
Fairyland Loop Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
The iconic rock formations of Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah are even more stunning during the winter. Fresh white snow perfectly contrasts the red stone for an almost magical hike. There’s a reason it’s called the Fairyland Loop! The trail itself is eight miles long and fairly hilly, so bring plenty of water and prepare for four to five hours out on the trail.
Boulder River Trail, Arlington, Washington
The Boulder River Trail is an amazing hike year round, but what hike isn’t better in the snow? This is a moderately difficult 8.8-mile trail that leads to an amazing double waterfall. The trail doesn’t have much of an incline, but it’s quite long, so make sure you’re up for the distance. The drive up to the trailhead can be rough, especially during the winter, so it’s ideal to have a four-wheel drive vehicle for this one.
Gorham Mountain Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine
The 3.5-mile loop at Gorham Mountain Trail is a great winter destination, giving an amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean. Maine gets very cold in the winter, and you might even need to rent some snowshoes for this trip, but it’s worth it for the breathtaking sight of the coast in the winter. This is a very rocky trail, and there are a few sections where you’ll need to climb stairs or ladders to get around the tricky parts.
Mazama Ridge Snowshoe, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Mount Rainier is one of the most popular destinations in Washington and in all of the northwest. The huge active volcano is a must-see for serious hikers, but if you don’t want to brave the hike to the peak yet, there’s still a great trail for you. The Mazama Ridge Snowshoe is a six-mile hike across the beautiful Mazama Ridge on Mount Rainier, and as the name suggests, you’ll need snowshoes and the warmest clothes you have.
Koko Crater Trail, Oahu, Hawaii
For most people, winter hiking means chilly weather and maybe even snow, but what if you’re looking for a way to get away from the cold? In that case, there’s no better place for you than Hawaii. Hawaii keeps a steady temperature of about 60 °F through the winter, so a winter hike will mean nice weather and no mosquitoes!
The Koko Crater Trail in Oahu, Hawaii is a 1.8-mile trail up to the top of the Koko Volcanic Crater. Don’t let its short length fool you, however: This trail is difficult, and you’ll climb up over 1,000 steps. The trail is actually an old train track leading to an abandoned WWII lookout post at the top of the crater. The difficulty pays off when you see the view—there’s a reason it was a lookout post!