Climbing up steep mountain peaks is enough of a challenge in itself, but conquering these bad boys during the winter months takes mountaineering to a whole new level…literally. New and old climbers alike surely have similar lists of summits to get up to, but statistically, only a handful will achieve them; especially in the winter. If you’re one of those backpackers that doesn’t mind hiking in the snow and cold up to glorious peaks, then make sure you don’t miss these awesome hikes this winter:
Mt. Whitney, California
Mt. Whitney is the highest peak in the contiguous United States, and a challenging, yet amazing place to climb. Located in the Sierra Nevada, there isn’t quite as much snowfall here as other areas, however, it does get snow. Many people don’t make it up this 14,500 foot peak due to altitude sickness, which causes them to descend for safety reasons. It’s not even the peak itself that’s difficult, but the 22 mile hike on the Mt. Whitney Trail through a snowfield to get there.
Denali, which recently had its name changed back from Mt. Mckinley, is the highest peak in North America at 20,000 feet. Though it’s covered with snow most of the year, the winter is certainly more thick. Denali is an extremely difficult expedition, and not for inexperienced hikers by any means. It requires some serious equipment and time, and the ability to withstand the unpredictable and freezing temperatures. This who can handle it take the West Buttress trail up, but if you’re not quite ready, the area still has tons of other hiking trails to enjoy.
Mount Katahdin, Maine
Mount Katahdin is one of the most remarkable places in the US, known for its extremely narrow Knife Edge Trail. Located in Baxter State Park of Maine, many hikers enjoy coming here in the winter where the views at the top are nothing short of amazing. Make solid preparations before coming here, as the park has many restrictions during the winter months to keep hikers safe.
Cadillac Mountain, Maine
While you’re in Maine, make time to visit Cadillac Mountain. It’s a great place for hikers to experience during the winter months, even though snowfall and icy conditions in the winter make it rather difficult. The home of this mountain, Acadia State Park, has so much to offer this time of year, if you want to extend your trip or make your way up other peaks. Also, if you don’t have any New Year’s plans, consider welcoming in 2016 here, as it’s the first place in the US to catch the sunrise.
Mount Washington, New Hampshire
With some of the worst winter weather in the entire world, the elevation of this peak is hardly a hiker’s biggest concern. Conditions here all year round are pretty rough closer to the summit, but if you think you can manage, then it’s definitely worth the trek. When you get to the top, you’ll have a fantastic view of the Presidential Mountains and scenic evergreens below. Take the Lion Head Trail, which is the most popular during the winter. Just bring your coat!
Mt. Ellinor, Washington
Mt. Ellinor is one of the peaks of the Olympic Mountains, and its highest point is almost 6,000 feet. The lower trailhead is a little more than 6 miles up, and the elevation gain is rapid. Hiking in the winter of course presents a bit more obstacles, but the panoramic views of many of the Cascade peaks from the summit this time of year are incredible. Be prepared for ice and strong winds.
Deer Mountain, Colorado
Deer Mountain is one of the best places to hike in Rocky Mountain National Park during the winter season. Though it’s only three miles up, the elevation is at the summit is over 10,000 feet, and the snow makes gear like snowshoes absolutely necessary. You’ll have an easy time at the beginning of the trail, but typically the snow at the peak is at least a few feet deep. Don’t fret though; the views of the Continental Divide are breathtaking.
Mt. Rainier, Washington
Hiking up Mt. Rainier is difficult all year round, but the winter is of course more strenuous. With an elevation gain of 9,000 feet, this is not just your ordinary climb but truly an expedition. Those who don’t have experience or endurance should think twice before coming here. If you think this winter is your time, it will be one of the most memorable experiences you’ll ever have, with views of amazing glaciers and white peaks in every direction; once you reach the top of course.
Though many do prefer hiking in winter-like conditions, keep in mind that winter is also a great time to hike hotter places that normally experience extremely high temperatures throughout the rest of the year. Hit the deserts and national parks like Big Bend or Joshua Tree, where you can do some serious climbing without worrying about the unforgivable heat.