BY KENDRA MURRAY
During the winter months, it becomes very easy to stay indoors. Sure, it looks sunny and warm outside, but as soon as the front door is opened, the chill hits your face and you retreat back into your home. The coat gets thrown back on the rack, you turn on the coffeepot, pile on some blankets, and crack open a book. Don’t get me wrong; that does sound like a pretty nice way to spend a cold winter day. However, there’s no need to be afraid of the outdoors in the winter. Layer up and start exploring!
Walking in the woods in the winter is very peaceful. Everything seems a lot quieter and still than it does in the summer. With foliage gone, you often notice things you might not in others seasons, like old foundations or remnants of a time gone by. DNRT has many great properties to explore, no matter what the season. Here are a few you might like to explore:
- Parsons Reserve
- Everybody loves to make an annual springtime trek to Parsons Reserve to see the daffodil field. Have you ever visited in the winter, though? The reserve isn’t just the daffodil field; there are a couple of miles of trails throughout this 32-acre property. Follow the green trail to visit the vernal pool and check out the rhododendrons on the blue trail.
- Wernick Farm
- This beautiful property in North Dartmouth has it all! Walk through wooded areas, open fields, and around ponds. Follow the red trail to make your way to a large open field with a 1920s house foundation. Take the green loop too view three spring fed ponds and maybe catch a glimpse of a wood duck. On your way back to the parking lot, view a natural puddingstone on the yellow trail.
- Destruction Brook Woods
- This property is a favorite for dog walkers! This 280-acre reserve is full of fantastic trails and can keep you busy for an entire afternoon. Check out the incredible rock formations along the blue trail or stroll through the pine glade on the unmarked trails inside of the red loop. Looking for a longer hike? Take the 4 mile green trail up to the Russell Homestead and visit the historic Gidley Cemetery. Feeling really ambitious? Strap on your running shoes and start training for the DNRT Trail Race!
Tips for hiking in the winter:
- Layer up!
- Try to dress in at least 3 layers on cold days: a base layer (a wicking fabric is a great choice), an insulating layer, and a shell. Dressing in layers helps to keep you warm, and you can always shed your shell if you do end up getting hot.
- Stay hydrated
- On cold days, it becomes easy to forget about drinking water, and downing six cups of coffee or hot chocolate instead. Your body still needs water, and it’s important to pack when hiking. A thermos full of something warm is great to have too, but only in addition to water.
- Wear a hat, scarf, and gloves
- This one is obvious. It’s cold out; keep your noggin and extremities warm.
- Wear warm socks (or double up!)
- This is especially true if there is snow on the ground! Personally, I always have cold feet. I bought my winter boots a size or two larger than I needed so that I can layer two pairs of socks. My favorites are alpaca fiber and wool.
- Plan ahead!
- If you plan on spending a good portion of the day hiking, make sure that you get on the trails early. It’s never fun to hike when it begins getting dark on you, and especially unenjoyable when with the sunset comes a pretty drastic temperature drop.
- Go with a Buddy
- It’s always smart to bring a friend with you when hiking, especially in cold weather.
Have fun and stay safe this winter! Don’t let the cold keep you indoors!