BY NICK CERTO | TRAILS COMMITTEE | JANUARY 30, 2020
If you’re like the members of the Hinesburg Trails Committee, you love being out on the trails. But when the winter months come, it can sometimes seem like it’s not a good time to get outdoors. With miles of local, well-maintained trails in Hinesburg available to the public, it’s easy to get out and enjoy the environment. Here are some ideas and recommendations to keep you and your family active and on the trails all season long!
Plan your hike. The HTC tries hard to keep the mapholders at trailheads wellstocked, but maps of every trail in the Hinesburg Area Recreation Trails system are also available online at hinesburg.org/hart.html. It’s best to make plans by viewing and printing the maps of the trail system you want to hike. Look and you might discover a trail network in town that you never knew was there. Depending on the weather, you can decide to take a longer, more challenging hike, like the Russell Family Farm Trail, or if it’s a colder day, you can take a quick loop on the more well-known Geprags Park trails. With the short winter days, starting early in the day so you have plenty of daylight can help you stay on the safe side. Start small, be reasonable about the distance and difficulty of your hike based on your experience and skill level.
Let someone know where you’re going. In the colder months, it’s a safe, beneficial idea to let someone know you’re heading into the woods, especially if you’re heading out alone. Whether it’s a family member or a close friend, it’s important someone knows where you are in case the unforeseen happens. A quick text or phone call letting someone know what trail system you’re visiting could be vital in locating you. If available, bring a family member or friend with you. Having a companion on a hike is always a good time.
Wear the proper clothing. Check the weather forecast and be prepared. Layering clothes is a great way to stay warm in the colder months of the year. Wearing materials like wool or synthetics as a base layer is best, as they don’t retain water and sweat like cotton does. Moisture-wicking base layers are great for hiking, they pull sweat and moisture away from your skin, keeping you dry and warm. Wear a hat and gloves to avoid exposure. On very cold days, a balaclava (a full face, neck and head cover) is a great way to stay warm. It is best to wear brightly colored outer layers so you can be easily seen.
Wear the best footwear for the conditions. When it comes to footwear there is no shortage of options. Sneakers, hiking shoes, hiking boots and winter boots are options for all weather conditions. It can sometimes be tough to choose the appropriate footwear for the occasion. On a cold winter day, a taller hiking boot would be sufficient if the snow isn’t too deep. If the conditions have been wet and cold and there’s potential of ice, a pair of crampons or Yaktrax are great to stretch over your hiking boot and give you the extra grip necessary to stay safe on the icy trails. If it’s been snowing and the trails are covered, your hiking boots might not keep your feet dry and warm. If that’s the case, a pair of Muck Boots or tall insulated boots have proven to be valuable. It is equally important to wear a pair of merino wool or synthetic material socks to keep your feet dry and warm inside the footwear of your choice.
Stay hydrated and energized. Activities in any season exert energy, it’s important to eat a hearty meal before you hit the trails and start the day hydrated. Bring water to remain hydrated throughout the day. Packing a high protein snack can help prevent fatigue and come in handy if you end up out longer than intended. If you get cold easily, you can always bring a thermos with some tea or hot cocoa.
The winters can seem to be endless in Vermont. Enjoying the outdoor activities can improve your health, overall happiness and make the long Vermont winters go by a little more quickly. Plan ahead, communicate, be prepared and enjoy the Hinesburg Area Recreation Trails all year long!