5 Tips for Hiking in the Smoky Mountains in the Winter

A group of friends with a map preparing to go hiking in the Smoky Mountains in the winter.

Stay with Gatlinburg Cabin Rentals this winter to enjoy the unique beauty of the season. One of the great things about winter in the Smokies is that the temperatures are relatively moderate, making it a great time to get out and enjoy a hike. However, it is important to be safe while exploring, so here are five tips for hiking in the Smoky Mountains in the winter:

1. Hike with a Partner

One of the most important tips for a winter expedition in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is to hike along with a partner. This way, if an unfortunate incident or injury does happen to occur while hiking, your friend or family member can get assistance and notify a park ranger. Although this is an important tip at any time of year, it is especially crucial during the winter season when the weather is colder and the trails may be more slippery due to snow or ice. When you have a partner, you can enjoy a safer hiking expedition and take comfort that help will be on the way in the event of an emergency. Finding someone to go hiking with you won’t be hard if you take a family Christmas vacation in the Smoky Mountains!

2. Let Others Know Your Plans

Even when you are hiking with a partner, it is absolutely essential to let someone outside of your hiking group know of your specific plans. Inform at least one individual of your exact itinerary, including what time you are starting your hike, the route that you plan to take, and the expected ending time of your hike. If you get lost and do not show up on time, your friend can inform the authorities of your route.

3. Bring Sufficient Water and SnacksHikers in the forest on a scenic snowy day.

Despite the colder winter temperatures, it is still essential to pack plenty of water to stay hydrated during your hike. Although there are many rivers and streams throughout the park, this water is not safe for drinking. In addition, you should have some snacks on hand to provide the energy necessary to complete your hike. High protein snacks such as granola bars are recommended, as these are compact and provide the nutrients your body will crave while hiking.

4. Dress in Layers

While hiking throughout the day, your body temperature will fluctuate depending upon the amount of energy that you are exerting. Stay comfortable during your hike by dressing in layers. When the sun is shining you may only need a windbreaker and a pair of sturdy hiking shoes. However, if the sky clouds up and the temperature drops, you may need to wear a scarf, wool hat, gloves, and earmuffs. Basically, you want to be sufficiently prepared for any type of weather conditions while you are hiking in the Smoky Mountains in the winter.

5. Carry a Backpack of Emergency Items

Since the winter weather conditions in the mountains can often change quickly, it is a great idea to carry along a backpack of emergency items. In addition to carrying such essentials as a good hiking map, extra bottles of water, and a first aid kit, there are a number of other recommended items. For example, since the winter days run shorter, it can be easy to lose track of time. Therefore, pack a flashlight in case you do find yourselves hiking in the dark. Other recommended items include waterproof matches, extra socks, hand-warming packets, a pocketknife, and a compass. You should also pack sunscreen, as sunburn can still occur in the winter months.

A woman with binoculars on a winter hike.After a fun day of hiking in the Smoky Mountains in the winter, you’ll love returning to your nice warm cabin. With toasty fireplaces, bubbly Jacuzzi tubs, and the comfiest beds around, our cabins have everything you need for an incredible winter vacation. To start planning your getaway, check out our complete selection of Smoky Mountain cabin rentals!