5 Essential Things to Bring When Winter Hiking in the Smoky Mountains

Father and son hiking in the winter.
November 26, 2016

Winter hiking in the Smoky Mountains is one of the most exciting things that visitors to the area can do this time of year. Not only does it give you an up-close view of all the natural beauty that our beloved mountains have to offer, but it also allows you to sneak in a little exercise during your trip to help combat all of those holiday meals coming up.

However, no matter how fun and exciting a hiking trip may be, it is always important to put safety first. That is why we have put together a list of the top five things every hiker needs to bring when winter hiking in the Smoky Mountains.

1. Layers

First things first; if you are going to go winter hiking in the Smoky Mountains, then you have to dress in layers. There are two reasons behind this.

The first is because the temperature will drop dramatically the higher you climb in elevation in the mountains. The rule of thumb is that the temperature will drop three degrees for every thousand feet of elevation you climb.

That being said, as you hike more, your body temperature is likely to rise. Wearing layers makes it easy to shed a light jacket or scarf as you warm up on the trail. This is also good for if and when you get cold again, as you can just put the layers back on.

Making sure to keep your body temperature regulated on the trail is very important.
Our suggested outfit includes:

  • a base layer that is water resistant but insulates you
  • a fleece jacket
  • a shell jacket that will help block the wind
  • hat
  • gloves
  • scarf

(See Also: The 4 Best Winter Activities in Gatlinburg)

2. Thick Socks

A woman hiking in a snowy forest.

Just as it is important to keep your shoes dry in the summer, it is equally important to make sure that you wear thick enough socks to keep your feet warm on the trails.

We suggest wearing socks that are made of wool blends or synthetic fabrics that can easily wick moisture away but also trap heat in. You can pick these up at any outdoor store in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, including Columbia Sportswear, the North Face Outlet, or Nantahala Outdoor Center.

3. Hot Cocoa or Tea

Although drinking plenty of water is extremely important when hiking, packing a thermos full of hot chocolate or tea can also help you stay warm while you get accustomed to the cold temperatures.

4. Backpack

Just like in the warmer months, it is always smart for hikers to bring along a backpack when they are winter hiking in the Smoky Mountains. Perfect for stashing extra layers when you get hot and storing necessities for when you are on the trail, having a backpack or a satchel with you is incredibly handy.

Here is an example of what we recommend visitors pack in their backpack to go winter hiking in the Smoky Mountains:

  • Water
  • High-protein snacks
  • Hiking guide/map
  • Compass
  • Lighter
  • Extra socks
  • Small first aid kit

5. A Hiking Buddy

Happy couple hiking in the winter.

Not matter what time of year it is, it is not wise to hike in the Smoky Mountains alone. That is why we at Gatlinburg Cabin Rentals encourage our guests to make sure that they always have a friend or family member with them when exploring the trails.

Not only does this give you someone to keep you company throughout the day, but it also gives you someone who can go get help or aid you in case of an emergency. You also want to make sure that someone who is not with you on the trail knows where and when you will be hiking, just to be safe.

If you would like a nice and relaxing cabin to come back to after winter hiking in the Smoky Mountains, be sure to check out the excellent properties offered by Gatlinburg Cabin Rentals. All of our cabins are just a short drive away from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and we are sure that you will find the perfect one for you and your family’s next trip to the area. To start planning your vacation, browse our selection of cabins in the Smoky Mountains!