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Warm Up With These 8 Winter Hikes

Destination & Tourism | Janeen Christoff | December 23, 2015

Warm Up With These 8 Winter Hikes

PHOTO: Fairyland Loop is an ideal winter hike. (Photo courtesy of Thinkstock)

It’s easy to lose yourself by the fireside with a good book all winter long, but for those who want to warm up by getting outdoors, there are some great winter hikes that offer stunning vistas, easy strolls and coastal escapes sure to get you over the winter blues.

Koko Head Crater Trail on Oahu

If the President can do it, you can too. President Barack Obama surprised hikers on the Koko Head Crater Trail – affectionately known as the “stairmaster from hell” by many – as he and his family did this grueling hike over their holiday vacation in Kailua on Oahu, Hawaii. While the stairs will have you huffing and puffing long before you get to the top, once you do, the views of the islands and Koko Crater are breathtaking.

Marble Falls in Sequoia National Park

This is a longer hike, suitable for the later winter months. Wildflowers blanket the foothills of the Sequoia as you follow a trail that weaves through a canyon up 2,400 feet to Marble Falls. The moderate hike is eight miles long, but hikers are rewarded by the breathtaking falls along the way. Watch out for poison oak and slippery creek crossings as you go.

Golden Canyon in Death Valley National Park

Golden Canyon’s current claim to fame is as a location in the filming of the original “Star Wars” trilogy, but it’s golden walls and stunning Red Cathedral have been wowing visitors for nearly 100 years. There are three easy hikes to do from the trailhead at Golden Canyon. You can hike just the canyon for a two-mile there and back walk, do the Gower Gulch loop for approximately four miles or, for those ready for a challenge, hike all the way up through the canyon to Zabriskie Point for views of the valley floor.

Gorham Mountain Trail in Acadia National Park

Ready to strap on your snowshoes for some coastal views? This hike answers that call by mixing the ocean with the mountains for the perfect winter hike. In the summertime, it is one of the most popular hikes in Acadia National Park. In the winter, it is still an easy to moderate climb for views of Mount Desert Island. Extend the hike with a walk on the sandy shores below afterward.

Iliahi Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

This is a short, easy hike with some exciting scenery near the national park. The 1.3-mile loop follows along steam vents that appear out of nowhere as you are walking along, with views of Mauna Loa, the Halemaumau Crater and the Kilauea Caldera.

Fairyland Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park

The iconic fairy-like hoodoos, located below the rim of Bryce Canyon, are magical when they are coated in snow. View their striking colors from the Fairyland Loop trail that is about an eight-mile walk that takes a southerly course along the Rim Trail. As you rise and fall along the way, with elevation gains of nearly 1,000 feet, you will be able to observe the snow-covered spires.

Velvet Rocks on the Appalachian Trail in Hanover, N.H.

For the most part, the Appalachian Trail is considered a summer activity, but Velvet Rocks can be a great hike in the winter, too. Follow the trail along the Vermont-New Hampshire border through fields covered in snow, hardwood forests and up a granite ridge where you can enjoy views of Hanover and Dartmouth College. The 5.2-mile trek that begins in downtown Hanover is a fun hike for those who are looking for a short snowshoe adventure.

Kincaid Beach Trail in Anchorage, Alaska

For a true winter trek, head to Anchorage, Alaska, where you will find Kincaid Beach. The mile-long trail to the beach takes visitors through an old-growth forest in Kincaid Park. The sandy beach leads down the Knowles Coastal Trail for those who want to continue strolling along the shoreline. After about 11 miles, you will reach downtown Anchorage.

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