December is upon us and has brought lower temperatures and the first snow of the year. Many people may think that visiting a park or hiking in the dead of winter sounds unpleasant, but there are many reasons why hiking in the winter is just as exciting as a spring or summer excursion!
One of the best parts of winter hiking are the water features! Winter usually brings seasonal rains and increased flow to the small waterfalls and creeks that meander through The Parklands. Head out to the Limestone Gorge Trail in Broad Run Park and the Wild Hyacinth Trail in Turkey Run Park if you would like to see some beautiful water features! Many of these small, unnamed creeks crisscross trails, so it is important to wear waterproof shoes on your hike to keep your feet dry and warm.
Another reason to take a chilly hike is to spot wildlife! While many mammals may have slowed down for the winter, the songbirds and birds of prey are out in full during the winter months. With fewer leaves to obstruct your view, keep your eyes open for a soaring Red-Shouldered Hawk, a vocal Kingfisher, or even the rare Bald Eagle! To spot some colorful and lively birds, walk on the Black Willow trail in Beckley Creek Park or Lowland Plains and Riparian Ramble trails in Broad Run Park!
With colder weather, you can also expect fewer people and a quieter outdoor experience. If you’d like to take a quiet hike and simply listen to the sounds of nature, winter is a great time to do this! You can even use the quiet and peaceful time to admire the intricate patterns in winter frosts!
With smaller crowds and so much to see, we hope to see you out in the park this winter! And don’t forget to dress warm!