6 Helpful Tips for Hiking in the Smokies in Colder Weather

Hiking in the Smokies along popular trails in colder weather can be one of the most beautiful times of the year. You can experience the beauty of the mountains and maybe even see a little bit of snow while you’re on the trails! Here’s a few tips that will help you plan your hiking adventure, so you can stay safe while you’re heading into the mountains:

  1. Don’t Hike Alone

The winter months tend to get very cold in the mountains, so it’s really not a good idea to head out on the trails by yourself. There is no cell phone signal in the mountains and there aren’t payphones or gas stations, either. When you have someone with you, the entire hiking adventure is safer.

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  1. Tell Someone Where You Are

Even when you are hiking with another person, or a group, no matter the season, it’s always a good idea to let someone know where you will be hiking for the day. Just simply give someone a small itinerary of where you’ll be, so if you don’t return home on time, it’s easier to send someone out to find you. Although it is not often that this happens, you are better to be safe when you’re hiking in the Smokies in colder weather.

  1. Pack Plenty of Water and Snacks

When you get out on the trails, you don’t want to be without water or food for the day. The streams, rivers and waterfalls throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are not safe for consumption, so be sure to pack plenty of bottled water. If you forget to pack water on your trip, stop by a visitor center and purchase some–it will be worth the purchase, we guarantee it. Visitor centers also have granola bars and some light snacks that will be great for on the trails!

  1. Pack a Map

Many people often forget one of the most important parts of taking a hike–a map! It’s so important to carry a map with you, so you aren’t just wandering through the mountains without direction. You can purchase some very nice maps at the visitor centers, or they also have free maps that will guide you through for the day. There’s no reason to go into the mountains without a map!

  1. Carry ‘Just In Case’ ItemsView of snowy mountaintops

No one likes to pack their backpack full for hiking, but there’s a few items you may need ‘just in case.’ So, go ahead and pack these before you start your hike:

  • Flashlight or headlamp

  • Fire aid kit

  • Waterproof matches

  • Sunscreen (Yes, even in the winter!)

  • Pocketknife

For more safety information, take a look at the hiking safety page on the National Park Service’s website: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/hikingsafety.htm

  1. Wear Layers of Clothes and Stay Warm

We have mentioned this many times, but it’s best to dress in layers. When you dress in layers, you don’t have to worry about being too hot or too cold–you will have exactly what you need with you. Leave a little extra room in your backpack, so you can put your jacket away if you don’t need to use it.

When you are hiking in the Smokies in the colder weather, do your best to stay dry. Stray away from the streams, rivers and waterfalls as you will get wet and then be a lot colder than you originally expected. This can lead to dangerously low body temperatures because the sun isn’t out to keep you dry.

You can learn more about hiking in the Smokies in colder weather when you take a look at all of our Smoky Mountain information articles on our website. We have everything you need to know, including events, travel tips and details about our Gatlinburg cabin rentals.