Don’t let the chilly weather at this time of year scare you away from the beautiful scenery of the Blue Ridge. Not only is winter a great time to get outside for a walk, these iconic mountains are famous for their beautiful blue hue and stretch from Virginia and the Carolinas all the way into Georgia, where they are quite literally right outside our door. If you fancy a winter day outdoors, they will not let you down, whether you are a seasoned hiker or a beginner.
According to the American Hiking Society, 10 things should be with you on each and every hike. Those 10 things are:
1. A map or a compass
Because phones can lose service out in the woods, the AHS recommends bringing along a map or a compass.
2. Water and a way to purify it.
AHS suggests bringing a purification method in addition to water. You can buy a purifying kit on Amazon for about $15.
3.Plenty of food.
4. First aid kit
5. Knife or similar tool
7. Some sort of shelter – such as a waterproof blanket or tent.
8. Rain gear
9. Whistle and fire materials
10. The right footwear
For clues about the right footwear, we turned to Steve DeMoss and the team at Big Peach Running for advice, and they agreed the shoes you wear on a hike are important.
“The right gear can provide comfort, inspire confidence and provide cold-weather protection while outdoors,” says DeMoss. “If you're uncomfortable in your gear, whether it's footwear, socks or apparel, it becomes an unpleasant distraction. And having lightweight gear that provides warmth and protection against the elements, whether in the form of base layers, outer layers, hats or gloves, can make the difference between enjoying a chilly day or simply wishing it ends as quickly as possible!”
DeMoss suggests trail shoes for the local winter hiker, which, he says, offer just as much stability and traction but are more nimble and lightweight. But whatever shoe you choose, the Big Peach team is happy to help.
“We are highly selective with the shoes we carry, and they are all great shoes,” he notes. “Our job is to help our guests find not just a good shoe — that's easy — but the right shoe for their activity and their individual needs. And we have much more than just shoes — we have apparel and other gear for all types of adventures.”
Unsure where to go for your hike? The Fannin County Chamber in Blue Ridge, Georgia has a few suggestions:
- Horseshoe Bend Park - Enjoy "scenic riverside benches" along the Toccoa River.
- Lake Blue Ridge Day Use Area - Paved loops around a lake, ideal for a winter walk.
- Aska Trail - Scenic for both bikers and hikers, with long and short loops.
- Benton Mackaye Trail - A great way to explore Springer Mountain, Georgia.
- Appalachian Trail - Start the world-famous 2,200-mile trail right here in Georgia.
- Mineral Springs Walking Trail - This peaceful walk on flat terrain includes signage about flora and amenities for relaxing and enjoying lunch.
“The right gear can provide comfort, inspire confidence and provide cold-weather protection while outdoors." --Steve DeMoss, Big Peach Running