Hot Topics     Health Guide    

Hike Smart & Be Prepared



Safety tips for getting out in the winter months

Safety tips for hiking in the winter

Winter recreation is fun and exciting. It can also be challenging and dangerous. Whether you’re going for a hike, a bike, a paddle, or fishing, Hike Smart NY can help you prepare with a list of 10 essentials, guidance on what to wear, and tips for planning your trip with safety and sustainability in mind. Learn about best practices, preparedness, and the Hiker Responsibility Code. Discover trails less traveled and visit sites when trails may not be as busy.

Check the Weather: Check the National Weather Service for current conditions and forecasts for the locations where you plan to recreate. Check both daytime and nighttime temperatures. Expect conditions to be cooler and more exposed on mountain summits.

Manage your time wisely: Keep in mind that it gets dark early. Be mindful of sunrise and sunset times, and plan accordingly. Start long hikes early to maximize sunlight hours, and always bring a headlamp in case you are out longer than expected.

Essentials for Winter Hikes

  • Waterproof hiking boots with wool socks
  • Traction devices, as there may be snow and ice on mountain summits
  • Warm layers, including a hat and gloves, to prevent hypothermia; wind protectant layers for open overlooks and summits
  • Gloves and a hat
  • Headlamp with extra batteries- even if you plan to be down in the daylight
  • Plenty of food and water
  • A thermos of hot cocoa, coffee, tea, or soup to warm up or in case of emergencies
  • First aid kit
  • Emergency essentials you should always have in your pack:
                  o Space blanket
                  o Matches and fire starters
                  o Pocket knife
                  o Paracord or rope
                  o Iodine tablets or a water filtration system
                  o Extra batteries
Avoid Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a well-known risk during extremely cold weather, but it is also a danger during cool, wet weather. With variable weather in the forecast, keep in mind that hypothermia can occur at almost any temperature if you fail to keep yourself warm and dry. Hypothermia is the result of your body losing heat faster than it can produce it. 

To prevent hypothermia, dress in layers that will keep you warm and dry, and change into dry layers if you sweat through clothes or get wet. Drink plenty of water and eat high-calorie, high-protein foods to maintain your energy. Being tired, hungry, or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to hypothermia.

Know the warning signs of hypothermia:
  • Shivering
  • Exhaustion or feeling very tired
  • Confusion
  • Fumbling hands
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
Hypothermia is a serious medical condition. If someone in your party begins to show signs of hypothermia in the backcountry, act immediately. Warm the person by getting them to shelter, lighting a fire, or wrapping them in a space blanket or bivy sack (a weatherproof cover for your sleeping bag with a breathing hole). 

Remove any wet clothing and replace it with warm, dry clothing. Warm the center of their body – skin-to-skin contact can help. Warm drinks will also raise core temperature, but do not give the person alcohol. Seek proper medical attention as soon as possible.

View the DEC's pdf on Winter Hiking Essentials. This document also contains emergency numbers for DEC emergency dispatch.

As always, be sure to visit their Facebook page for updates and to view their Facebook Live offerings. From adventures at fish hatcheries and nighttime hiking, to Q&As about black bears, there is always something to see and learn.



Other articles by HVP News Reporters


  • Choose to move

    5 ways to help manage osteoarthritis

    Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and affects over 32.5 million U.S. adults. OA is a degenerative joint disease that causes pain and stiffness and can lead to limited function. read more »
  • Make these 10 doctor-recommended health resolutions in the new year

    Tips to help you get started

    The New Year is the perfect time to hit the reset button on your health and wellness. Not sure where to start? Doctors say you can make the biggest impact with small, incremental tweaks to your routine. read more »
  • Serve plant-based sweets this holiday season

    Try these dairy free salted caramel cupcakes

    Make this year’s festivities truly memorable by adding a touch of sweetness to holiday celebrations with this delightful combination of fluffy cupcakes, creamy frosting and a heavenly caramel drizzle. read more »
  • A full menu of festive holiday flavor

    From the main dish to dessert

    Cooking up a successful holiday gathering calls for everyone’s favorite recipes. From the centerpiece main dish to fresh salads and appetizers, roasted sides, and baked sweets, you can take seasonal get-togethers up a notch by mixing traditional classics with newfound favorites. read more »
  • Charity scam prevention tips

    How you can tell the difference

    The charitable spirit of New Yorkers is at an all-time high during the holiday season, so this week’s tips are meant to serve as a guide when choosing causes to donate to so donations get to the right place and not in the hands of scammers. read more »
  • A delicious way to support your immune system

    2 recipes your family is going to love

    Bolstering your immune system during winter, when coughs and colds seem to take control, is a must for the entire family. Supporting your wellness can start in a simple place – with the foods you eat and drink. read more »
  • The Bear Mountain Ice Rink is opening for the season

    Join them on November 4th for the first skate

    The Palisades Interstate Park Commission is pleased to announce the opening of the Bear Mountain Ice Rink for the 2023/24 season. Join us on November 4th for the first skate at the rink that was voted Best of the Hudson Valley three years running! read more »
  • Kingston Eats Veggies Campaign builds interest in local produce

    Kingston’s Creating Healthy Schools and Communities (CHSC) is piloting “Kingston Eats Veggies,” a vegetable of the month campaign. read more »
  • ASHA announces new developmental milestones for children ages birth to 5

    Checklists will help parents track their child's development

    The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) announces today the free, online availability of new checklists that detail communication (speech, language, and hearing) milestones for children ages birth to 5 years as well as feeding and swallowing milestones for children ages birth to 3 years. These milestones provide parents and caregivers with a roadmap of what to expect during their child's early years of life—and can alert them to the early signs of a potential developmental delay or disorder. read more »
  • How to make higher-quality choices at the grocery store

    Arm yourself with a plan and info

    Grocery shopping can be stressful when there are so many options, especially if you’re making a conscious effort to make high-quality food choices while you shop. Arming yourself with a plan and plenty of information can help you make smarter choices and feel good about the meals you prepare for your family. read more »