Cooler weather isn’t a reason to put a pause on outdoor adventure. In fact, there’s so much to see along the trails after leaves have dropped. From cool birds to furry wildlife, some of the best times to hit the trails are in the fall and winter.
While colder temps and challenges with COVID-19 might deter some families from heading outdoors, having adventures in nature can be an enjoyable and safe option for family fun with extra precautions. Additionally, staying active and surrounding yourself with nature is good for your mind and body, both essential for everyone during this time that has many of us cooped up indoors.
Before you take to the trails, here are some tips to keep your family safe during winter.
- When participating in a cold-weather outdoor activity, dress in layers to control your body temperature. Sweating too much in the sun can make you cold in the shade. It’s best if your base layer is made from a wicking material that pulls sweat away from your skin. Additionally, be sure you have a layer of insulation that provides heat and a weather-appropriate jacket.
- Bring water and snacks to keep your body moving. Take frequent breaks with your little ones to make sure they have a drink and snack.
- Sledding in MetroParks is permitted in Englewood, Germantown and Taylorsville MetroParks. Be sure to follow CDC guidelines when sledding, and keep a safe social distance from other sledders. Additionally, never turn your back on a sledding hill to avoid downhill sledders from running into you.
- Many injuries on the trails in the winter come from falling. Be sure everyone in your family has footwear appropriate for the weather — sturdy shoes to hike and snow boots after a fresh snow.
Interested in a cool-weather hike? Here’s a list of MetroParks’ top trails for grownups with young kids.
Hills & Dales MetroPark: The Adirondack Trail loop is less than a mile and starts at Dogwood Pond. To make your walk longer, start at the Paw Paw shelter and cross the wetlands boardwalk.
Possum Creek MetroPark: Take the 1-mile blue trail around Argonne Lake for beautiful views of tree lines and the possibility to spot wildlife.
Englewood MetroPark: The 0.5-mile blue trail takes you along the boardwalk. Next, head to the nature play area for bonus fun!
Carriage Hill MetroPark: The 0.5-mile red trail loops around Cedar Lake. The orange trail is 1.3 miles and has options for shorter routes.
Germantown MetroPark: MetroParks has introduced two new, easy-to-hike trails as part of a five-year conservation project. The new 2-mile purple trail loop and the 0.7-mile brown trail loop wind through woodlands, prairie and wetlands, showcasing diverse habitats. These trails are easy to traverse and meant for families, schools and community groups to explore. The new trails can be accessed from the sled hill/Twin Valley Trail parking lot, 6202 Boomershine Rd., with an additional wetland entrance a little further south down the street.
Need help navigating the trails and finding interesting things in your favorite MetroParks? Download the free MetroParks mobile app, powered by OuterSpatial, at metroparks.org/mobile.
Learn more about MetroParks’ 18 clean, safe parks by visiting metroparks.org