Escape the Chill: 5 Best Hiking Destinations in the US That Offer a Respite From the Winter Chill

Written by Wendy Tucker

Ice-capped mountains are just begging for adventurers to put on their snowshoes and get on their AT skis to conquer winter hikes and trails. Mad respect to those who find thrill in climbing the side of a mountain summit in the peak winter, however, not everyone is built the same.

Not surprisingly, a lot of individuals can’t stand the chill and would love to escape to somewhere mild to spend their winter holidays with their friends and family in sunny weather.

This article is all about hiking and trekking destinations that offer mild temperatures even in the dead of the winter. Some of these locations claim to offer better activities and experiences during the winter compared to sweltering summers.

You can head to and check out the best time to visit these locations, check weather forecasts, and weather radar to see what these places have to offer. From pleasant weather to trails abound, these places are hard to miss for those who want to escape Jack Frost.

In case you are someone just like that, pack light luggage, load up your car, and head to warmer regions mentioned in this list. From national parks to mountains, these 5 places have plenty to offer. So, without any further ado, let’s take a look.

Alpine, Texas


Alpine is a remote town that’s located on the southernmost tip of Texas and is a gateway to Big Bend National Park. The national park is one of the most popular hiking areas in Texas. One of the most popular hikes here is the South Rim Loop in Big Bend National Park that offers vistas of Boot Canyon and the Chihuahuan Desert, summiting atop Emory Peak.

While Big Bend National Park is the main attraction, you’ll also find the neighboring Big Bend Ranch State Park interesting if you like solitude. The Big Bend Ranch State Park is less crowded than the national park and offers the perfect to enjoy the scenery in peace. Other attractions include Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center, McDonald Observatory, Marfa Lights, and Prada Marfa.

George, Utah


St. George is known to be the warm-weather retreat of Utah and gives a respite from super-cold weather. Thanks to the Zion National Park, St. George is a hiking paradise for enthusiasts. Not just that, but St. George is also home to the Great Basin, Mojave Desert, and Colorado Plateau. Needless to say, with these many geographical hotspots in one place, St. George offers a diverse terrain that can be explored for days.

For hiking enthusiasts, the Zion National Park is home to some stunning trails. One of the most popular trails is The Watchman. The trail offers vistas of the Virgin River and Towers of the Virgin. Hikers can enjoy the gorgeous rock layers and overhanging cliffs in peace, thanks to the winter.

Another popular hiking destination here is the Snow Canyon State Park, which has gorgeous trails like Johnson Canyon Trail lined with red rocks and natural springs, Cinder Cone Trail with lava flow areas in the Colorado Plateau, and Petrified Dune Trail.

Flagstaff, Arizona


Flagstaff offers 266 days of sunshine on average, which makes it perfect for a winter getaway. While Arizona is a desert state, Flagstaff is in contrast and serves as a gateway to the San Francisco Peaks. The main attraction is the Ironwood National Monument, which is a four hours drive. Hikers would love the numerous mountain ranges like the summit to Ragged Top Mountain for a breathtaking view.

Other places of interest include Grand Canyon National Park, Bear Mountain Trail, Esperero Trail, and Arizona National Scenic Trail. While these are not in Flagstaff itself, the town serves as a perfect base camp to return to after a tiring day of hiking with good food, culture, and events.

Pensacola, Florida


Pensacola is a beachside town in Florida that enjoys 200 days of sunshine every year with pleasant weather during the winter. The town is home to Gulf Islands National Seashore, which houses the longest federally protected seashore in the US and makes for an incredible hike through pristine white beaches. Then there’s the Big Lagoon State Park, which is a coastal park with several trails offering everything from woods to marshes.

Nature-lovers can head to the Blackwater River State Forest and Bay Bluffs Park for a unique Florida trekking experience. Moreover, Pensacola offers a great evening out after a day of hiking, to relax. Explore downtown Pensacola for new craft breweries and the historic Seville Quarter for great dining. Pensacola is an ideal winter hiking destination for those who want to escape the snow and enjoy mild hiking.

Charlottesville, Virginia


Charlottesville is situated below the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers a great start to those who want to experience winter hiking and backpacking without getting into extremes.

The Shenandoah National Park is a perfect place to trek and experience a winter expedition without the bite of the northern cold. If you are a sunset or sunrise person, head to Bearfence Mountains to enjoy the 360-degree view from the top. Shenandoah is also home to the famous 100-mile Appalachian trail.

If you don’t want to experience the winter at all and stay within the sunny weather of Charlottesville, you’ll like the Rivanna Trail along the Rivanna River and its tributaries. Other popular trails include those at the Ivy Creek Natural area six miles north of the town and the Trail at Monticello.

To summarize, don’t let the chilly winter season hold you back from heading out and confine yourself to your couch. There are places and views unseen that experience moderate climate even during the peak winter season. Hopefully, one of the places on this list will implore you to pack up and head out this winter.


Wendy Tucker


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