Getting outside is often associated with warm sunny days, blooming flowers, and active wildlife. However, here in Butler County, we know that cold weather remains the reality for several months of our year. Snow on the ground and grey skies might not be as enticing as the summertime, but getting outside in the winter can be just as beautiful and beneficial for our wellbeing. It all starts with the right preparation.
Dress In The Right Layers – The first steps on the trail are sure to be chilly, however your body will quickly heat up with movement. That’s why it is important to dress in layers you can easily remove and put back on. Though it may seem unlikely, you will also work up a sweat. Wearing wicking fabrics as a base layer will pull sweat away from the skin and dry quickly to prevent hypothermia.
Wear A Hat – Our brains require oxygen in order to maintain function. Covering our heads will not only contain precious body heat, but also keep our bodies working properly. And make sure those ears are covered!
Remember The Sunscreen – Though you might think you only need sunscreen in the summer, the sun’s rays can still be powerful in the winter, especially when its glare reflects off the snow.
Plan Your Days Accordingly – Though the winter solstice has passed and our days are stretching longer, dusk still settles before 6 P.M. Ensure that you will have enough daylight hours before beginning an outdoor activity. And it is always good practice to pack a headlamp or flashlight just in case.
Choose The Right Footwear – Keeping your feet warm is crucial to warming the rest of your body. Wearing waterproof boots/shoes and wool socks will not only protect your feet from the snow, but also keep them cozy! You may even consider double layering with socks. Because ice and snow can be present on the trail during this time of year, also ensure that your shoes have ample traction to prevent injury.
Check The Weather – In Ohio, we know that weather conditions can change quickly. It never hurts to check before you go. Precipitation, temperatures, and winds can have impacts on your outdoor activities. Remember: better safe than sorry. If the conditions are too dangerous, it’s okay to have a Plan B that’s spent indoors!
Though getting outside in winter may take some added preparations and extra motivation, the outdoors continue to offer endless benefits, regardless of season. From increasing serotonin levels, to strengthening immune systems, and allowing us to slow down, nature remains the health boost we all need as we enter 2023! Remember that getting outside doesn’t have to be complicated and time-consuming. Sometimes all it takes is a breath of fresh air.
If you’re looking for some destinations and trails to visit this winter, MetroParks has compiled our own Top 5 Snow Day Activities List (in no particular order):
1. Chill Hill at Voice of America MetroPark – West Chester Township, OH
Found at the entrance of Voice of America, this 65 foot hill is perfect for sledding after a snowfall!
2. Chill Hill at Rentschler Forest MetroPark – Hamilton, OH
Rentschler Forest has its own version of Chill Hill in its Reigart Road Area.
3. Mound Trail at Indian Creek MetroPark – Oxford, OH
An easy 0.5 mile loop trail found in the Springfield Road Area of Indian Creek MetroPark.
4. Dave’s Trace Trail at the Meadow Ridge Area of Elk Creek MetroPark – Middletown, OH
For those looking for a longer trek, Dave’s Trace Trail is a 2.8 mile loop around the North Pond and Meadow Ridge Lake at Elk Creek MetroPark.
5. Creekside Trail at the Forest Run Wildlife Preserve – Hamilton, OH
An easy 0.7 mile loop trail offering beautiful meadow and creek scenery.