Adventure in the Backcountry

Your Guide to Long Distance Backpacking, Backcountry Canoe Tripping, Hiking, Outdoor Gear and Adventure

Category: Hiking

What to Wear Day Hiking in the Winter

One of the most common comments I hear from people is that they find it really hard to get time outside during the winter season. The cold temperatures and snow can be a major deterrent for hikers, and I can totally relate. The key to an enjoyable winter hike all comes in wearing the proper clothing to stay warm.

Now here’s the extra challenging part: wearing heavy, thick clothing can cause you to overheat as you work up a sweat while hiking. You’ve probably experienced the feeling of sweating buckets in your heavy winter jacket and snowpants and having that awkward cycle of taking off layers, getting cold, putting them back on and then off again. It totally sucks, and let me tell you how you can make sure this never happens to you again.

The key is to find clothing pieces that have the perfect balance, you want breathable, lightweight clothing that at the same time has good insulation. Let me take you through my key gear pieces for winter hiking.

Photographer: Matt Rowlandson

Important winter gear tips to keep in mind:

DO wear layers, it will keep you warm and you can remove them if you get too hot.
DON’T wear cotton, when it absorbs sweat it looses all its thermal properties.
DO wear clothing that is conforming but allows free movement. You want to keep your body heat from escaping.


My Day Hiking Winter Gear Choices: 

Base Layers:
Wool, synthetic or a wool-synthetic hybrid fabrics
What I Wear: Women’s Oasis Leggings by Icebreaker

Fleece Sweater:
Lightweight with good isolation, they make an excellent mid-layer.
What I wear: Columbia Women’s Glacial Fleece 1/2 Zip 

Down Jacket:
Not only do they have great insolation, but down jackets are lightweight and more breathable while hiking. When purchasing a down jacket, remember the higher the ‘Fill Power’ the warmer it will be.
What I wear: Arc’teryx Women’s Cerium LT Hoody

Hard Shelled Jacket:
Venturing outside when it’s snowing or raining out? One thing to keep in mind is that once down jackets get wet they lose their insolation power. In wet conditions its a good idea to have a hardshell rain jacket that you can layer on top to stay warm and dry. When purchasing a jacket, keep in mind that GORE-TEX is the highest quality you can get in protection from the elements.
What I wear: Arc’teryx Women’s Beta AR Jacket 

Winter Leggings:
Personally I find hiking in snow pants torturous they are so heavy and I overheat so easily in them. I recently discovered that wool, or thick synthetic leggings can be super warm, lightweight and very comfortable/flexible while hiking. I am obsessed with a pair of ‘Hunting Extreme Base Layer’ Leggings from Under Armour that I shovel the drive way in and hike for long periods of time outside in.
What I wear: Under Armour Women’s Extreme Base Hunting Leggings

Wool Socks:
A lightweight wool hiking sock is your best bet for keeping your toes warm as you hike in the winter. My favourite brands are Smartwool, Darn Tough, and Wigwam.
What I wear: Smartwool Women’s PhD Outdoor Heavy Crew Socks 

Hiking Boots:
Ankle hiking boots are my go-to while hiking during the winter because they have a better coverage if the snow is a bit higher. I also find they tend to be a bit warmer because they cover more of your foot and ankle. Obviously if the snow if a bit higher then you are going to want to wear good winter boots or wear snowshoes while hiking.
What I wear: Women’s Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boots 

Toque and Mittens/Gloves: 
Keeping your ears and hands warm will make a major difference in your enjoyment of being outside for long periods of time. I recommend anything made of wool or synthetic fabric.
What I wear: Black Diamond LightWeight ScreenTap gloves


Let the Outdoor Adventures Begin!

Now that you’re all geared up, it’s time to start exploring all the trails, Parks, and conservation areas in your community. Turn off the Netflix, and work up the courage to start finally enjoying winter. With the proper gear, you will be toasty warm but ready to break out in sweat on the trail. What winter destination in on your hiking bucket list? Comment Below.

Happy Trails!

 

 

The Top 5 Day Hikes in Killarney Provincial Park

I’ve spent the past 3 seasons exploring every trail and as much of Killarney Provincial Park as possible. These spectacular trails never get old, and never fail to leave me in awe of their stunning views. The trails in the Park vary in distance, difficulty and scenery, but each one can offer you an amazing hiking experience. There is nothing quite like the clear, sparkling lakes surrounded by the white quartzite of the La Cloche Mountain Range.

Plan on visiting Killarney this season? These are the top 5 day hikes I recommend doing:

1. The Crack

Distance: 6 km
Time to hike: 4 hours
Difficulty: Difficult

There’s a reason that the ‘Crack’ has become the most famous trail in Killarney Provincial Park. It’s a bit of a rugged climb and you will be pouring sweat once you get to the top, but the view is beyond worth it. Catch panoramic views of Killarney and O.S.A lake and the stunning La Cloche Mountains surrounding them. I recommend wearing study hiking boots, bringing lots of extra water and some snacks for the top!

2. Silver Peak
Distance: 3 km Paddle, 4 km hike one way
Time to hike: 5 hours + 45 minute paddle there (plan for a full day)
Difficulty: Difficult 

Silver Peak stands at the highest elevation in Killarney Provincial Park so the view at the top allows you to see complete 360 views of the Park, Georgian Bay, Sudbury, and Manitoulin Island in the distance. To access the trail you need to canoe out on Bell Lake to the access point which connects to the La Cloche Silhouette Trail. Make sure you pay attention to trail markers and bring a backcountry map of the Park with you. The trail makes a turn and change in marker colour (blue to red) which leads you straight up to the peak, and if you don’t pay attention to the turn you will end up hiking right past it. I recommend bringing lots of extra water and a lunch for the top, because the hike is strenuous and you will want to take your time soaking in this awe-inspiring view.


3. Chikanishing Trail

Distance: 3 km
Time to hike: 1.5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Out of all the trails in Killarney, I’ve done this one the most. It’s the most easy going of the trails and is the perfect day hike when you’re not feeling like climbing some peaks. The first part of the trail takes you along colourful rocks with views of sweeping white pines and Georgian Bay. On the way back, cool down as the trail takes you through the woods and on little wooden boardwalks. Catch glimpses of wild flowers and neat plants along the way, and follow along with interpretive panels about the history of Killarney. I recommend sturdy hiking boots, lots of water, and a bathing suit if you’re feeling like a swim, because the trail takes you to some great swimming spots on Georgian Bay around the halfway point.

4. Granite Ridge

Distance: 2 km
Time to hike: 1 hour
Difficulty: Moderate

A perfect hike if you’re looking for stunning views of the Park, and a shorter, less challenging climb than the Crack or Silver Peak. Hike through the forest, old fields, and then make your way up the rocks to the top. This is my favourite hike to catch the sunset, as you can get back quickly to the start of the trail head before it gets dark (but bring a head lamp just in case). Sturdy hiking shoes and water recommended.

5. Lake of the Woods Trail

Distance: 3.5 km
Time to hike: 3 hours
Difficulty: moderate to difficult

Lake of the woods takes you through the woods, climbing up and down ridges and catching glimpses of the lake below. This is one of my favourite hikes to do in the fall time as the trail is surrounded by deciduous trees so the colours are stunning. To access the trail you have to go for a bit of a drive, as the access point is located down Bell Lake Road (about a 30 minute drive from the Main Office). I recommend good hiking shoes, water, snacks, and good friends to enjoy the views with.

I hope this helps you in planning your visit to Killarney Provincial Park visit their site for more information on Park fees and Park rules and regulations.

What’s your favourite hike in Killarney? Comment below!

Happy Trails!

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