Reflection on Winter Hikes

Reflection on Winter Hikes

Imagine if Seattle residents only hiked when it was sunny and 70 degrees? They would never go outside.  

Seattle’s higher than average outdoor recreation participation level shows us that their residents have learned something that perhaps we have forgotten – there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear (and that coffee/caffeine make every activity possible).  

Core to The Parklands’ mission is to help you find ways to enjoy special moments in the park all twelve months of the year because at last check, we don’t live in San Diego or Miami. Our most beautiful days are not defined always by 70 degrees and sun. Sometimes our best days are 38 degrees and cloudy! This is doubly true if you are like me and tend to be a mosquito magnet in the warmer months. 

It has been my pleasure to serve as a trail guide for members-only hikes this winter. Guiding these winter walks often gives me pause as I get to watch a new and authentic relationship develop between a park/natural resource and visitor. This pause quickly turns to awe as I take note that the relationship develops in places and at times of the year when folks may have thought the park was dormant. It’s these quiet “ah ha” moments that make all the work, planning, meetings, budgets, processes, and details worth the effort.

Lately, I've been watching folks appreciate the Kentucky winter landscape for its simple beauty.  The gentle grays, mellow oranges, and muted browns add an air of contemplation to this place we call home.  And, just when the landscape’s subdued tones settle the soul, a flash of color pops almost if on demand. Peeks at white tailed deer, river otters, pileated woodpeckers, eastern bluebirds, and every kind of raptor imaginable remind us that this landscape is a living, thriving, and constantly changing place.  While we often think of parks as destination landscapes, the truth is that in parks, we encounter never ending change. No park visit is the same twice, because you are never entering the same place twice.

And for seeing and being part of change in the outdoors, these winter moments pass by far too quickly.  Listening to the evening news, I’m convinced that most harbor a wish to rush through winter and the cold dreary days of February in a mad race to spring. Well, the spring story is starting now. If you are out in The Parklands over the next couple of weeks, you will see the dogwoods readying for their annual explosion of color as they set their buds and their mottled gray trunks and branches stand out a little bit more against the forest backdrop. Stepping into the woods you can somehow “feel” the larger oaks and hickories acknowledging that it’s almost time for the little guys in the forest to have their moments of flowering glory.

I encourage you to embrace cold weather exploration and watch this very special season as it won’t come again in the same way you will experience it now. Bundle up, pick a route, take your time, and you too may begin to see your Old Kentucky Home in a new way.

Here are some recommendations to make the most out of your winter visit:

Become a Member