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Winter Nature Walks

Updated on November 20, 2016

Taking a Winter Nature Walk- Family-Style

This time of year many of us are looking out our windows and seeing lots of rain and snow. Not exactly the ideal time to get outside as a family to take a nature walk but with a little preparation and determination you can make this a great time to experience the outdoors.

The trees have lost their leaves and the world looks different, even the most familiar of places is a different scene in the winter.

So are you ready to do some winter hikes and nature walks? Looking for winter nature study ideas? Would you like some winter inspiration? I have gathered lots of my own lesson plans, ideas, and resources into a great page for you to read.

"We speak of winter as bare, but this is only a contrast with summer. In the summer all things are familiar and close; the depths are covered. The view is restricted. We see things near by. In the winter things are uncovered. Old objects take new forms. You analyze and gain insight."

The Nature Study Idea, L.H. Bailey. Written in 1909.

Family Hikes in the Snow

Family Hikes in the Snow
Family Hikes in the Snow

Important Things to Remember for Winter Hiking

*Check the weather forecast.

*Know when to turn around if weather or terrain becomes unsafe.

*Always leave a planned itinerary (stick to it) with a family member or friend.

*Wear appropriate footwear and clothing. You should think about dressing in layers.

*Snacks and water are just important on a winter hike. I usually work up a sweat and a drink of water is a welcome break after a few miles.

*Leave a dry change of clothes in the car in case you need to swap out wet clothing after a fall.

*Don't forget to bring tissues or handkerchief for cold noses.

*If you plan on taking photos, wear a thinner glove so you are not always putting on and them removing your gloves.

Winter Hikes

Winter Hikes
Winter Hikes

Winter Walks: Ideas for Study

Here are some subjects to study while you are on your winter nature hike:

1. Trees-look at the shapes of the trunks and branches, notice which trees are evergreens and which are deciduous.

2. Birds-this time of year the birds are still active

3. Clouds or the weather-perfect time to learn about the various types of clouds

4. Mammals-tracks are visible in the mud and snow

Don't Forget Your Camera!

Don't Forget Your Camera!
Don't Forget Your Camera!
Snow shoes for winter hiking
Snow shoes for winter hiking

Snow Shoes Give a Whole New Experience

As our family has gained experience in winter hiking, we have enjoyed wearing snow shoes to take us places that are more isolated and wild. We take our favorite summer hikes and see what they look like during the winter.

Snow shoes don't take much time to learn to master and once you get the feel for walking in them, you feel a sense of freedom to go places where there is a lot of snow.

We have been able to see lots of animal tracks as we hike through the snow. Our boys like to use their observation skills to learn more about winter wildlife. With a pair of snow shoes you can soon be away from all other people to experience the winter woods like never before.

Check your local area bookstores for snow shoe maps and trail ideas.

Snow Shoes on Amazon - A Great Investment in Winter Hiking Adventures

Tubbs Women's Frontier Snowshoe
Tubbs Women's Frontier Snowshoe

We purchased our snowshoes at REI but there are plenty of local places you can purchase a good snow shoe. They are more lightweight than you imagine and easy to adjust to your normal snow boots. We spent around $100 a pair for ours three years ago and they are still in perfect condition after lots of miles of hiking.

I highly recommend investing in a pair as part of your winter sporting gear.

The size of snow shoe you purchase is dependent on your weight so make sure you check for proper size.


Love My Snowshoes!

Love My Snowshoes!
Love My Snowshoes!

Compass Basics for Hiking - Navigating Using a Compass

This is for more advanced winter hikes using a map and compass. This video will give you a basic idea of how to get started with this helpful and important skill if you are going to go hiking in the woods in the winter.

Experience Winter at Its Best

Experience Winter at Its Best
Experience Winter at Its Best
Animal Tracks in the Snow Lake Tahoe
Animal Tracks in the Snow Lake Tahoe

Tracks in the Snow

Observing Nature in Winter

Nothing can bring more excitement than to find some great tracks in the snow. Our family has fun imagining what animal has been out making tracks for us to see. We have been able to identify quite a few animals as we gain experience: Snowshoe Hare, River Otter, Squirrels, Deer, Dogs. We have also found quite a few sets of tracks that we aren't sure about so we purchased a field guide specifically for mammal tracks. This has opened up a whole new opportunity for winter nature study.

Field Guide for Animal Tracks

Peterson Field Guide to Animal Tracks: Third Edition (Peterson Field Guides)
Peterson Field Guide to Animal Tracks: Third Edition (Peterson Field Guides)

This is a little heavy to carry in a pocket but if you are carrying a day pack it is a fine guide to take along. More often than not, I opt to leave this in the car and use it with my photos to identify tracks we find. I would love to find something a little more portable but in the meantime, we really like the thorough coverage for each animal and the photos.

You can also use this one year-round so it makes a good investment.

Winter Tree Finder: A Manual for Identifying Deciduous Trees in Winter (Eastern US) (Nature Study Guides)
Winter Tree Finder: A Manual for Identifying Deciduous Trees in Winter (Eastern US) (Nature Study Guides)

This is a wonderful tool for identifying trees in the winter season. The silhouettes of trees give us readily observed clues to the tree's identity. This compact nature guide will fit in a pocket or a day pack as you hike or snowshoe your winter woods. I have used this book with my family for many years and highly recommend it!


Peaceful Winter Woods

Peaceful Winter Woods
Peaceful Winter Woods

What do you need to take on a hike?

General Items We Take On a Nature Hike (any time of the year)

So you are ready to take that nature hike and you don't know what to pack in your daypack. Here are a few tips that I can give to help you get started.

Must Haves for your nature journal:

1. Journal: I prefer smaller spiral-bound with heavy drawing paper, no lines

2. Small pencil box with assorted colored pencils. Watercolor colored pencils are a great choice

3. One or two sizes of paintbrushes and a small cup for water

4. Pencil sharpener

5. Ziplock bags for items you collect

6. Magnifying lens

7. Field guides if you are going to do your identifying on the trail otherwise leave them in the car for when you return

8. Snack if you are going to be gone for any length of time

9. Wet wipes in a small baggie for easy clean-ups

10. Small First aid kit

11. Map of area

12. Camera! I never leave home without my camera to capture images of things we will want to research later or to remember to for our journals.

Fun to have but not necessary:

1. Binoculars

2. Plant press

3. Net for insects

4. Digital camera for the kids to carry in their own pack.

5. Small containers for catching critters

Necessary items to have at least in the car:

1. Bottles of water

2. Change of clothes, just in case (including shoes and socks)

3. Sunblock and/or insect repellant

4. Towels or blanket in case you need a place to sit or something to dry off with

Most importantly, take along a really good attitude and leave yourself open to whatever the experience brings. Allow your children to direct you to things they find interesting and then share in their excitement. A good nature walk is pleasurable for everyone and allows you and your children to develop a relationship with our Creator. The best times I can remember with my children are the times we just took it slow and easy, looking for the little things that most people pass by. Turn over a rock and see what's underneath. Look up in the branches of the trees and see if you can find any birds or other critters. Sit quietly by the edge of a pond or stream and see what comes along. Breathe the air and enjoy the day.

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Lovely lens! Thank you!

    • mechanicaleye profile image

      Eda Ċ kulj 5 years ago from Bosnia and Herzegvina

      I love winter walks, but my last winter hiking trip backfired - despite the favorable weather forecast. I have successfully picked up a rather bad cold, but I suppose I don't regret it. Lesson learned.

    • ForestsOfTranqu profile image

      ForestsOfTranqu 5 years ago

      Gorgeous lens on winter. Loved it!

    • musicah123 profile image

      musicah123 5 years ago

      Great activity for families. Your pictures added to your reflections of family time together in the winter.

    • suepogson profile image

      suepogson 5 years ago

      Wow - I miss winter. Looking at your photos I can smell it. Thank you.

    • bbsoulful2 profile image

      bbsoulful2 5 years ago

      I love winter hikes! I'm glad you talked about snowshoes -- I've been eyeing them for the guys for awhile now! Blessed by a Giant Squid!

    • Ram Ramakrishnan profile image

      Ram Ramakrishnan 5 years ago

      Know this, O worthy and diligent lensmaster;

      With accomplishment youâve earned a tryster.

      As a token of immense appreciation expressed,

      A squid angel leaves this lens heartily blessed.

      On a rendering that is sparkling in its own right,

      Propagating an appealing thought well and quite;

      If you were to notice a slender shimmering crust;

      From the angelâs wand, it is a spill of stardust.

    • Ram Ramakrishnan profile image

      Ram Ramakrishnan 5 years ago

      When looked upon as an essential element in the larger scheme of things;

      An indispensable process, for the bounties that the season to follow brings;

      A pity that it is linked to pessimism; in its acclaim there is never a spiel;

      Winter is indeed an amazing journey with astounding surprises to reveal.

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      I loved taking my sons up to Tahoe and enjoying the winter snow. We have tried snowshoes, skiing and snowboarding. My favorite spot was in front of the fire at the lodge. Thanks for bringing back memories with this lens.

    • MarilynImanse profile image

      MarilynImanse 5 years ago

      Great ideas for winter walks. The photos remind me of when I lived in the snow country.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      This is just lovely. I have fond memories of family winter nature walks, when I was a kid with my very first pair of snowshoes. *blessed*

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Winter nature walks sounds like an interesting and unique idea. We've had a pretty mild winter here in Toronto and now I'm looking forward to spring and summer. Thanks for sharing this beautiful and informative lens. Blessed! :)

    • WoodlandBard profile image

      WoodlandBard 5 years ago

      Beautiful, beautiful lens, Yosemite very special time, and I love a bird sanctuary on the Salt Lake in Utah in winter. Yes, when i visit the USA in winter there are wonders, but now here's a peek to say farewell to this winter :-)

    • dwnovacek profile image

      dwnovacek 5 years ago

      Lots of great ideas! Angel Blessed

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 5 years ago

      Some great ideas for lesson plans and family outings in the winter. Well done.

    • profile image

      Tamara14 5 years ago

      Like many winters before this winter too our kids hated my husband and me for making them walk outside more than they like to during winter (except for skiing), but as little as half an hour per day makes such a difference. Thanks for making winter so interesting with your lens :)

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

      You make a winter nature walk look very appealing! I usually stay inside when it's cold, but now I'm a little bit intrigued! :) Very pretty pictures!

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I really enjoyed the variety of information and the lovely pictures on this page.

    • waldenthreenet profile image

      waldenthreenet 5 years ago

      Remembering Rachel Carson's Nature walks in her childhood that shaped her life. Congrads on your Squidoo trophy. Conversations helps with new ideas and new topics. Thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What a great lens. I can get my kids to go anywhere when it's warm, but they hibernate in the cold. But you're right, everything is so much more open. Will try again. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 6 years ago

      I remember taking nature hikes in the snow growing up. Very invigorating. You always come home refreshed...and don't forget the hot chocolate when you get home! This is very informative. I enjoyed the compass navigation you tube.

    • waldenthreenet profile image

      waldenthreenet 6 years ago

      Valuable topic. Just did a "nature inspired" lense, in fact two. Congrads on your Squidoo Trophy. Am going for my next. What is creativity ? Thanks.

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 6 years ago

      I love walking in the woods in the winter. It's so quiet and one can see the contours of the hills more clearly with the leaves off the trees. Thanks for a great lens!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      This is great. Loved your video and being introduced to your creative personality live and in person. Winter is my favorite time to hike. I don't have to worry about rattlesnakes, there aren't many noisy people out and about, and the world that is concealed in summer is laid bare for my enjoyment. Tracking the wild animals - perhaps my favorite winter activity - is so easy in the snow. Hoping to try out some snowshoes this winter. Thanks for a great lens. Appreciated!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      gr8 lens with good info

    • Mishael A Witty profile image

      Mishael A Witty 6 years ago

      Great tips here. I love how you include the whole family in the trip. Wonderful idea!

    • Franksterk profile image

      Frankie Kangas 6 years ago from California

      Absolutely excellent lens. You make me want to go out on a nature hike, however, it is raining here now. I like especially that you added things people can learn and what a person should take with them on a hike -- necessary things like first aid items. Blessed. Bear hugs, Frankster

    • JoleneBelmain profile image

      JoleneBelmain 6 years ago

      I have never been snowshoeing... but I think that it would be a lot of fun. I love going for nature walks :)

    • Linda Pogue profile image

      Linda Pogue 6 years ago from Missouri

      Walking in the winter is magical. Thank you for sharing! Blessings!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What a wonderful winter walking experience you have laid out here. You brought back memories of our family walks in a winter wonderland. One of my favorite things to do was to try to identify all the animal tracks we would come across....everything from mice to wolves. Blessed.

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 6 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      Beautiful pictures. Lovely lens.

    • snazzify lm profile image

      Katie Harp 6 years ago

      blessed by a squid angel :) <3

    • Nimsrules LM profile image

      Nirmal Shah 6 years ago from India

      Well deserved purple star for this lens. Winter is very adorable and you've put it quite aptly.

    • Daphsam LM profile image

      Daphsam LM 6 years ago

      Great lens! Very informative:)

    • casquid profile image

      casquid 6 years ago

      Nice Lens

    • N Beaulieu profile image

      N Beaulieu 6 years ago

      Great lens! I see why it earned a purple star. I'm an avid snowshoer and after reading your lens and looking at your beautiful pictures I want to head outside right now. One of my favorite things to do on a winter hike is to stop and listen. The woods seem much quieter during the winter as opposed to summer.

    • nestboxes profile image

      nestboxes 6 years ago

      Really good lens, I love nature and the big outdoors and have been lucky enough to visit Yosemite (and Yellowstone). Would like to try the snow shoes!

    • profile image

      editionh 6 years ago

      After reading your lens I wish we would have some snow here again. I like the special light in winter forest too. One can see much further and to look at the patterns of trunks and branches is a delight. Also I can see more wild life in winter.

    • profile image

      nursecraft 6 years ago

      I found the list of things to take on a winter nature walk to be interesting

    • profile image

      cleanyoucar 6 years ago

      I love nature, would love to do this when I go back to the US.

    • stylesuxx profile image

      stylesuxx 6 years ago

      Awesome lens. I like the pictures a lot and the Snow Shoes look like a very good idea.

    • OzGirl LM profile image

      OzGirl LM 6 years ago

      Love your ideas here... thumbs up!! :) I may check out the animal tracks book - we live on 27 acres and it would be nice to identify some of the tracks I see on our property.

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 6 years ago

      Lots of really good information. Bookmarked for future reference!

    • blue22d profile image

      blue22d 6 years ago

      Great ideas given here, especially the video posting on reading maps. Thanks for this lens.

    • profile image

      totalhealth 6 years ago

      seems so much fun to explore nature during winter. thanks for sharing the ideas and tips.

    • terracroatia profile image

      terracroatia 6 years ago

      Wonderful lens, really! Surprisingly many people don't like winter, though a snowy landscape can be so beautiful.

    • bjslapidary profile image

      bjslapidary 6 years ago

      Walking in the snow can be so much fun. It's always so beautiful after a fresh snow. May have to try snowshoes again.

    • KarenTBTEN profile image

      KarenTBTEN 6 years ago

      It's been snowing off and on for the past 24 hours in Seattle -- first snow of the season in a city that gets very little. A man with little boys about four and six was talking about how a neighborhood walk to the store became something more exciting in the snow. SquidAngel blessings.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 6 years ago

      Returned to bless this.

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 6 years ago from Virginia

      I have never used snow shoes but can cerainly add something so tranquil as a tromp into the winter wonderland to my bucket list!

    • Dragon 40 profile image

      Ken McVay 6 years ago from Nanaimo, British Columbia

      Well thought out and useful - Blessed for the content and planning.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I find winter walks more refreshing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Beautiful lens, I can feel your love for the outdoors:) *Blessed

    • LadyCharlie profile image

      LadyCharlie 6 years ago

      Great Lens and very nice photos... Blessed and enjoyed!

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 6 years ago

      This is such a lovely lens, I can understand why it got a purple heart. I feel like taking a winter walk in the snow after viewing it. Angel blessed!

    • hsschulte profile image

      hsschulte 6 years ago

      Beautiful photos! Blessed

    • profile image

      DebMartin 6 years ago

      Wow. What a great lens. As a winter hiker, I sure appreciate your perspective. Thanks

    • hughgrissettsr lm profile image

      hughgrissettsr lm 6 years ago

      enjoyed your lens! well done!

    • PastorCher profile image

      Pastor Cher 6 years ago from United States

      Really nice lens. I love the scavenger hunt idea. Haven't done one in years. Good tips to follow, especially in the winter.

    • profile image

      Chris-Jackson 6 years ago

      That looks like fun, but honestly some snowboarding would be a good addition, haha!!!

    • girlfriendfactory profile image

      girlfriendfactory 6 years ago

      Awesome job (and I don't like cold weather even though I grew up in Colorado)! Snow shoes sure do look different than the ones we used. Those look like they might hover! ;) This almost makes me miss the snow, but not quite! I'll live vicariously through you!

    • profile image

      jeremykim2011 6 years ago

      Thanks for the tips and guidelines! Great lens!

    • profile image

      sheezie77 6 years ago

      Keep up the good work thumbs up!

    • profile image

      rockhardtreats1 6 years ago

      If your craving is for the great outdoors, this is some great information for you.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 6 years ago

      Very nicely done.

    • profile image

      baby-strollers 6 years ago

      It's a great idea. Get out with the kiddies and go for a stroll...

    • askdaguru lm profile image

      askdaguru lm 6 years ago


    • profile image

      fullofshoes 6 years ago

      Great lens. We live in an area where winter hikes are common. Bookmarked!

    • deckdesign profile image

      deckdesign 6 years ago

      Great lens on nature walks. I did a hike with my family on the weekend and it was nice to get into the woods and spend some time with everyone. And the dog really enjoyed it too!

    • pheonix76 profile image

      pheonix76 6 years ago from WNY

      Very nice lens! I love taking winter walks, and the scavenger hunt idea sounds really cool. :)

    • timo5150 lm profile image

      timo5150 lm 6 years ago

      Great lens love the outdoors but you forgot the number one most important item as a must carry anytime you venture into the wilderness. A survival kit, so much unnecessary suffering which sometimes leads to death simply because people fail to have one. A first aid kit is good but does not substitute a survival kit.

    • lilymom24 profile image

      lilymom24 6 years ago

      I live in Maine and so far this year, we have had very little snow. We might be getting some next week which will make it a little more fun for outdoor activities. Nice winter lens. =)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      there's nothing like a good long winter walk :) Great lens!

    • profile image

      tq01089 6 years ago

      winter nature walks are especially fun when it's snowy, at night with a full moon

    • dannydeu profile image

      dannydeu 6 years ago

      Great lens. I grow up in Colorado, so I love the look of snow. Not the cold, but the look. Nice work again.

    • profile image

      mogulmedia 6 years ago

      I love the clear blue skies you get in winter on a freezing day!

      Beautiful lens...

    • profile image

      Annamadagan 6 years ago

      Fun! I love the snow. Beautiful times come in the winter. Nice lens.

    • ThatsYourPeople profile image

      ThatsYourPeople 6 years ago

      This is such a lovely lens. We live in California now but when we lived in a snowy climate we used to take winter walks often. It was just such a beautiful time to enjoy the outdoors.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      They look beautiful - however I tend to hibernate indoors as soon as the cold weather hits!

    • RaintreeAnnie profile image

      RaintreeAnnie 6 years ago from UK

      We love going for long winter walks. When we had our Golden dog we really had no choice ! However we still go now and it is great to get out in the fresh air. As long as we are wrapped up and prepared as you say it is fun. Also lovely to come back to a warm fire and cosy up :)

    • Sara Krentz profile image

      Sara Krentz 6 years ago from USA

      Great lens! I was recently complaining about being stuck mostly indoors for the winter.

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 6 years ago

      I like the pictures you have shared.

    • profile image

      cyberwizzard 6 years ago

      Well done! I love how a fresh snowfall makes everything stand out. Winter at times can be quite breathtaking.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Nature is pretty awesome

    • SecondHandJoe LM profile image

      SecondHandJoe LM 6 years ago

      You might want to consider also, toilet paper or wet-naps! What about a weapon for big wild animal attacks? Big Cats are often a lot hungrier in the winter with food being more scarce. I also like to have a cell phone or portable 2 meter ham radio. I guess it really depends on where you are hiking. Loved your lens!

    • krakensquid profile image

      krakensquid 6 years ago

      Fantastic lens, enjoyed it a lot!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Reminds me of our winters in Ottawa and the cottage. A refreshing walk.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      love taking winter walks

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 6 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      It's winter here in Alabama. Although it is highly unusual, I still have strawberries blooming today on 1/1/2012. My daffodils are about 3-4 inches tall. I keep telling to go back to sleep, that it's not yet time to wake up, but do you think they listen to me? The thing about our winters, it could be 35 one day and 62 the next day. A 1/2 inch of snow, and the entire city shuts down -- everything, that is, except essential services, as we don't have/need the expensive snow removal equipment. Those are beautiful scenes in your lens, but I'm really glad not to have to suffer snow all winter. Beautiful lens. Liked

    • profile image

      jimmyworldstar 6 years ago

      Making sure you wear proper clothing and staying hydrated is the most important part of a winter hike. You can easily get lost if everything's covered in snow and you have no landmark to guide your way back too.

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 6 years ago from Northern California

      New Year's Blessings for a wonderful lens.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 6 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      I love taking walks in the winter so enjoyed your lens. Lots of great ideas for making a winter walk more interesting and fun!

    • profile image

      trigger19 6 years ago

      would love to walk in winter but wife only does summer walks

    • eclecticeducati1 profile image

      eclecticeducati1 6 years ago

      My little guy loves nature walks! Great lens. Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 6 years ago from Northern California

      We are here in a snowy Yosemite and will be out doing several winter walks over the next few days. Thanks for the advice.

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 6 years ago

      Happy St. Patrick's day! Leprechaun blessings to you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Very inspiring lens you have here. Thanks for sharing!

    • AuthorNormaBudden profile image

      AuthorNormaBudden 6 years ago

      This is a beautifully presented lens. I've truly enjoyed my visit and I enjoy nature walks at any time of year but I especially love the winter white. Living in Arctic Canada, I'd say that's a good thing. :)

      This lens has been featured at Squid Angel Wings.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 7 years ago from New York City

      Having grown up in the country and spent many fun hours outdoors, I found this lens refreshing and inspiring. Nice.

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 7 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      I love winter walks especially away from roads and highways so I can really hear the sound of nature or that extra special silence that comes with snowfall.