Table of Contents

The ideal way to get started with winter hiking is to learn by hiking with experienced friends who are good teachers. For those who do not have such friends, some suggestions follow.


An alternative to knowledgeable friends is taking one of the many courses offered by outdoors clubs. A major advantage of such courses is that you get to meet many potential hiking companions among your fellow participants, and also get to know many trip leaders.

Note that some courses are offered by volunteers, and hence are usually low cost. Others are offered by the paid staff of the clubs, and are unavoidably more expensive. I list a few that I am familiar with, there are obviously many others:


Books are a very poor substitute for personal instruction, but I list some books that may be helpful. The first two books are quite useful for day hikers, in spite of their titles. They both contain good discussions of winter hiking gear and of how to travel on snow or ice, and both include a discussion of back country skiing.

And finally, two books that even experienced winter peakbaggers will find invaluable:

Web Resources

The main AMC web site has a good section on Snow Sports, with several pages of advice on gear for winter hiking. The Hiking and Backpacking Committee of the Boston Chapter of the AMC has an excellent Hiking Resources section, with several pages discussing winter hiking gear.

An excellent but brief guide to winter hiking in New Hampshire is Considerations for Winter Hiking in New Hampshire.

I am starting to add a section on winter routes to each peaks page in which I state which routes I think are best in winter. While I have given a lot of thought to my choices I realize that this is often a judgment call, so please use yours!

The various hiking bulletin boards are an excellent resource. Most have forums where trail conditions are posted and others for general discussions.

The trail conditions forums are very useful for getting an idea about the conditions of the trails. Note that conditions can rapidly change! A trail that was well broken out last weekend is likely to be covered with deep snow on Saturday if a heavy snowfall occurred mid-week! The discussion forums are most useful for answering questions about current conditions, and to some extent questions about the "best" routes to a peak. Discussions on gear quickly get emotional, as personal preferences play a very large role in gear choices. The ones I am most familiar with are: