The parking lot was empty at 8. The snow had stopped hours ago. A plow had come and scraped the road mostly clear. It was maybe 30 degrees, and I was sitting cross-legged in the back of my Subaru watching fresh flakes blow off the tree limbs and sucking down the last few gulps of my coffee. I was trying to muster some motivation.

It was well past time for some hiking and running through the woods. Sadly, it was my first real jaunt through the woods this winter. I’d been lazy and not actually looking forward to it all that much.

So slowly, I started jogging to the trail, watching my step and kind of hoping I could just get it over with. It was cold, windy and way less appealing than coffee in my kitchen.

This trail, like most, starts from a low point and climbs, burning your legs and lungs before leveling off. I get why hiking in the winter is not everyone’s idea of a great way to spend a morning.

But hear me out because it might be the best time you can spend.

Consider a couple things.

  1. No ticks or mosquitoes.
  2. No snakes. (That’s a bonus for me)
  3. No crowds.
  4. No noise

Maybe the biggest thing, though, is it’s just different. Everything is different, all the things you’re accustomed to change. The trail changes, the footing, the views, the sounds, just the feel … are different. I noticed once I got into a little rhythm how each step felt softer and more forgiving, thanks to the fresh coat. It sound predictable to talk about the peacefulness of the woods after a snowfall, but spend some doing it and then come see me. A few miles in, a squall started and snow swirled as visibility decreased. All of a sudden you’re in a snow globe, trotting along, soaking in a scene you’ll can’t find on Facebook. Many of us struggle to spend the time doing the things we love. It’s hard to find the time – let alone the motivation to trudge out of the house and into the forest in January.

But I’m here to say it’s worth it. The trip is worth your time. Soak in the winter scene and breathe in that cold air and step out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t take any special skill to hike in the winter. It takes nothing more than a willingness to see something new. And socks, bring warm wool socks. In fact, bring a second pair to slip into for the ride home. You’ll thank me for that tip.