5 Ways To Make Seacoast Winter Hikes More Enjoyable


The only way for me to get through the long winters we experience on the Seacoast is to get outside. Summer days make it easy and low stress to hit a trail with next to nothing, but enjoying nature in winter takes preparation and more “stuff”. Besides the usual, here’s a few extras that can help you and your family enjoy the awesome nature of the Seacoast on foot. It’s my five ways to make Seacoast winter hikes more enjoyable.

Seacoast hikes in winter
5 Ways To Make Seacoast Winter Hikes More Enjoyable

1. Snow Pants (and other Snow Gear)

Whether you’re going on a half mile stroll or a five mile hike, if you’re hiking with little kids put them in snow pants. My littles (age 3 and 5) spend half the hike climbing on snowy boulders, sliding down snowy mounds, or making snow angels. As a result, they are soaked by the end. Make sure everyone’s comfortable with water resistant snow pants, parka, boots, hats and mittens. Molly, the occupational therapist that writes for this site, shares her kids’ winter gear suggestions.

2. Traction

Many of the Seacoast trails get icy in winter. As people walk trails, it packs down the snow and overnight gets slick. So unless you’re hitting fresh powder after a storm, your family will be most comfortable with extra traction on your boots. 

When it’s Icy

For icy Seacoast trails, I prefer to use Kahtoola Microspikes. For my kids, I use Amazon’s version. I also have a simple and affordable solution I’ve used from Amazon. Both these have been effective in reducing falls and allowing us to enjoy trails even when slick.

When There’s Powder or Clumping Snow

For fresh powder or clumping snow, snowshoes are the better choice for the trails. Before you invest in a set of snowshoes, try them out by renting them at EMS in Portsmouth or at Philbricks in Dover. Want to try with others? Stratham Hill Park offers guided night Snowshoe Hikes (snowshoes not provided). Ready to purchase? Buy local and talk to some knowledgeable folks at Exeter’s Travel and Nature Store. They sell spikes, winter hiking boots, snowshoes and everything you need for a winter hike!

little girl enjoys a snowy hike with cleats
My daughter navigates icy and snowy trails with spikes on her boots.

3. A Thermos of Hot Cocoa

What’s better than reaching a snowy waterfall and enjoying a cup of hot cocoa?! I try to pack a snack and warm beverage on family hikes. Don’t forget some mugs or sippy cups too! Too hot? Add snow to cool it down. This is a great way to make Seacoast winter hikes more enjoyable for kids and adults.

4. A Sled

Combine a hike and a sled! Choose a Seacoast trail that is sledable and tow the kids. I usually pull mine in a simple plastic sled with a rope. If the rope isn’t long enough, consider adding some length to make it more comfortable. Older kids? Bring a small sled to butt-slide down the trail. It’s fun for grown ups too!

Pulling kids on sled on hike
My husband pulls my 5 year old son on the Seacoast Hike – Gonic Trails – in winter

5. Extra Clothes and Snacks at the Car

No matter how much I layer up my kids, snow always seems to get in. I’m always glad to have an extra change of clothes in the car in case they are wet or cold. A snack and drink for the ride home is always appreciated too.

Want to try out winter hiking but need more info? Here are a few more resources for you!

Seacoast Hikes and Nature Walks  My trail guide you can download to your phone with 10 family friendly Seacoast Hikes and Nature Walks
Try a New Family Adventure: Winter Hiking in the Whites – Some great trails to intro winter hiking in the White Mountains
What You Need to Winter Hike with a Baby – The basics on hitting a winter trail with your baby
Seacoast Sledable Nature Trails – The best trails on the Seacoast to drag a sled

Enjoy the Beauty of the Seacoast in Winter

The Seacoast is truly a scenic dream as a winter wonderland, and the best way to appreciate it is get out on a hike. Reach out to my instagram accounts Seacoast Hikes or Freelance Adventurer for advice or help getting your family outside this winter. I love helping others find ways to make Seacoast winter hikes more enjoyable.