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.
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 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!
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
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
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
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:
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.
Check Out My Blog For More Nature Study Ideas
- More Nature Study Book 2 Winter Wonder
Ten completely new challenges using the Handbook of Nature Study. See a Sample Challenge. 13 notebook pages and 5 coloring pages 17 Upper Level notebook pages for advanced or experienced students 11 Charlotte Mason style exam questions Complete list
Leave a question or a comment!
anonymous on February 11, 2013:
Lovely lens! Thank you!
Mech from Bosnia and Herzegvina on January 13, 2013:
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 on January 10, 2013:
Gorgeous lens on winter. Loved it!
musicah123 on January 08, 2013:
Great activity for families. Your pictures added to your reflections of family time together in the winter.
suepogson on January 08, 2013:
Wow - I miss winter. Looking at your photos I can smell it. Thank you.
bbsoulful2 on December 22, 2012:
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 on March 13, 2012:
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 on March 13, 2012:
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.
Nancy Johnson from Mesa, Arizona on March 13, 2012:
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 on March 13, 2012:
Great ideas for winter walks. The photos remind me of when I lived in the snow country.
flycatcherrr on March 13, 2012:
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*
Anthony Godinho from Ontario, Canada on March 13, 2012:
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 on March 13, 2012:
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 on March 13, 2012:
Lots of great ideas! Angel Blessed
RinchenChodron on March 13, 2012:
Some great ideas for lesson plans and family outings in the winter. Well done.
Tamara14 on March 13, 2012:
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 from Maryland on March 13, 2012:
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 from Land of Aloha on March 11, 2012:
I really enjoyed the variety of information and the lovely pictures on this page.
waldenthreenet on March 04, 2012:
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.
anonymous on February 26, 2012:
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.
ohcaroline on February 18, 2012:
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 on February 13, 2012:
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 on February 04, 2012:
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!
Renaissance Woman from Colorado on February 02, 2012:
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!
anonymous on February 01, 2012:
gr8 lens with good info
Mishael A Witty on February 01, 2012:
Great tips here. I love how you include the whole family in the trip. Wonderful idea!
Frankie Kangas from California on February 01, 2012:
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 on February 01, 2012:
I have never been snowshoeing... but I think that it would be a lot of fun. I love going for nature walks :)
Linda Pogue from Missouri on February 01, 2012:
Walking in the winter is magical. Thank you for sharing! Blessings!
anonymous on January 26, 2012:
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.
Loraine Brummer from Hartington, Nebraska on January 22, 2012:
Beautiful pictures. Lovely lens.
Katie Harp on January 21, 2012:
blessed by a squid angel :) <3
Nimsrules LM on January 21, 2012:
Well deserved purple star for this lens. Winter is very adorable and you've put it quite aptly.
Daphsam LM on January 20, 2012:
Great lens! Very informative:)
casquid on January 20, 2012:
N Beaulieu on January 20, 2012:
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 on January 20, 2012:
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!
editionh on January 20, 2012:
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.
nursecraft on January 19, 2012:
I found the list of things to take on a winter nature walk to be interesting
cleanyoucar on January 18, 2012:
I love nature, would love to do this when I go back to the US.
stylesuxx on January 18, 2012:
Awesome lens. I like the pictures a lot and the Snow Shoes look like a very good idea.
OzGirl LM on January 17, 2012:
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.
fullofshoes on January 17, 2012:
Lots of really good information. Bookmarked for future reference!
blue22d on January 16, 2012:
Great ideas given here, especially the video posting on reading maps. Thanks for this lens.
totalhealth on January 16, 2012:
seems so much fun to explore nature during winter. thanks for sharing the ideas and tips.
terracroatia on January 16, 2012:
Wonderful lens, really! Surprisingly many people don't like winter, though a snowy landscape can be so beautiful.
bjslapidary on January 16, 2012:
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 on January 15, 2012:
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 on January 15, 2012:
Returned to bless this.
E L Seaton from Virginia on January 14, 2012:
I have never used snow shoes but can cerainly add something so tranquil as a tromp into the winter wonderland to my bucket list!
Ken McVay from Nanaimo, British Columbia on January 12, 2012:
Well thought out and useful - Blessed for the content and planning.
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 12, 2012:
I find winter walks more refreshing.
anonymous on January 12, 2012:
Beautiful lens, I can feel your love for the outdoors:) *Blessed
LadyCharlie on January 10, 2012:
Great Lens and very nice photos... Blessed and enjoyed!
kathysart on January 10, 2012:
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 on January 08, 2012:
Beautiful photos! Blessed
DebMartin on January 08, 2012:
Wow. What a great lens. As a winter hiker, I sure appreciate your perspective. Thanks
hughgrissettsr lm on January 08, 2012:
enjoyed your lens! well done!
Pastor Cher from United States on January 07, 2012:
Really nice lens. I love the scavenger hunt idea. Haven't done one in years. Good tips to follow, especially in the winter.
Chris-Jackson on January 07, 2012:
That looks like fun, but honestly some snowboarding would be a good addition, haha!!!
girlfriendfactory on January 06, 2012:
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!
jeremykim2011 on January 06, 2012:
Thanks for the tips and guidelines! Great lens!
sheezie77 on January 06, 2012:
Keep up the good work thumbs up!
rockhardtreats1 on January 06, 2012:
If your craving is for the great outdoors, this is some great information for you.
WriterJanis2 on January 06, 2012:
Very nicely done.
baby-strollers on January 05, 2012:
It's a great idea. Get out with the kiddies and go for a stroll...
askdaguru lm on January 05, 2012:
fullofshoes on January 05, 2012:
Great lens. We live in an area where winter hikes are common. Bookmarked!
deckdesign on January 04, 2012:
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 from WNY on January 04, 2012:
Very nice lens! I love taking winter walks, and the scavenger hunt idea sounds really cool. :)
timo5150 lm on January 04, 2012:
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 on January 04, 2012:
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. =)
anonymous on January 04, 2012:
there's nothing like a good long winter walk :) Great lens!
tq01089 on January 04, 2012:
winter nature walks are especially fun when it's snowy, at night with a full moon
dannydeu on January 04, 2012:
Great lens. I grow up in Colorado, so I love the look of snow. Not the cold, but the look. Nice work again.
mogulmedia on January 04, 2012:
I love the clear blue skies you get in winter on a freezing day!
Annamadagan on January 03, 2012:
Fun! I love the snow. Beautiful times come in the winter. Nice lens.
ThatsYourPeople on January 03, 2012:
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.
anonymous on January 03, 2012:
They look beautiful - however I tend to hibernate indoors as soon as the cold weather hits!
RaintreeAnnie from UK on January 03, 2012:
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 from USA on January 02, 2012:
Great lens! I was recently complaining about being stuck mostly indoors for the winter.
lasertek lm on January 02, 2012:
I like the pictures you have shared.
cyberwizzard on January 02, 2012:
Well done! I love how a fresh snowfall makes everything stand out. Winter at times can be quite breathtaking.
anonymous on January 02, 2012:
Nature is pretty awesome
SecondHandJoe LM on January 02, 2012:
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 on January 02, 2012:
Fantastic lens, enjoyed it a lot!
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 01, 2012:
Reminds me of our winters in Ottawa and the cottage. A refreshing walk.
anonymous on January 01, 2012:
love taking winter walks
MariaMontgomery from Central Florida, USA on January 01, 2012:
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
jimmyworldstar on January 01, 2012:
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.
Kirsti A. Dyer from Northern California on January 01, 2012:
New Year's Blessings for a wonderful lens.
Vicki Green from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA on December 29, 2011:
I love taking walks in the winter so enjoyed your lens. Lots of great ideas for making a winter walk more interesting and fun!
trigger19 on December 13, 2011:
would love to walk in winter but wife only does summer walks www.cottingham.tv
eclecticeducati1 on August 15, 2011:
My little guy loves nature walks! Great lens. Blessed by a Squid Angel.
Kirsti A. Dyer from Northern California on April 01, 2011:
We are here in a snowy Yosemite and will be out doing several winter walks over the next few days. Thanks for the advice.
Patricia on March 17, 2011:
Happy St. Patrick's day! Leprechaun blessings to you!
anonymous on March 16, 2011:
Very inspiring lens you have here. Thanks for sharing!
AuthorNormaBudden on March 08, 2011:
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 Stone from New York City on February 08, 2011:
Having grown up in the country and spent many fun hours outdoors, I found this lens refreshing and inspiring. Nice.
Moe Wood from Eastern Ontario on February 05, 2011:
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.