If you're planning to take on a hiking adventure to a far flung location in the future one thing you will need to take into account is the seasonal conditions in the location you plan to visit. Some of the most beautiful hiking destinations in the world are in areas that can have extreme weather so it can be best to avoid them when they're at their toughest.
This should be one of the many things that should influence your decision on where to go. This may seem like stating the obvious but unless you're a very seasoned and experienced hiker looking for a challenge, there are some simple guidelines you should use to help ensure that when choosing a hiking destination you pick the right one.
You don't want to get yourself into trouble or to be disappointed when you realize a hiking trip you've started out on can't go ahead due to the weather conditions. In short, there are places that are good to go in every season and there are places to avoid. Let's take a closer look at these below.
In the winter time some of the best exotic hiking destinations can be deserts, places in the opposite hemisphere, the tropics and sub tropics. Deserts are hot all year round (except at night time of course) but coolest in winter so it is a good time to experience this unforgiving environment.
Opposing hemispheres normally have opposite climates. So, for example, when it's winter time in the UK it will be cold but hot in Australia.
Finally, the Tropics and Sub-tropics are best experienced in winter. The Tropics and Sub-tropics are, roughly speaking, geographic locations close to the earths equator and between the tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere and the tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere. These regions are not necessarily tropical as such, for example deserts sit in this region. As a general rule, winter will be a drier season and summer would be the rainy season.
The places you want to avoid in winter are very high mountains and places with a very cold climate. The simple reason for this is that it will be significantly colder as you go higher up mountains. Therefore, if you think it's cold down near sea level, it will be Baltic the further you go up the mountain.
Now, it is obviously colder at the top of mountains regardless of the time of year, but in winter time it can be a hell of a lot nastier! What's tough and warrants caution in summer, can become potentially lethal and a no go in winter.
Similar to Winter, Springtime can be a time to visit a desert for hiking, more so earlier than later in the season when it's closer to summer. I was in the Sahara in mid spring once and it was a sight to behold. I've never seen an environment like it that really emanates ‘no mercy'! Forests and lower mountains are also ideal for hiking in springtime.
Again, avoid high mountains and places with a cold climate. It can still be very, very cold at high altitudes and not suitable for most hikers without special equipment, training, guidance, etc.
This is where the beauty of high mountains can be fully enjoyed. You can head out and enjoy all the beauty they have to offer but still be cautious and do your homework as high mountains can of course be very, very cold, even in Summer.
My trip to Mont Blanc was a good example of a very high mountain that should only be attempted to summit during summer. This is illustrated by the fact that there are normally only hiking trip holiday packages available over the summer months. I'm sure some extreme hardy folks may head up there in winter too, but it wouldn't be the norm.
Forests in colder climate areas are great to hike in, in summer. They should be fresh, cool and pleasant. Finally if you ever want to visit Arctic and Sub-Arctic regions, summer is the best time to do it, although it still won't be anywhere near warm!
At the top of the list of places to avoid in summer are deserts. They are even more punishing and unforgiving and not for the fainthearted or inexperienced. The Tropics and Sub-tropics are also not pleasant in summertime. They will be very, very wet, humid and muggy. The possibility of getting things like malaria and other nastys also goes up in summer in tropical areas. Hot lowlands should also be avoided in summertime too as the heat can build up and be very tough to hike in.
The best type of destination in autumn are temperate deciduous forests. Forests in Western Europe are a great example of this. They'll be a reasonable temperature to hike in but you will still need to wrap up.
As with winter, it's best to avoid high mountains in autumn with the winter creeping in day by day, the temperature can start to drop quite suddenly and winter like conditions can start to set in that bit earlier. However, some lower summits can of course still be enjoyed, just proceed with caution and always keep an eye on the weather forecast.
When planning a hiking trip away, checking the seasonal conditions in your chosen destination against your dates of travel is an absolute must It could save you a lot of time, pain, disappointment and money! Aside from that, it's easy to do.
As with all hiking trips, you should always plan ahead sensibly and if you're unsure ask around for advice. There's oodles of stuff online or you could join a hiking forum to ask more experienced folks who've been where you want to go for advice. Whenever and wherever you decide to go hiking, always be sure to have the right hiking gear for the environment you're hiking in, be that a good rain jacket or a sturdy pair of hiking boots.
Of course, there are places you should just have to avoid during certain times of the year as the weather is too tough! Happy hiking 🙂