Register for upcoming trips on our Trips and Events Calendar webpage

Our winter hiking skills day trips are focused on getting you outside in the winter and teaching you some new skills. We will teach you how to dress and prepare for a winter trip, especially what kind of clothing, shoes, and hats are needed and how to use them effectively, as well as other safety gear to have with you. We will generally bring snow shoes and micro-spikes with us, and we may even use them when we don't totally need them, just so you get a chance to try it out. Snowshoes are a large wide platform that attaches to your boots and allows you to "float" on top of the snow instead of post-holing down into deep snow with your leg. They are especially useful in fresh powder or trails that haven't been walked on in a while. Microspikes are a traction device consisting of a chain of strategically-placed small spikes that fit directly on to the bottom of your boots and are extremely helpful in icy conditions, which often happens when it has warmed up recently, snow has melted and flowed down the trail, and then refroze. No skills are needed to join us on a winter hiking skills day trip!

Click on the links below to jump on the page:

Group of happy hikers at the summit of the Mount Major on the Belknap Range in the wintertime.

locationsBelknap Range

The Belknap Mountain Range is a prominent range south and west of Lake Winnipesaukee in the towns of Gilford, Gilmanton, and Alton, N.H. Numerous scattered ledges on all the peaks provide fine views of Lake Winnipesaukee, the Ossipee and Sandwich ranges, and Mt. Washington. Lower summit elevations and moderate terrain make this a perfect range to practice winter hiking skills.

Get more information on the Belknap Range Trails website.

Average Physical Exertion (descriptions below): Moderate.

A person in snowshoes walks down the trail with the group ahead of her in snow-covered forest Image by Andrew Chapman

locationsCardigan Mountain

Cardigan Mountain rises to 3,121-foot and has a beautiful treeless granite summit. On clear days, you can see views of west central New Hampshire, including Mount Monadnock and the White Mountains, and even as far as Camel's Hump in Vermont, and Pleasant Mountain in Maine. Cardigan provides a great trail to practice winter hiking skills.

Average Physical Exertion (descriptions below): Moderate.

A group of 9 people smile at the top of an overlook with mountains and a pond beyond

Mt. Kearsarge

Mt. Kearsarge near Wilmot, NH is a great 2,937 foot accessible mountain in winter or summer. In winter, the hike starts with the unplowed access road to the state park's picnic area, then gradually climbs steeper. "Mt. Kearsarge via the Winslow Trail is the perfect beginner trek for those new to winter hiking. It’s the right combination of short and sweet with a few strenuous steep sections mixed in to test those snow legs and acclimate to winter traction. The open summit offers outstanding views with the opportunity to experience harsh winter winds without prolonged exposure" ( The Barlow Trail provides a loop trail for a varied experience.

Average Physical Exertion (descriptions below): Moderate.

Group of hikers standing atop Mount Moosilauke’s summit near an iced over marker sign with a snow covered mountain side in the background.

Mt. Moosilauke

Mt. Moosilauke has been climbed by locals for nearly 300 years. The mountain has a long history of use as a hiking destination, source of timber, and winter playground. The summit is bare and has wonderful 360 degree views of the rest of the White Mountains, Vermont, and even into the Adirondacks on a good day. The weather during the spring can vary widely and include full winter conditions. It may feel like spring but prepare for winter on the mountain!

Average Physical Exertion (descriptions below): Vigorous.

Three male-presenting students with arms spread like they were flying on top of the windy summit of Mount Monadnock.

Mt. Monadnock

Mount Monadnock at 3160 ft. is one of the most frequently climbed mountains in the world! This is an opportunity to get a new winter perspective on a classic day hike. It features a full range of New England mountain ecosystems and terrain as well as amazing views of the White Mountains in NH, the Green Mountains in VT and the Connecticut River valley. Lower summit elevation and moderate terrain make this a perfect range to practice winter hiking skills. Leaders will review winter hiking safety, equipment, group travel and leave no trace. This is a northeast must do!

Get more information on the Mt. Monadnock website.

Average Physical Exertion (descriptions below): Moderate.

Ski trail with tracks in wooded forest. Image by

Downes Brook and Oliverian Brook Trails

The Downes Brook and Oliverian Brook Trails are perfect for gentle winter hiking or cross country skiing. This hike off the Kancamagus Highway is generally flat or rolling hills, and provides two loops to choose from. There is a picturesque wetland in the middle, perfect for appreciating winter's beauty, and maybe even spotting beavers or their lodges. This trail will not take us to a peak but instead will allow us to enjoy the beauty of calm woods in the winter. This trail allows us to explore some of the smaller more unnoticed aspects, like the sparkle of the freshly-fallen snow in the sun, or the interesting plant or animal species that can be found in the wetland or the forest. There are a couple short steep sections; generally the trail is otherwise not physically challenging. Depending on conditions, we plan to use snowshoes for this hike.

Average Physical Exertion (descriptions below): Light.

Single hiker with backpacking pack looking off into the distance on Mount Cannon.

Mt. Cannon

"The Kinsman Ridge Trail accesses the summit of Cannon Mountain, the Kinsmans, and many lesser peaks. A trip to Cannon’s summit is 2.2 miles from the parking area and provides spectacular views of Franconia Notch. Hikers may also try the Hi-Cannon Trail, which provides views of Lonesome Lake along the way," (AMC).

Average Physical Exertion (descriptions below): Vigorous.

skillSkill Level

All of our winter hiking skills trips are fit for beginners; no previous hiking or winter experience is required. However, for trips rated Vigorous, we recommend that you have either some experience or good fitness, as well as a good attitude ready to learn about winter! 

On most of our Winter Hiking Skills trips, we will bring snowshoes, in case conditions require them. Snowshoeing on already-packed trails is similar to normal walking, with a slightly wider step, depending on conditions. Snowshoeing through deeper snow can be more tiring and require lifting legs higher with each step; the group will trade off the front person.

Tentative Itinerary

Due to the nature of outdoor trips and uncontrollable variables such as weather, all itineraries are subject to change.

  • 8 a.m. - meet at the Outdoor Adventure Center / Bike Shop
    • 5 Lawrence Drive, Lowell, MA 01854
  • 8-8:10 a.m. - Prepare for activity
    • Check in, use restrooms, fill water bottles, apply sunscreen, change into synthetic layers, etc.
  • 8:10-8:30 a.m. - Day overview & introductions
    • Introductions, intro. game, equipment selection, itinerary review, etc.
  • 8:30-10 a.m. - Drive to trip location
    • Socialize with other participants; possible meal/snack stop - bring a method of payment with you.
  • 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Instruction & Hiking
    • Hike; eat lunch along the trail – bring your own lunch
  • 5-7 p.m. - drive back to UMass Lowell
    • 5 Lawrence Drive, Lowell, MA 01854
  • 7-7:30 p.m. - Debrief
    • Arrive back at the at the Outdoor Adventure Center/Bike Shop, clean up, review course content/answer any remaining question, etc.
  • 7 p.m. - Latest dismissal
    • This should be determined based off of participants needs and the intended goals of this trip- contact the program to adjust this time.
A smiling group of people wearing snow-shoes and winter clothes in the snow with trees and a blue sky behind them.

Possible Curriculum Topics

  • Leave No Trace
  • Safety
  • Layering
  • Keeping Warm
  • Navigation
  • Winter Hiking Equipment Selection and Use

packing-listPacking List

The items on this list are strongly recommended for your trip. The weather forecast and your thermal perception should be considered when packing.

  • Outdoor Adventure online waiver
  • Personal Medications
  • Medical Insurance Card
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick/Lip Balm Sun protection
  • Sunglasses or Goggles Sun and Wind protection
  • Bandana Versatile: sweat rag, hankie, napkin, etc.
  • Lunch/Snacks Cold lunch
  • Method of Payment For snacks/meals on the road
  • Gloves and/or Mittens Recommend both if you have them, one lighter, one heavier, especially if you have hands that chill easily
  • Thick Wool Socks: Keeps your feet warm when your body is prioritizing warming your core; an extra pair is advised; mid-weight or mountaineering socks
  • Snow Boots or Hiking Boots: these should keep your feet comfortable, warm, and dry; waterproof, insulated recommended; break them in prior to the trip
  • Balaclava, Buff, Face Mask, or Scarf: Warms oxygen entering the body and protects the face and neck from the cold air
  • *Wool or Fleece Hat
  • *Headlamp smart safety addition
  • *2 Water Bottles: Hydration; start hydrating the day before
  • Base layer (Top and Bottom) Underwear layer; wicks sweat off your skin; typically this is synthetic and long sleeves; no cotton (t-shirts will collect your sweat and feel cold and heavy)
  • *Middle layer Insulating layer; retains body heat to protect you from the cold; fleece and or flannel recommended; sweatshirts are okay if it's all you have
  • *Outer layer Shell Layer; shields you from wind and rain; your winter coat - one that is easy to do a lot of physical activity in. (Anything that is not down or down-alternative will be good. Down will feel very humid and sticky when being active.) More layers are better than one big fat layer, if you have several lighter weight options, that is best.
  • *Extra outer layer Useful for when stopped on trail or mountaintop; down or down-alternative is ideal for this purpose, or a large fleece, and large enough so it is easy to add on, and easy to remove when moving again
  • *Backpack to carry your extra layers, water and snacks
  • Extra dry socks and shoes Recommend having a dry pair of shoes and socks for the drive there and back, so you can start and end with dry and happy feet
  • **Activity Specific Gear Snowshoes, Micro-spikes, Gaiters, Hiking poles, some extra layers upon request.

*All items under "Activity Specific Gear" are supplied automatically by the Outdoor Adventure Program. These items are included in the cost of the trip. All personal participant equipment is subject to trip leader approval. Contact us to review any personal gear you would like to bring in substitution of the gear we may provide.

Register for upcoming trips on our Trips and Events Calendar webpage

physical-exertionPhysical Exertion Levels


  • Prerequisites: No previous experience required.
  • Activity Time:1-3 hours
  • Distance: 2-3 mi. | 3-5 km.
  • Elevation Change: 0-300 ft. | 0-90 m.
  • Weight Carried: 0-3 lbs. | 0-1 kg.
  • Conditions: Flat, groomed, snow covered trails, with gradual hills and turns. Temperature limit with windchill: 5 F | -15 C.


  • Prerequisites: No previous experience required. Good physical fitness is recommended. May require specialized clothing.
  • Activity Time: 2-5 hours
  • Distance: 3-7 mi. | 5-11 km.
  • Elevation Change: 300-1000 ft. | 90-300 m.
  • Weight Carried: 3-5 lbs. | 1-2 kg.
  • Conditions: Trails may include heavy snow, ice, steep hills. Micro spikes, crampons or snow shoes may be needed. Temperature limit with windchill: 5 F | -15 C.


  • Prerequisites: Previous experience and good physical fitness is highly recommended. May require specialized clothing.
  • Activity Time: 5-8 hours
  • Distance: 7+ mi. | 11+ km.
  • Elevation Change: 1000 ft. | 300+ m.
  • Weight Carried: 5-7 lbs. | 2-3 kg.
  • Conditions: Trails may include heavy snow, ice, drastic inclines, steep downhills, scrambling and potentially significant obstacles. Micro spikes, crampons or snow shoes will be needed. Temperature limit with windchill: 5 F | -15 C.


Phone: 978-934-1549