Escape The Cold: Top 5 Winter Trails


Winter is not coming, it is already here. You rummage through old sweaters and heavy coats that have been tucked away since last spring. The air is piercing, the ground covered in sheets of snow. There is a frozen hand gripping the United States and you are shivering within its palm. But the grasp of winter cannot cover everything. Below are a few of the best (escape from) winter hikes around the U.S. for your guilty, beach-loving temptations.


Ke Ala Hele Makalae


Photo by TrailLink user slipsoup

It should come as no surprise that a Hawaiian trail made this list. The Ke Ala Hele Makalae trail, translated as, “The Path that Goes by the Coast,” is a multi-use path following the eastern shoreline from Nawiliwili to Anahola on the island of Kauai. For over 7 miles the cliffside trail offers breathtaking views of the Pacific’s blue water and strips of pristine beaches, like Paliku Beach (aka Donkey Beach) and Fuji Beach. The trail is perfect to meander after eating at one of the many top-rated eateries. Trail travels may encounter coconut groves, pineapple planation-era landmarks and even whales breaching during the Winter. Hawaii’s Garden Isle is a dream winter destination, perfect to escape freezing temperatures and enjoy the emerald green rainforests, lagoons within Lydgate Park and clear ocean views.


Los Angeles River Trail


Photo by TrailLink user vikemaze

The Los Angeles River Trail, otherwise known as the Lario Trail, is a 23.9-mile paved path that runs through an urbanized area of Los Angeles and ends at Long Beach. There, trail users will encounter charming beaches, marinas and an active dining and shopping area. Also in the area is an aquarium and the Shoreline Aquatic Park, which is home to a rocky shoreline, tall lighthouse tower and picnic tables that overlook the Long Beach Skyline. After relaxing and taking in the view, the end of the trail also offers the Catalina Express ferry that takes passengers to the Santa Catalina Island where they can find endemic species that occur naturally on the island. Traveling north from Long Beach, the Lario Trail parallels an adjacent river with several parks along the route. This pleasant path is ideal for a winter getaway.


Rickenbacker Trail


Photo by TrailLink user kahlikmr

Rickenbacker Trail is an 8.5-mile trail that begins in Southern Miami and continues south into Key Biscayne. A short walk over the Rickenbacker Causeway leads trail travelers here, an area complete with sunny beaches, resorts and two major parks. In the north is Crandon Park, which was once part of the largest coconut plantation in the U.S. and is now full of dunes, mangroves, seagrass and a variety of wildlife. The Crandon Beach offers 2 miles of sand and plenty of marine animals like sea turtles and parrotfish. In the south is Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, where trail users get a scenic, relaxing alternative to Miami’s popular beaches. The scenery here is just as delightful, with a historic lighthouse, native vegetation and plenty of areas to fish, bike, or snorkel. The Rickenbacker Trail offers a scenic route with opportunity to spend the day within a popular city, observe the wildlife in a tranquil state park or simply follow the asphalt path from island to island.


McQueen’s Island Trail


Photo by TrailLink user lovemyjeeps.jlp

Georgia is another great destination to get away from the cold. The 6-mile McQueen’s Island Trail is perfect for nature lovers who may see native wildlife from the trailhead on the eastern outskirts of Savannah onward, including American alligators, bobcats, ospreys and red-tailed hawks. The path is lined with cord grass, cabbage palms and coastal cedars, and small bridges will take you into saltwater marshes where dolphins can also be spotted in the river. The getaway can also be enjoyed by history buffs, who may get a glimpse of the past as the area was inhabited by some of the earliest Colonists. There were even Revolutionary and Civil war battles in the region. The Fort Pulaski National Monument, which was a Union Army colonial fort during the Civil War is situated close to the trail. Additionally, trail travels can wander a few more miles toward Tybee Island, a barrier island where sandy beaches, the Atlantic Ocean breeze and a popular pier await.


San Clemente Beach Trail


Photo by TrailLink user darwindallas

California is back at it again with another beautiful escape from the icy winter weather. Along one of the most picturesque shorelines in Southern California is the San Clemente Beach Trail, a 2.3-mile rail-with-trail in an area that has preserved its small-town identity. The sandy trail exhibits unique flora and impressive beach houses high above the cliff. Not too far along the path is the Pier Bowl trailhead, a beachfront area where trail travelers find restaurants, picnic areas and plenty of opportunities to ride some waves. The Orange County city is home to several other beaches, coastal trails, gardens and summits. There is a variety of parks and shopping opportunities for those who want to roam flea markets, farmers markets or local breweries and bike stores. More importantly, the warm weather is present during all times of the year and the coastline offers satisfying Pacific Ocean breezes that will make you forget snow even exists.

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