I love hiking to waterfalls in the winter, but a lot of the trails get icy. Is it necessary to use crampons while hiking during the winter in the Southern Appalachians?
We lead winter hikes into Swallow Falls State Park quite a bit during the winter. That park has three major waterfalls, including Maryland’s tallest, and the trails can become thick sheets of ice during the winter. For that sort of terrain, we do recommend crampons, but you don’t need anything too burly. We prefer simple nylon crampons that you can slip on and off easily but still have metal edges that dig into the ice providing purchase. Also, using trekking poles in icy conditions helps tremendously too.
–Carol Calhoun, co-owner of All Earth Eco Tours, which leads snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and hiking excursions throughout the winter in Deep Creek Lake, Md.