How to Hike on Trails that Still Have Snow on Them

How to Hike on Trails that Still Have Snow on Them

The elevation of the Eastern Sierras makes for some of the best skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling in the world. If you like to hike though, all that snow can keep the trails closed throughout spring and even well into summer.

If you can’t wait until the snow melts to start hiking around Mammoth Lakes or anywhere else for that matter, then the ASO Mammoth team has the perfect guide for hiking on snowy trails below! Check it out and then visit ASO Mammoth for all the hiking and backpacking gear you need to enjoy Mammoth Lakes’ trails!

When to Use Crampons vs. When to Use Microspikes

Hiking through a place like the Eastern Sierra where elevation dips and soars can make it hard to know what type of conditions you’ll come across while hiking. For that reason, it’s important you know how to use all types of hiking gear.

For example, microspikes are best for walking across flat terrain with packed snow. They’re also lightweight and small enough to not mess with your stride while running or walking, which makes them a great choice for trail runners who think there’s a chance they run into snow. 

On the other hand, if you’re trekking up steep and icy terrain then crampons are the right choice for you. Crampons have much larger spikes than microspikes, and as a result dig into ice with each step. Although the extra traction that crampons provide is perfect for walking up icy trails, it also means that each step will require more effort.

Although you can’t predict when you’ll be walking over snow or ice while hiking in the spring and summer, if you know the terrain then you can bring the right gear with you to make sure your hike goes exactly as planned.

Know Your Hike and the Weather

You can’t completely predict how much snow or ice is on a trail until you’re on it, but you can prepare yourself by taking the time to figure how steep of a trail you can expect as well as what the weather will be like throughout the day.

If you know that you’ll be trekking up steep hiking trails and there’s a chance for snow and ice, then bring along a pair of crampons just to be safe.

The weather can also make a big difference on what type of gear you need and the condition of the trail. Just like with a ski slope in the spring, snow on trails settles into ice as the temperatures drop and then thaws into soft snow and slush if the temperatures rise during the day. If a trail gets direct sunlight early in the day, then you can expect it to thaw out sooner. If it doesn’t then there’s a chance that the trail will remain icy until temperatures rise high enough to thaw the ice on its own.

Know When to turn Around

No one likes having to turn around without reaching their destination or distance, but sometimes snow and ice on the trail make the decision for you.

Hiking through snow and ice in the mountains requires attention with every step even with the right gear. If you don’t have the right gear or experience to give each step that attention, then it’s time to turn around. After all, we all love how remote and steep the trails are in the Mammoth Lakes area but if you’re injured or require rescue then those slopes are extremely dangerous.