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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Hiking in Palos Forest Preserves in February 2010

Don’t let the snow and cold keep you from exercising outdoors. With the right gear and proper supplies, you can still hike and enjoy the great outdoors!  And the Chicago area forest preserves are open all winter to help keep you on track.

I’ve had the good fortune to get out a few times in the past month and hike in the Palos area forest preserves with my partner, Jay. We both have snow shoes and poles but it’s been too slushy for the snowshoes. So we hike it and use the polls for an even better cardio workout. Don’t get me wrong, the gym is still a great place to go in winter for cardio and strength training. But being outdoors gives your mind a chance to get away from televisions, loud music and…crowds.

Moss covered rocks peeping through the snow heralding Spring!

We hike in waterproof boots and wear warm down coats. But as the hike goes on, we end up taking off our gloves and peeling off a layer as our bodies warm up.  It’s important to bring snacks to keep our blood sugar up and water for hydration. Even though it’s been relatively milder temperatures, we still need fluid and energy for the ups and downs of the ravines we travel.

If you feel a need to “get away from it all” but don’t have the time or money to fly somewhere, try the forest preserves in winter and see if a few hours of hiking in the woods doesn’t make you feel like you did indeed, “get way.”

Palos Ravines, the trail to the left, a nearly frozen creek to the right

For a map of the hiking trails in Palos Forest Preserves Trail System, click here.

Great Hiking Gear for Winter Hikes

• Columbia Sportswear Woman’s Moonlight Mover pant click here.

• Yukon Charlies 3 Section Adjustable Hiking/Snowshoe Poles click here.
• Pacific Outdoors Optima 10-by-32 Snowshoes click here.

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