rainy boardwalk

Wet weather hiking

So, you’ve planned your trip and thought of everything.

Your boots are sitting at the door and your backpack is full of water, snacks, route maps, extra clothes, and your trusty first aid kit.

Your favourite park awaits!

You slip into your boots, open the door, and… pouring rain.

Wet weather doesn’t need to stop your day of hiking, but it does take a little more planning and some extra thought.

wet boardwalk

While you’ll still need all those excellent items in your backpack, there are some additional pieces of equipment that might help you out.

Here are some tips in how to enjoy your fantastic day of hiking — even when it’s raining:

Stay safe

staff in rain gear

Always remember that your safety is the most important part of any outdoor adventure.

Check the weather before heading out.

If there are weather warnings like strong winds, floods, or thunder and lightning, today is not the day for hiking.

Wear sturdy, waterproof hiking boots or shoes.

Many trails have exposed roots, rocks, and boardwalks that can get slippery when wet.

Always bring a first aid kit and a way to contact help if needed. Remember, listen to your body — if it is telling you that you need a rest, take a rest.

Dress for success

It won’t take long for you spirits to dampen in cold wet weather without the right protection for your body.

Make sure that your body is warm, your skin can breathe, and you stay dry.

family wearing jackets

Start with your base layer, this is the layer you wear closest to your skin. It should be synthetics or wool — NO cotton! Cotton will stay wet and cold from the elements or your own sweat.

Wool and synthetics are meant to quick-dry and produce a “warm-wet” while damp. For fall hiking, long-johns and a long-sleeved top layer would be excellent additions.

boots in water

Socks are super important for hiking. Choose wool or synthetic again, and always bring an extra pair.

Your mid layer should reflect the season. For fall or spring weather, you’ll want a medium weight fleece.

For your top layer, quality rain gear is super important. Try to wear gear that is both waterproof and breathable, that way you’ll stay dry from the outside, and your jacket doesn’t trap sweat on the inside.

Choose good sturdy hiking boots or shoes that will suit the type of trail you are heading out on.

Consider bringing gloves and a toque – it might not be winter yet, but if you start to get cold, these items can really save a hike!

Timing is everything

You may have planned a hike for a sunny day, but as the weather changed, so should your plans.

trail

A wet, slippery trail will take longer than a dry one, perhaps decide on a less challenging route for rainy weather.

Don’t be a stickler for a certain destination. It’s important to adapt to conditions while you are out on the trail and be ok with where you get to. You’re outside and exercising – you’ve already accomplished a lot!

children walking on trail

Give yourself extra time for gearing up, and the return journey, and if you’re with kids, take lots of extra time to let them jump in puddles – and jump in a few puddles with them!

Treats on the trail

When you are hiking in cold, rainy weather, your body will consume more calories and need more support than if the weather was warm and dry.

Remember to always pack lots of water and high-calorie snacks. Treat yourself! Trail mix and granola bars with whole nuts, seeds, and dried fruit are an excellent option.

Stay on track

All of these tips cover you out on the trail — but what about the trail itself?

Whatever weather you are hiking in, please keep in mind that Ontario Parks are protected spaces!

person hiking with dog

Each ecosystem you hike through is a sensitive habitat, and the home of a variety of plants and animals.

Stay on the trails. Wandering off trails can cause damage to plants and animals. This damage can result in further erosion of the soil, especially in wet weather.

Pack in what you pack out! Any garbage you create while on the trail should remain with you so you can dispose of it properly at the end of the trail.

Never take anything from the trail. A picked flower can’t reproduce and a taken stone can’t add nutrients to the soil.

Everything in nature serves a purpose, and it needs to stay where it is to fulfil that purpose!

Make sure you always wash your clothes and wipe your footwear between hikes – this will reduce the spread of invasive species!

wet leaf

We love that you’re challenging yourself to hike in rainy weather, our parks are beautiful no matter what the season.

Whether you’re reading this because you’re new to hiking in the rainy seasons, or because you are a seasoned hiker looking for some extra tips — get out there and get wet while staying warm and dry!

Let’s get hiking!