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New Trail Runner and Winter

Once I started working from home in March, I added trail running to my hiking regimen. I fell in love with it, but now that we're getting closer to winter, I need some advice on how one continues trail running in winter conditions. I live in Salt Lake City, UT and made Millcreek Canyon my gym--hiking/running Pipeline from Church Fork Trailhead to Mt. Aire Trailhead and hiking up/running down Grandeur Peak. Pipeline has little elevation gain and I can see myself continuing to use that trail when it snows, but I'm wondering if I can still run down Grandeur that is over 2600 ft. of elevation gain and stay safe. Microspikes or no? Are there trail running shoes or boots specific to winter conditions? Tips, tricks, and advice are appreciated from long time trail runners.

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Hey @thoughtwoman! So happy to see you have joined the community. Although I love living in Vermont, I have also loved my time in SLC and know there are lots of good trails out that way. Hope this upcoming winter treats you well out there! 

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Hi @thoughtwoman!

I actually prefer to run trails when they're snowy! I can't speak to the trails in SLC specifically, but when I'm running trails in the foothills in Denver, here's some of the things I use:

-Microspikes: Microspikes will fit over most trail running shoes--I run trails in the Brooks Cascadia 15 and the Altra Timp 2, and they worth with both pairs. Unlike snowshoes, they won't keep you out of the snow, so if the snow is deep enough to go over the tops of your feet, your feet will still eventually get wet unless you have waterproof trail running shoes and gaiters. I would recommend Microspikes anytime there could be ice or iced snow. However, the spikes will get pretty snowpacked if the snow is too deep.

-Thick socks: I like running in Smartwool PhD Run Cold Weather socks. The merino wool keeps my feet warm, and fills the volume in my shoe a little bit more, making me more stable with my Microspikes. In warm weather, I prefer my socks to be thin and tight because my feet get hot; that doesn't work as well for me in cold weather!

-Low running gaiters: I wear these REI On the Trail gaiters for every trail run in all-weather. However, I personally am not bothered by my feet getting wet and cold, and I typically don't trail run in snow for more than 2 hours. If you want your feet to stay dry, you would need to consider a waterproof trail running shoe with gaiters. 

Finally, it's so important in cold weather to keep hydrating! I'm especially bad about remembering to drink water when it's cold, but I try to carry my hydration pack even for short runs so I can remember to keep drinking!

Hope this helps!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@REI-PearlD Wow! Thanks for all of that good advice!


Hello @thoughtwoman!

First off, welcome both to the Conversations and TR community! I'm in total agreement with everything that's been posted so far. I only started Trail Running in Spring 2019, so this past year was my introduction to winter-mode! The best peace of advice that a more experienced friend gave me, which I would not have otherwise considered, was to pace myself the first few times. Not for stamina or warmth or hydration. Simply because sucking a great big breath of really cold air in the morning can be a shock to the system that can take some getting used to. It doesn't happen to everyone, but it certainly happened to me and I am glad that I was ready for it.

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.