Saturday, August 27, 2011

5 Reasons to Love Day Hiking in the Rain - Guest Blogger Post

By Grant Ritter, Author of New England Outside

Rain typically persuades most people to cancel outdoor plans in favor of movie marathons, house cleaning or some other indoor activity; it doesn’t have to be this way. Hiking in the rain can be a lot of fun. I know you don’t believe me yet but you will find 5 reasons below that might change your mind. Before I go on I must stress what kind of rain I am talking about. Obviously if the weather is unsafe you should not venture out and all rain hiking should stay well below tree line. Also hike with a buddy or let someone know where you are going. 

Reason 1: Hike the path less hiked:

Rainy days are a great reason to explore a local trail or something that you typically bypass on your way to the more epic ascents in the Whites. This way you expand your hiking knowledge and can keep the sunny days free for the epic climbs.

Reason 2: Test your rain gear:

Rain gear is expensive and it spends most of its life in the bottom of your pack. A rainy hike below tree line gives you a low risk opportunity to see what your rain gear is capable of. This is great knowledge to have when you break out the rain gear in an above tree line or backcountry situation.

Reason 3: A fresh perspective on your favorite trail:

If you are like me then you have a few favorite trails that you have hiked countless times; typically during favorable weather. Rain can give you a fresh experience on these routes with decreased visibility, the pitter patter of rain drops, and fog in the trees. It might not sound like fun but it feels like getting to know an old friend in a new way.

Reason 4: Have the trail to yourself:

Few people hike in the rain; it is a plain and simple fact. Even a light drizzle will clear the most popular trails. This means you can hike some choice locations in virtual solitude. This can be a great thing if you hike to get away from it all.

Reason 5: A wet day outside beats a dry day inside:

What is more fun, hiking outside in the rain or being inside wishing you were hiking? This is not a trick question. I always prefer to be hiking even if conditions are a little damp.

So are you convinced that hiking in the rain can be fun? Rain gives us a chance to hike new trails, get to know old ones, test gear and just have fun. Head for the trail the next time rain is forecast if you have an open mind and a desire to have fun.

I want to extend a very special thanks to Grant for writing this great guest post for LFAHNH. He's certainly given me a different perspective of hiking in the rain. Grant hikes all of over New England and also takes part in many other outdoor sports in New England. He will soon be finishing up his NH48, 4K-footers, with his last peak being Owl's Head, the peakbagger's nemesis! Please drop by Grant's blog, New England Outside or his Facebook page. Please note that the contents of this post (text and pictures) are property of Grant and are protected under my copyright. - Karl



  1. Thanks Karl! I was honored to supply some guest content for your blog!

  2. My experience thus far has been limited to unintended treks in rainy conditions. However, judging from those experiences I can say that some very good points are made here for a deliberate hike in the rain. And, if you're a trail-maintainer, as I am, there's yet another benefit to walking in the rain. It provides you with the opportunity to observe the performance (or lack thereof) of your water bars, and other drainage devices along your trail.


  3. Reason two is a big one for me. Going out on a longer backpacking trip with untested rain gear isn't always the best idea. And coming back home to a warm, dry, relaxing evening after a rainy hike can't be beat. The hardest part is getting over the mental hurdle of getting outside in the first place. Once you're out there, it's a great time.

  4. Grant - Thanks for writing a post for my blog. It's great and has got a lot of great feedback!

  5. John - That's a good point, checking the water bars and how they are working. I'm looking at the rain outside from Irene right now, and I'm sure a lot of those runoffs look like raging rivers right now!

    Ryan - You're right, getting out is the tough part...but once you are, it's hard not to enjoy it!

  6. I liked this, a good motivator for autumn (and generally rainy) hiking!

  7. It's an eye opener to intentionally make an AT day hike on a drizzly day. The colors are so different and next to no one out there. Once is all it takes to convince.

  8. Hiking in the rain is one of my favorites. Its a whole different experience and its come to the point when I get excited when I'm walking for miles with wet feet. Everything changes in the rain from the sounds, smells, colors and even the terrain. Love it when the trail turns to a small creek.

  9. Great post! Yes, we should do some more *safe* hiking in the rain. Most of my experiences in the rain have not been under better circumstances, but I do know my rain gear works and it always provided a good story for the folks back home.

  10. That is an excellent post. Hiking in the rain definitely gives a fresh perspective on the trail. When Robin and I hiked up to Mt. LeConte last year, we did the same trail there and back. On the way up the weather couldn't have been better. The next day though the weather was rainy all the way to the bottom. It was almost like we were on a totally different trail.

  11. Hendrik - I agree, Grant did a great job motivating me for trying to hike in light rain/drizzle. Thanks for listing this post in your weekly review. It has driven a lot of traffic.

    Keith - I'm sure you're right. I've done the Jackson/Webster Trail in both rain and shine...the scenery is much different...

    Patrick - I'm not sure I like the idea of hiking with wet feet :) If I hike in the rain, I hope my hiking boots stay waterproof! Good point about the different smells. I never thought about the different smells in the woods.

    Summerset - Same here. Most all the rain hiking I have done is in torrential downpours and the emergency rain gear/ponchos had to come out. Not the best circumstances, but we know we handle it!!!

    Tim - That's probably the best way to make this comparison too! Hike on back-to-back days. That probably gives you the best comparison, because you remember everything so vividly from the day before!

    Thanks again, Grant, for writing such a great post!


  12. I love hiking in the Rain. I hate going to bed wet. But I guess there has to be a give and take. Some of my favorite hiking memories are of rainy trails. It always seems to add adventure to a hike.

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