Alberta Hikes Help You Beat the Winter Blues

Chionophobia is the fear of snow and frigophobia is the fear of the cold. There you have it. I just diagnosed myself using the Internet. I’m pretty sure I suffer from both conditions. I don’t like winter. If winter were like a tropical beach, we would be best friends. But we’re not even buddies. For many years I did my best to avoid all things winter. Whether it was trips to tropical destinations or running from one heated location to the next heated location, I was pretty good at avoiding Old Man Winter. Somewhere along the line, it was suggested that if I learned to embrace winter with some Alberta hikes and outdoor activities, I might discover some of the benefits of the season we call winter. Read on to discover some of the benefits of getting out and attempting to embrace our longest season of the year.

Related: Check out our post about hiking Grotto Canyon in winter.

An image of a person sitting in a snowy field in Jasper National Park in Alberta - Alberta Hikes help you beat the winter blues
Going outdoors is the secret to good mental and physical health. Photo by GREG OLSEN

Health Benefits of Alberta Hikes and Outdoor Activities

Many people suffer from a condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). People suffering with SAD feel a lack of energy and feelings of moodiness. It often begins in late fall and continues through the winter months. One of the treatments of SAD is phototherapy: sitting in front of a special light the mimics the sun. I have to admit that when I venture out on Alberta hikes and outdoor activities in the winter months I feel energized afterwards. I may complain a little, maybe even a lot, but I always feel better afterwards. This is likely due to the positive effects of natural sunlight.

An image of a dad and daughter outside on a cold and snowy day at Pyramid Lake in Jasper, Alberta - Avoid the Winter Blues
A dad and daughter enjoy being outside on a snowy day. Photo by GREG OLSEN

Being outside in winter can help you burn calories. You can sleep better, and it can help you fight infections and improve allergies. It may even improve brain function to name just a few other reasons to venture out into the winter air.

Ice Ice Baby

An image of the Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada - Alberta hikes help you beat the winter blues
The Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park are particularly beautiful in winter.

Water is beautiful in the liquid state but water is also beautiful in its solid state. When you see a waterfall that is frozen the colors can be beyond description. No photograph can truly do justice to a frozen waterfall.

Image of an ice waterfall in Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park in Alberta - Avoid the Winter Blues
One of the ice falls in Johnston Canyon. Photo by Greg Olsen

Some of the best Alberta hikes lead to frozen waterfalls. Not only are frozen falls beautiful but they change everyday. Chunks of ice break away and new shards of ice form as the temperatures change from cold to colder.

Image of an ice floe on the side of a mountain along Icefields Parkway with an ice climber scaling the ice.
Large ice floes on the sides of mountains or canyon walls are beautiful. Photo by Greg Olsen

You don’t have to find a river to find a waterfall. Ice flows coming out of the side of mountains are amazing and if you are really ambitious, you can attempt to climb these sheets of ice. This activity should only be attempted with proper training and equipment. If you look carefully at the image above, you can find an ice climber scaling this ice falls.

Great Opportunity to be Social

Image of a couple taking a selfie of themselves in Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park - Avoid the Winter Blues.
Getting outside with someone you care about makes winter more bearable. Photo by Greg Olsen

Winter often makes people be a little less social. Alberta hikes with good friends help you connect on a personal level. It also gives you great content to post to your favorite social media account.

Image of a couple standing arm in arm over looking the ink pots in Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park - Avoid the Winter Blues.
The Ink Pots hike in Banff National Park is one of the best Alberta hikes in winter. Photo by Debbie Olsen

Being outside on a cold day also provides a great opportunity to cuddle up to a significant other.

Image of a group of people doing an ice walk in the bottom of Maligne Canyon in Jasper National Park - Avoid the Winter Blues.
An ice walk with a group of people is a great way to spend an afternoon. Photo by Greg Olsen

Guided Alberta hikes or even better yet, a canyon ice walk can help you see a canyon in a completely new light. In the summer we view Maligne Canyon from above but in the winter you can see and experience it from the floor of the canyon. It gives you a completely different perspective.

Other Winter Activities

Image of a man driving a team of horses pulling a sleigh at Pyramid Lake in Jasper National Park - Avoid the Winter Blues
A horse drawn sleigh ride is a great way to spend some time outdoors in the winter. Photo by Greg Olsen

If you are like me, a sleigh ride is a great way to get the benefits of being outdoors without feeling the full effects of the cold. With my winter gear on and a warm blanket to snuggle under, I almost feel invincible.

Image of people skating on Pyramid Lake in Jasper National Park - Avoid the Winter Blues.
Ice skating is a great winter activity to participate in. Photo by Debbie Olsen

Skating allows you to glide effortlessly along the ice. It is great exercise and also allows for fresh winter air to full your lungs.

Image of a person cross country skiing at Shark Mountain in Kananaskis Country - Avoid the Winter Blues.
Cross country skiing is a fun and refreshing way of enjoying winter. Photo by Greg Olsen

Skiing, whether cross-country or down hill is another great way to get exercise. Gliding through the snow is a wonderful feeling. For those seeking an adrenaline rush, you are sure to experience it with skis attached to your feet.

Image of a person hiking in snow shoes in Kananaskis Country - Avoid the Winter Blues.
A leisurely snow shoe hike helps keep you warm and provides great exercise. Photo by Greg Olsen

A leisurely walk with a pair of snow shoes and your camera can provide some physical activity while capturing the beauty of a snowy landscape.

Unique Winter Activities

Image of a person riding a bike with large wheels in  the winter in Kananaskis Country - Avoid the Winter Blues
A fat bike is a fun and unique way to enjoy the great outdoors in winter. Photo by Greg Olsen

When I was a young boy, I knew better than to ride my bike in the winter, but then again, we did not have fat bikes in the olden days. A fat bike is like the SUV of the automotive industry. They are made for winter conditions and I actually felt like a 57 year old rebel as I mounted my fat bike for a ride in the mountains.

Image of a person standing on frozen Abraham Lake with methane bubbles trapped in the ice and a mountain in the background - Avoid the Winter Blues.
Visiting Abraham Lake west of Nordegg is a great place to see ice bubbles. Photo by Greg Olsen

A really unique winter activity is to enjoy the beauty of the methane bubbles trapped in the ice of Abraham Lake. As bacteria in the bottom of the lake decompose matter, they release methane which rises and gets trapped in the ice. Be sure to be safe when walking on ice and you will enjoy one of Mother Nature’s truly amazing sights and one of winter’s best Alberta hikes.

Image of a snowy frosty morning at Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park - Avoid the Winter Blues.
Maligne Lake in Jasper is beautiful at anytime of the year. Photo by Greg Olsen

If you are fortunate, you might see winter sights before the water freezes. The first heavy snow and frost at Maligne Lake in Jasper is a great way to experience winter and to capture some beautiful pictures as well.

Image of a women sitting in a chair on a deck in the mountains - Avoid the Winter Blues.
Even sitting on the deck can be a great way to experience winter. Photo by Greg Olsen

After enjoying Alberta hikes and outdoor activities, you can sit back and relax in a comfortable chair with a great view. Breathing in some cool clean winter air can also help you avoid the winter blues. I have found that embracing Old Man Winter has made him more of a friend and less of a foe. Maybe you will find the same!

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