The WNY Winter Hiking Challenge Has Begun

Looking for some great activitivies this winter? Hit the trails with the members

By Catherine Miller

Winter blues got you down? Post-holiday pounds have you feeling sluggish? Now is the perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy exercising in the cold temperatures, which can help you lose weight, improve your mood and reap many other health benefits.

A great way to get motivated is by joining the WNY Winter Hiking Challenge.

Michael Radomski, founder of the challenge, began the event to promote hiking in the Western New York area and get people to take advantage of the beautiful Buffalo winters. An avid hiker and outdoorsman, Radomski wanted to bring hikers together and, as an added bonus, raise funds for conservation causes in the area.

“The WNY Winter Hiking Challenge has brought a lot of people together,” Radomski said. “Some people have begun to hike with family members, some have found new friends through the challenge.”

Members of the WNY Hiking Challenge, organized by the Outside Chronicles, explore the outdoors in Western New York. Photos courtesy of Outside Chronicles
Members of the WNY Hiking Challenge, organized by the Outside Chronicles, explore the outdoors in Western New York. Photos courtesy of Outside Chronicles

Now in its third season, hikers for this winter’s challenge can register online at “Outside Chronicles” and download the challenge materials. Hikers are then able to complete eight of the 16 pre-set trails before March 20, the first day of spring. The trails vary in length and difficulty levels to pique the interest of new winter walkers and avid trekkers alike. Each trail has a unique trail landmark and hikers take a photo of the landmark, or a selfie with it, when they reach that destination and then upload the photo as proof of that trail’s completion. Hikers who complete the eight-trail challenge will be awarded a patch and sticker to display on their gear and will of course, have bragging rights.

Exercising in cold weather is beneficial to your health. Your body raises your metabolic rate in the colder temps, which stays elevated even after you return indoors. Walking in the snow utilizes different muscle groups which aids in strengthening surrounding joints. In addition, you’ll experience improved cardiovascular performance and get a healthy dose of Vitamin D on those sunny winter days.

“We began the WNY Winter Hiking Challenge at the onset of the pandemic last year,” Radomski said. “And, many of our hikers mentioned that it helped with depression and anxiety, along with helping them with weight loss.”

Whatever your reason for hiking, there is natural beauty abounding just outside your door waiting for you to explore. The trails on the challenge will take you to the eternal flame at Chestnut Ridge and Holcomb Pond at Zoar Valley. Other trails will have you passing unique trees and ruins. If you want to travel farther from home and make a day of it, you can trek the Osgood Trail at Alleghany State Park or journey through Darien Lake State Park. Hiking in the snow can be tricky. You may want to use snowshoes or micro-spikes for traction. And, don’t forget to properly layer clothing. Once you are accustomed to dressing appropriately using cold-weather apparel, winter hiking becomes a walk in the park.

Registration can be completed at: The registration fee is used to cover the cost of the prizes and expenses. All proceeds for this winter’s hike will be donated to the Beaver Meadow Audubon Center.

There is no need to hunker down this winter with so many magical places to venture to. A perfect way to get motivated is the check out “Outside Chronicles” website and sign up for this winter’s WNY Winter Hiking Challenge. Then grab some family members and friends, pack the hot cocoa and get moving.