You’re walking through the forest. As you approach the peak of a mountain you start to hear the rustle of leaves in the distance. A deer? Squirrel? No, 24  preteens and 4 chaperons. Nothing ruins your outdoor adventure like rush hour traffic, after all the joy of hiking is to get away from the things that stress us out on a daily basis. One of America’s finest national parks is plagued by overcrowding writes

As Yosemite is the preferred destination of three million visitors each year, many of whom do little more than drive around the roads of the main valley and stop to take photographs, this area has become quite congested, and some parts have become spoilt by badly-planned developments, overcrowding & commercialism.

Sleeping Giant in Winter

Where is everyone? Who cares?
© David Hartman

According to the National Park Service, in 2008 Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area averaged 630,000 monthly visitors during the peak months, June through August, compared to an average of 358,000 monthly visitors during the rest of the year.

The solution? Simple, go when others will not be there. Hiking during the “off-season”, after Halloween through early April (naturally the time period will change depending on your climate, region, etc.) will drastically reduce the amount of human interaction you have on your hike.

Afraid of hiking alone in the winter? Join a club or find a group hike online.  For those of you in the greater New Haven area the Sleeping Giant Park Association the club holds a hike almost monthly.

If you’re stuck inside click here to listen to the tranquil sound of a waterfall in Mt. Rainier National Park