Tips for Hiking in Colorado

Trail etiquette and useful information

Make sure to pack out what is brought in while hiking.
Photo: Trevor Leach • The Sentry 

Colorado has some of the most impressive areas in the country for enjoying the outdoors, but with the arrival of summer also comes the need to remind people how to venture into the wild responsibly. Phone apps like AllTrails can provide great locations for hiking and other activities, although newcomers might appreciate more information. From handling the weather to avoiding crowds, hopefully the tips below will be helpful. 

Check the website 

Most natural areas in Colorado will have a website connected with local, state, or national organizations like the Bureau of Land Management. Before driving out, it’s always wise to check online to make sure the park is open and the roads accessible. Usually the website will have detailed information about activities, trails, campsites, and more. It’s important to consider the regulations for each place. Some parks stress the importance of staying on trail, other open spaces allow for more exploration; and some allow people to bring their dogs or horses, while others have a ranger check hiker’s vehicles before parking.  

 Brings water and snacks 

Always bring more water than needed. Colorado is known for extremely dry conditions—a reason why many places even ban campfires. Carrying extra water prevents the possibility of dehydration and can be useful in case of an unexpected event. Hiking and other activities like biking expend a tremendous amount of energy, especially in a mountainous landscape, so having snacks on hand is critical. With the high altitude and challenging terrain, remember to stop every so often for a sip of water or a bite to eat. 

Don’t bother wildlife 

Show respect for the environment by leaving animals and plants alone. Bears, pumas, and coyotes all live in the mountains and foothills around Denver. Even wolves have begun to make a comeback in recent years, and the state plans to reintroduce more soon. Always be on guard and remember that each of them requires different approaches in the event of an unwelcome interaction.  

Right of way 

Social distancing remains important on the trail, but some of the passages can get narrow and precarious. If another person is coming the opposite way or coming up from behind at a faster pace, kindly step to the side of the trail (if safe) to allow them to pass. Parks closer to the city tend to be more crowded than those higher in the mountains, and some popular areas fill up with people by the afternoon. 

Leave no trace 

A common saying often posted at different parks dictates “take only pictures, leave only footprints.” Always take out trash from the wilderness and remember to clean up after dogs. So many people litter trails with plastic bags of poo, leaving them to rot (more like mummify in the dry climate) for years. It can even be nice to carry a trash bag and pick up after other people. Preserving and caring for the environment not only shows respect for the wild and other people, it also helps to heal the planet humanity calls home. 

This is a selection from the May 5 issue. To view the full issue, visit:

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