Colorado is a beautiful place to enjoy numerous hiking trails, including the 500-mile Colorado Trail. Heading out from your resort in Vail for a day on the trail is a great adventure, but keep safety in mind. The following are some tips that will ensure your trip goes smoothly.
Stretch Before Your Hike
Warming up before a hike with a few stretches is highly recommended. Hiking can be quite strenuous; climbing up steep inclines or scrambling up slopes can use muscles you don’t normally exercise. To avoid an injury that could leave you stranded or with a very sore body the next day, do warm-up stretches before leaving on your hike.
Start off your hike slowly, gradually increasing your speed as you go along. This will allow your muscles time to warm up.
What to Bring
What should you bring with you when hiking in Colorado? Enough water for all the people in your group, especially on a warm summer day. Dehydration can be dangerous while hiking. Bring food and will give you lots of energy, such as protein bars, trail mix, dried fruit, sandwiches and other snacks.
You never know when the weather may change for the worse, so bring a warm fleece and a rainproof jacket as well as some sunscreen for when the sun’s out. It’s also a good idea to bring a small first-aid kit so you can patch up any bumps and scratches that may occur on the trail.
Always Know Your Route
When you are hiking in Colorado, you should always know the route you will be going. Stay on the marked trail and don’t try to venture off, as you not only risk damaging the sensitive high-alpine ecosystem but also risk getting lost. Let a friend know when you will be hiking and where you plan on going so they can call the authorities and let them know if you haven’t returned at the end of the day.
Rattlesnake, Bear, and Mountain Lion Safety
During the warm months in Colorado, rattlesnakes will come out of their dens. Be careful of these creatures when you are hiking. When you are walking across a log, loudly stomp on the log first to alert the snake so it will slither away. If you hear a snake rattling, stop immediately and freeze, and wait for the snake to leave. They rattle to warn you not to step on them, and prefer only to bite in self defense.
You also risk running into a black bear while you are in Colorado as they are quite common in this region. If you see a bear while you are out hiking stop, back away, change your route and go around the bear, giving it a wide berth. If the bear approaches you, wave your arms and shout loudly. Always carry bear pepper spray. You can use this as a last defense if the bear attacks.
Mountain lions also live in rural areas in Colorado — and they sometimes see humans as prey. Keep your children in the middle of the hiking group and don’t let them race ahead of the rest of the hikers. If you encounter a mountain lion, running won’t do you any good. Raise your arms, yell as loud as you can and throw rocks at it — you want to intimidate it rather than behave like prey.
Check the Weather Before You Go
The weather changes quickly in Colorado. You could easily find yourself caught in a thunderstorm or a blizzard. Always check the forecast before you head out.
Follow the Rules
There are rules regarding hiking in Colorado, and if you are in a designated Colorado Wilderness Area, you need to obtain a free wilderness use permit. You can register for one at the trailhead. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
About the Author: Marsha Clayton is a freelance writer and travel blogger. This post is brought to you in collaboration with Expedia.