Summer time is the perfect time to hit the hiking trails strung throughout Colorado. Whether you head for a quick trot in Boulder or take a whole weekend and head to Rocky Mountain National Park to hit up a half a dozen trails or so, this time of year into the fall is the perfect time to see wildlife and soon, the changing of colors. When you head on these hikes you are more then likely to encounter a few other hikers along the way. As more and more people move to Colorado and visit during the summer and fall months, it is imperative that we remember we have a duty to our beautiful state to be “good” hikers. Now you might be thinking, what the heck makes you a “good” hiker? Well I am about to list out a few things you can do when you take your journey to keep nature clean and keep paths intact for future generations.
Safety first, always – When heading on a hike, you need to be responsible for yourself. That being said, you need to make sure to have the right gear and resources in case you come up again Mother Nature or something happens. You might not realize but many rescue crews who have to be flown in to help hikers are volunteers who risk their lives because a hiker didn’t come to the hike fully prepared and consequences ensued. So make sure before you go, you check the weather and bring the right supplies.
Leave no trace behind – This may seem like an obvious but some people think it is ok to use the hiking trail as their personal garbage can and that is a big no-no. The whole concept behind this is that if we keep the ecosystem healthy and in balance now, we will be able to maintain the public space for future generations. So here are some quick tips that go along with that idea:
· Leave what you find – as much as you might want to take souvenirs with you, leave whatever you find along the trip
· Look but don’t touch – might be more easy to say, just take pictures if you want to have the memory. Do not carve your initials on trees and rip out flowers from the ground.
· Whatever you bring with you must go back with you – wrappers, cigarette (blunt) butts, any cans and dog poop (dog owners take note here)
Be respectful to the wildlife – Again, this might seem like a very simple concept but for some reason people treat their hikes as a time to get up close and personal with the wildlife, and that is just not ok. The most popular trails will have animals on them so it is important to respect their living space and be cautious when animals do appear because many will get spooked and may charge or strike. Hiking is not a zoo and you as a hiker are trespassing on these animals home, so be courteous.
You aren’t the only hiker – Most likely you won’t be the only hiker on the trail, so be mindful of your voice and make sure to be civil to any other hikers you might meet along the way.
Before getting on your trail, know your trail – There is this great thing called Google these days that allows you to really explore the trail you are going to adventure on. Before you head out, make sure you actually know the trail, how hard it might be, how long it should take and any warnings or precautions.
We are lucky to have so many beautiful trails in this amazing state and I know I hope they are around long after I am gone but to be kept in good shape, we must be conscious hikers and mindful of how we treat the trails we take.