Colorado Travel Planning Guides : Colorado Summer Vacation Planner : A Hikers Paradise

The possiblities for hiking on your Colorado vacation are endless. From short hikes out your backdoor to extended hiking trips on the Colorado Trail which reaches from Wyoming to New Mexico, you'll find breathtaking vistas & surprises around every
curve in the trail. Or, maybe you're after one of Colorado's 55 famous & challenging fourteeners.

Colorado offers many guidebooks covering different areas of the state & all types of trails. You can visit recreation areas, State Parks & National Parks which will all offer a variety of terrain & trails for hiking.
And if the altitude doesn't do it, the scenery is sure to take your breath away. Here we offer you a few guidelines for getting started.

We invite you to explore the trails, valleys, mountains, aspens & far untouched corners of Colorado...

Following is a list of things you'll want to keep in mind for your hiking trip. Not being prepared for what you may encounter on a trip is one of the worst things you can do. These guidelines should help make your hiking experience even more enjoyable. What you need will depend upon what type of hiking trip you are
embarking. Here we will focus on the simple day trip for the average visitor to Colorado. (*For gear or help planning overnights or extended trips you may want to visit a local outfitter.)

Getting started: Figuring out where to go hiking is often the hardest part about going hiking if you're not familiar with the area you are staying... How do you locate an appropriate trail for you or your family? Where will you find information or maps? Or for the novice, what should you bring along?

Guidebook / Maps: Maps and guidebooks are not always necessary depending upon where you are headed. You will need to first located the trailhead and how to get there. Local guidebooks will have driving directions, distance, estimated hiking times, and can often offer local history of the trail and area as well as helpful tips specific to the trail.

Guidebooks can really help you locate a trial that is appropriate for you, or if you have a specific type of trail in mind: wildflower hikes, off the beaten path, above treeline, waterfalls and lakes, history, wildlife viewing... They let you know what you'll encounter along the way so you can be prepared.

Guidebooks and maps can be picked up at a local bookstore or outfitter. The place where you are staying may also have suggestions on a nice, closeby trail to hike and will be able to tell you how to get to the trailhead.

Timeframe: After you have decided on a trail and figured out about how long it may take you, the next thing to do is figure out when you should begin hiking. If you are headed out on a short hike of only a mile or
so, you probably wouldn't need to allow more than one and a half hours for a nice leisurely pace. You can fit this into your day anytime it will work best for you, assuming the weather is nice.

You will need to do a little more planning if you are embarking on a longer day trip of five or six miles, which could take you up to eight hours depending on the difficulty. You will want to get an early start to allow for unexpected circumstances and also because summers in Colorado regularly bring afternoon thunderstorms. (See 'Quick Hiking Tips...' below.)

Clothing: You'll want to dress accordingly for the weather. Wear comfortable clothes, preferably not cotton as it does not dry quickly. The weather in Colorado can change pretty quickly so it is always a
good idea to bring a few items of warmer clothing such as a jacket, hat and even light rain jacket. A hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are very important to protect yourself against the intense sun. In many places you will be two miles closer to the sun here in Colorado than you are at sea level!

Gear: For day trips you shouldn't need much in the way of gear. Footwear will depend upon the trail and weather. A good pair of sneakers will usually suffice. Sport sandals can be worn on easier hikes in warm weather and for harder hikes you may want a sturdy pair of hiking boots. A fanny pack or small backpack is good to pack your extra clothing, guidebook, water and food.

If you're headed out on a very long hike, or getting a late start, it can't hurt to bring along a headlamp or flashlight should you get caught in the dark. Hiking sticks or light ski poles can be brought along to help absorb the shock in the knees when hiking downhill.

Wildflower books are wonderful to bring along to identify the great variety of flowers you'll come across in the high country. And your most important piece of gear: your camera, of course!

Food / Water: No matter the length of hike you are going on, it is always a good idea
to bring water. Dehydration can happen quickly and drinking water is also the best defense against the effects of altitude. Snacks are great to bring along on short hikes to prevent fatique, and of course on longer hikes you'll probably also want to bring along a healthy lunch. Pick up
something at a local restaurant, deli or supermarket, or have them make you a fresh sandwich to go.

We wish you a fun & safe hiking experience!

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