Hiking This Season in Colorado

After a very wet spring, the weather seems to have calmed down considerably, so a lot of trails are now free of snow and dry enough for hiking. In Boulder, basically all the trails are open again. Most of the damage from the floods in 2013 is also fixed, so you can go almost anywhere and not worry that the trail will be in bad shape.

View of South Boulder from  one of the trails in Chautauqua Park.
View of South Boulder from one of the trails in Chautauqua Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park is not quite as ready yet since it’s at a much higher altitude. There’s still snow in a lot of the higher trails, and a lot of snow once you get above the treeline. The area around Bear Lake was mostly clear as of about a week ago, but the trails above the trailhead may still be snowy. Lower parts of the park should be almost totally clear. The snow will probably be diminishing quite rapidly over the next few weeks. I would guess that most of the shorter hikes are fine, but long hikes like scaling Longs Peak are probably still extremely dangerous.

Current conditions on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park
Current conditions on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

Some tips if you want to hike in Colorado (and especially in the Front Range):

  • Bring a lot of water: It is dry everywhere and hot at lower altitudes
  • Use sunscreen: You will burn quickly without it
  • Start early and end early: Sudden thunderstorms are common between around 1 and 5 pm and are quite dangerous, especially if you are over the treeline
  • Avoid wildlife: There are a lot of dangerous animals. If you make noise while you’re hiking you should avoid running into things like bears and mountain lions
  • Don’t start fires: Wildfires are common in such a dry climate
  • Know your limits: If you’re not used to hiking at higher altitudes, be very careful. You will get tired much more quickly than at sea level

Hiking is generally very safe, but people do get seriously injured and even die every year, and many of those incidents can probably be avoided.

Advertisements