Here in Colorado we live in a vacationland – with mountains and trails and nature surrounding us everywhere. Following are some tips for “field tripping” with your family, right here in your own backyard.
Hiking is an inexpensive and easy form of physical activity – but you need to be prepared, even if you’re planning a quick trip. Here are a few items you’ll want to bring with you:
- Water – and if you hike with your dogs, you’ll need water for them as well.
- First aid kit and cell phone.
- Snacks – trail mix works well. Avoid snacks that might melt in your pocket or pack. You can pack a full lunch if you want to enjoy a picnic.
- Sun screen and bug spray.
- Sunglasses and hat.
- Suitable hiking clothing and shoes with good treads.
- An extra layer – jacket or sweat shirt – in case the weather turns for the worse.
- Camera and binoculars – not essential, but they might enhance your trip.
- Ice packs and snack packs in the car for when you’ve finished your hike — include treats and water for the dogs.
Here are some tips for hiking with your tikes and other critters:
- Never hike alone – and make sure someone knows what trail you are going to hike.
- Use the restroom before you embark – and be prepared to clean up after your dogs on the trail.
- Proceed at a pace your little ones can handle.
- Stay on the trail to avoid snakes and to decrease stress such as erosion on the environment.
- Watch out for loose rocks and low-hanging branches.
- Stop for rest breaks – every 15-20 minutes – and have everyone hydrate (including your dogs). Be sure to pick up your own trash.
- Pause to enjoy the scenery and wildlife.
- Watch your time – little ones (and critters) overheat faster than you. Gradually increase the lengths of your hikes to allow your little ones and critters to increase their stamina.
Here are a few local trails along the Front Range to whet your hiking appetite:
- High Line Canal Trail in Denver. From Hampden Avenue, go south on Colorado Boulevard about 3/4ths of a mile to a small parking area that is the trailhead. The trail is even and shaded.
- Apex Park Trail in Golden. The trailhead is at the lower Heritage Square parking lot. This trail is a mixed bag – some shady, some sunny – and mostly uphill. About 1 mile up you can choose to hike in the beautiful Enchanted Forest. Beware, though, the Trail is popular with mountain bikers.
- Lair O’ the Bear in Morrison. The trailhead is approximately 4 miles west of Morrison, along Highway 74. This is a beautiful, shady trail with lush scenery.
- Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve. From I-70 westbound, take exit 256 and turn right then follow the brown signs. Enjoy the Nature Center exhibits then hike some short, gently rolling trails. Afterwards, you can picnic under the ponderosas.
- Mesa Trailhead, South. The trailhead is 1.7 miles west of Highway 93 off Eldorado Springs Drive (Hwy 170). This trail is mostly exposed, so expect to catch lots of rays. There’s a lot of uphill to this route, but the scenery is spectacular. The Homestead Trail option is challenging, and not for beginners.