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hiker with view of Glenwood Springs

A Happy Hiker’s Guide to Glenwood Springs Trail Etiquette

“Minding your manners” while exploring Glenwood Springs trails is simple, and anything but onerous. It comes down to knowing where to go and what to pack and practicing common-sense protocols that ensure trails stay beautiful for everyone that comes along after you.

Choose Wisely

behind spouting rockGlenwood Springs is home to beautiful hiking trails that run the gamut from easy to intense. Familiarize yourself with the options available and choose a trail that best suits your ability and schedule. For example, Rio Grande Trail is paved with numerous access points for a quick stroll; Cross Trail on Red Mountain is steep and takes about three hours round trip; and Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon requires a permit purchased online.

Be Prepared

Never go exploring without plenty of hydration and some snacks. For short hikes, a water bottle may be sufficient, but for longer treks consider carrying a hydration bladder in your daypack. Even if you’re not thirsty, take sips regularly to avoid dehydration. Early symptoms of dehydration include mild headache, dizziness and fatigue. When it comes to snacks choose items that include protein and carbohydrates. Nuts and dried fruit, even a PB&J sandwich are all good options. Watch for weather changes and know before you go. If in an area that has been affected by fire, moderate to heavy rainfall can down dead trees and cause mudslides or debris flows.

Hike Responsibly

Practice Colorado Leave No Trace principles:

  • Know before you go. Have a map and an emergency plan in case something goes wrong.
  • Stick to the trails. Going off-trail causes erosion and can damage fragile ecosystems.
  • Leave it as you found it. Enjoy Colorado’s natural beauty and leave it the same way for others. Don’t pick flowers, gather natural materials for souvenirs or carve your name in a tree.
  • Trash your trash. If you pack in, be sure you pack it out. Bonus conservation points if you see someone else’s trash on a trail and pack it out as well!
  • Be careful with fire. Wildfires are a Colorado nemesis, and Glenwood Springs is no stranger to the devastation fires can cause. All it takes to start a massive forest fire is one small spark.
  • Don’t feed the wildlife. Yes, the squirrels are cute, but resist the urge to feed them and other wildlife that appear tame no matter how much they may beg for your lunch scraps.
  • Share trails with others. Be thoughtful of other trail users. Don’t blare your music, let faster hikers pass on narrow trails and give horses a wide berth.

Care for Colorado Principles Video Link

Be Sun Safe

family hikingApply a high SPF sunscreen whenever you are outdoors in Colorado. Glenwood Springs is 5,700 feet in elevation and if you are hiking in the area, you are adding even more to that elevation. Higher altitudes may feel cooler, but there is less atmosphere protecting you from the sun’s penetrating UV rays. At worst, a sunburn can cause lasting health damage, and at least it can ruin a few days of your vacation.

Gear Up

Two ladies hikingHiking is an activity that doesn’t require a lot of specialized equipment, that’s part of the appeal. However, some will make your excursion much more enjoyable:

  •    Comfortable, sturdy hiking shoes or boots to navigate steep, rocky terrain;
  •    A rain jacket in case of an afternoon shower;
  •    A broad-brimmed hat to shield your head and shoulders from the sun;
  •    Packable light layers in case the temperature drops; and
  •    A small daypack to carry water bottles, extra clothes, snacks and sunscreen.

Grab a Buddy

couple hiking with sunsetHiking with a companion is sociable and fun, and it also provides an extra layer of safety in the event you get lost or hurt. Sometimes though it’s not possible to hike with a partner, especially if you are traveling solo. In that case, let someone else know where you will be hiking and when you plan to return so they can check in on you.

Well-Behaved Dogs WelcomeDoc the Dog @ Doc Holliday's Grave

Glenwood Springs is a dog-friendly town. Except for Hanging Lake, area trails welcome canine companions provided they are leashed. Glenwood’s trails are extremely popular destinations for hikers and bikers of all ages. Having your pooch on a leash ensures safety for your pet, as well as everyone else on the trails. If you need to let Fido loose, let him run at Glenwood Springs Dog Park along the Rio Grande Trail. If your dog answers nature’s call while on the trail, remember to bag it, pack it out and dispose of it in the nearest trash receptacle. If you wish to give your canine a break, consider one of several doggy daycares in Glenwood Springs.

Now that you’re prepped, it’s time to hit the hiking trails in Colorado’s favorite hot springs town. Learn more and make plans to visit Glenwood Springs today!

Download the official Glenwood Springs Travel Guide

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Visit Glenwood Springs

Hanging Lake winter hiking reservations are  available through April 30, 2024. The US Forest Service has scheduled a rebuild of the Hanging Lake Trail that is set to begin this spring and last throughout the summer months. Reservations will be available at the discretion of the US Forest Service, continue to check this page for updates. Visit the Hanging Lake page HERE for more information and the booking portal.