iResort App - Trails
Trails - Biking, Hiking, Snowshoeing

This page is still under construction, but will offer up Summit County trails for hiking, snowshoeing, mountain biking and horseback riding.  The trails will be grouped by difficulty, location and recommended use.  Gear lists, tips, leave no trace information, photos and downloads of trail information provided by the Friends of the Dillon Ranger District and the US Forest Service will be available to users. 

Wildflowers, wildlife, beautiful vistas, tons of fresh air and sunshine, awesome views . . . Colorado hiking in the summer is one of the best parts about visiting the Rockies.  With a wide variety of hikes from short and easy to long and steep, there is something for everyone!

 

 

Hiking overview and tips:

  • Time - Hikes are quoted in round-trip hiking times estimating a speed of about 2 miles per hour.  Of course steeper and more difficult trails may take a bit longer.
  • Distance - Mileage is listed one-way.Elevation gain - The change in elevation for the hike, this provides a solid base for the hike's difficulty.  The more elevation gain, the more challenging the hike in combination with distance.  
  • High point - The peak elevation the hike reaches at it's highest elevation.
  • Rating - The criteria is subjective of course, but in total the rating takes into account the terrain, steepness, distance, length of hike, challenge of following the path and any obstacles or hazards.  
  • Time of Year - Snowmelt at high altitudes can be as late as early July and roads can be closed later into the season and close early to mid September.  
  • Topographic Maps - Topo maps are really helpful, particularly for more complex and longer hikes and are available through the US Geological Survey's Central Region Map Distribution Center and are available from all major wilderness and sporting goods stores in the county. 

Preparation - Broken in shoes or hiking boots with a good tread with good quality socks are critical equipment . . . after all, your feet are your form of transportation!  I like to use hiking poles which help with stability and take pressure off your knees.  Your backpack or lumbar pack should include a map and compass and you need to know how to use them.  A hat, sunscreen and sunglasses, a small first aid kit (including band-aids), insect spray, a pocket knife, a small signal mirror, a whistle, and a small flashlight or headlamp are essential, particularly when venturing out before dawn.  A rain poncho is helpful and in the fall or early spring warm items like gloves, a wool hat and a warm layer such as a down vest or sweater.  Food for energy is critical - you will get surprisingly hungry and protein rich foods like nuts, a sandwich, energy bars and dried fruit are great and easy to pack and eat on the trail.  The most critical item to carry is plenty of water for each hiker - about a gallon per person for longer hikes.  TP or tissue and a baggie to carry it out are helpful.   


Other safety tips - Always hike with others.  Summit county has an emergency 911 system, so carry your fully charged cell phone with you at all times.  Altitude sickness is common if you are coming from sea level, preferably give yourself plenty of time to acclimate before taking on a significant hike.  First symptoms of altitude sickness are headache, lack of appetite and nausea.  Hypothermia lowers your core body temperature, it's key to keep warm and dry.  Do NOT drink water directly from the streams, the water can harbor Giardia which is nasty to your digestive tract (germicides, iodine tablets or boiling water for 15 minutes are the only way to ensure water is safe) to drink.  Electrical storms are dangerous - hike in the mornings and get OFF the mountain if you hear or see lightening and thunder rolling in.  Last, stretch before heading out and take a couple stretch breaks throughout your hike to keep muscles and joints from tripping you up.  

Curious about those beautiful Colorado wildflowers along the trail?  Look them up at http://www.wildflowerchild.info!

http://www.14ers.com provides an edited list of gear to consider taking along with you when venturing on more significant backcountry, long distance, and remote hikes:

Mountaineering in Colorado requires a certain set of gear. Here's a list to help fill your pack: 

Main Gear:

  • Water (plendy of water)
  • Food (high energy and lightweight)
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Synthetic shirts
  • Synthetic long underwear
  • Fleece or Wind-Block jacket
  • Waterproof shell/jacket
  • Nylon shorts
  • Hiking pants
  • Hiking boots, broken in
  • Hiking socks
  • Watch (with an altimeter is nice)
  • Pack (appropriate for your hike/climb)
  • Headlamp
  • Sunglasses (with cord if you like)
  • Knife or multi-tool
  • Water bladder or water bottles
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Maps, and the skill to read them
  • Tape (duck tape is great)
  • Whistle and small mirror for signaling
  • Matches/lighter
  • 30 spf+ sunscreen
  • Toilet paper (in a ziploc baggie)
  • Small trash Bag
  • Cell phone (charged up)
  • Extra batteries
  • Emergency supplies, including a first aid kit
  • Personal locator device
  • Climbing helmet
  • Optional: Trekking poles
  • Optional: Water filter or water treatment tabs/powders
Cold Weather and Snow Climbing:
  • Waterproof shell
  • Waterproof pants
  • Mountaineering boots
  • Mountain axe
  • Snowshoes
  • Crampons
  • Gaiters (ankle or knee-high)
  • Winter wool hat
  • Ski goggles
  • Balaclava or fleece face mask
  • Avalanche beacons
  • Avalanche probe
  • Shovel
Gear for Overnight Summer Trips:
  • Tent and Groundcover
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Pack cover (for rain)
  • Waterproof bag/sack to hang food in tree
  • Small rope to hang food
  • Stove and Fuel
  • Water filter
  • Paper towels
Backcountry Ski Gear:
  • AT/Tele skis / bindings
  • AT/Tele boots
  • Ski poles
  • Climbing skins
  • Climbing skin wax

TRAVEL and CAMP on DURABLE SURFACES

 

Colorado’s Fourteeners are scarred by multiple trails where only one is desirable, trampled tundra, eroded gullies, and other damage directly attributable to human behavior. Practicing minimum impact travel and camping techniques will help reduce these impacts and prevent the need for costly and labor intensive restoration efforts.

 

•     Stay on the Trail:

-      Concentrate travel along existing routes

-      Walk through muddy and rutted out areas, not around them

-      Never cut switchbacks

-      When the trail is covered by snow, travel over snow and rock until the trail can be regained

-      Take rest breaks on durable surfaces

•     Where a Trail Does Not Exist:

-      Travel over durable surfaces (snow and rock)

-      Avoid traveling over melting layers of thin snow

-      Disperse use over a wide area to minimize impacts to fragile alpine vegetation

-      Avoid gullies and steep loose slopes prone to erosion and vegetation loss.

-      Glissade responsibly

•     Camp Responsibly:

-     Camp on durable surfaces

-          Camp below timberline

-          Store food securely

-     Leave your campsite clean

 

Stay on the Trail:

Concentrate travel along existing routes - Since Fourteeners receive heavy foot traffic, most peaks have established trails or well-worn social paths leading to their summits. For this reason, traveling off trail, which can have a significant impact on fragile alpine tundra, is generally unnecessary and inappropriate.

 

Often, multiple social paths exist along the route to the summits of popular Fourteeners. These paths develop due to the fragility alpine vegetation and the lack of a well-delineated summit trail. Always travel on the most worn path. This will increase the likelihood that vegetation within and around less developed social paths will be able to recover. Also, when descending Fourteeners, try to descend the same social path that you used to climb the peak.

 

Some Fourteener routes are more environmentally appropriate than others. Consult CFI's web site www.14ers.org for a list of recommended routes. The web site also provides a list of site-specific environmental concerns for each Fourteener. Knowing these concerns will help you to minimize your impact while climbing.

 

Walk through muddy and rutted out areas, not around them - When confronted by a muddy or wet section of trail, walk through the middle rather than around it. Avoiding puddles and muddy spots widens the trail, promotes erosion, and requires expensive, time-consuming restoration efforts. Remember that boots dry overnight, but tundra plants can take centuries to recover.

 

Never cut switchbacks - Properly constructed, sustainable trails on Colorado’s Fourteeners switch back and forth uphill to maintain a constant grade and reduce erosion. By short cutting these switchbacks, people trample vegetation and over time the trampled areas frequently erode into gullies. These gullies are not just an eyesore, they remove essential topsoil from the area and divert water and nutrients from other vegetation. For the sake of the plants and animals that make their home in the high country, do not cut switchbacks.

 

When snow covers the trail, travel over snow and rock until the trail can be regained - During spring and early summer, portions of Fourteener trails and social paths will be covered by snow. It is important that you travel over this snow or other durable surfaces such as rock until the trail can be regained. Hiking around snowfields will severely damage alpine vegetation just as it is coming out of dormancy and preparing for its growth season. Safe travel over snow requires full leather boots, an ice axe, and mountaineering experience. The best way to relocate the trail is to follow the general direction of the hiking route and look for cairns, pyramid shaped piles of rock which mark alpine hiking routes, or other signs of human disturbance.

 

Take rest breaks on durable surfaces - When taking a rest break, be sure to find a durable surface. Since the upper reaches of Colorado’s Fourteeners do not have trees to obstruct people’s view, it is often difficult to take a break out of sight from other hikers. For this reason, it is acceptable to take breaks on the trail if other visitors will not be affected by your presence. Resting on the trail will reduce trampling of surrounding areas. If other hikers will pass by during your break, it is often best to find an easily accessed durable surface to rest upon. Often, rocky outcroppings or snowfields are good places to rest. Be sure to assess the route you will take to your resting area. If you choose a moist, blooming, or otherwise fragile path, you will likely trample sensitive plants. Also, try not to travel the same route back to the trail. This will reduce the likelihood that your footsteps will fall on any piece of vegetation more than once. Social paths often develop between trails and resting places through hikers continually traveling over, and consequently trampling, the same vegetated areas.

 

Where a Trail Does Not Exist:

Travel over durable surfaces (snow and rock) - Many Fourteener routes have sections where no trail or path is clearly marked. It is your responsibility to keep these areas pristine. By traveling over durable surfaces, you will be able to minimize your impact. Rocks and solid, stable snow cover are the most durable surfaces in Colorado’s high country. Avoid walking over fragile alpine vegetation. Studies in the Rockies have shown that it takes only a moderate number of footfalls to severely damage most tundra plants.

 

Avoid traveling over melting layers of thin snow - Snow is generally a durable surface, but there are times when traveling on snow can damage the tundra below. Snow that is solid and not slushy protects the tundra beneath from being trampled. As snowfields recede in the spring and early summer, their edges become slushy and thin. These areas are very susceptible to permanent damage from human trampling. When a thin blanket of snow is compressed and compacted, melting is delayed, decreasing the growing season for plants. Furthermore, plants pressed into the mud below the snow have little chance of survival, and a sliding boot easily uproots plants growing in wet soils surrounding snowfields.

 

Disperse use over a wide area to minimize impacts to fragile alpine vegetation - When traveling over tundra or other vegetated areas is the only option, be sure that your group disperses use over a wide area. Walking single file up a vegetated slope will increase the likelihood that any one piece of vegetation will receive multiple footfalls. By walking side-by-side, you and members of your group will be able to spread your impacts over a wider area.

 

Avoid gullies and steep loose slopes prone to erosion and vegetation loss - “Screeing,” the practice of sliding down steep dirt or rubble is always inappropriate. Unfortunately, some people think that bounding down scree slopes has little impact because they believe plants do not populate these areas. This is a misperception. Many of the plants are too small for the casual observer to notice. In fact, these fragile environments are often home to rare and endangered plant species. Also, sparsely vegetated, steep, dirt and rubble slopes and gullies are easily eroded. For this reason, “screeing” often results in the development of gullies that divert water and nutrients away from nearby vegetated areas.

 

Glissade responsibly - Glissading - sliding on snow - is a popular form of descending Colorado’s Fourteeners. If done properly, sliding on snow can be a safe, fun, and minimum impact way to return to the bottom of a peak. However, if done improperly, glissading can be dangerous to humans and damaging to the environment. Slide only with the understanding that there are risks involved. Calculate those risks to minimize the chance of injury. Always assess the grade, length, and run out of the slope and consider the potential for an avalanche before glissading. To maximize safety, maintain constant control when sliding and carry and know how to use an ice axe to self-arrest.

 

Poorly planned glissading is not only unsafe, it can damage the tundra at the top and bottom of the snowfield. When accessing snowy slopes, travel on rocks or snow to avoid trampling vegetation. Be sure that the slope’s end will place you on another durable surface so that you may return to the trail without damaging tundra plants. Otherwise, choose an alternate method for your descent.

 

Camp Responsibly:

Camp on durable surfaces – Minimum impact camping on Colorado’s Fourteeners requires special considerations. Remember that good campsites are found, not made. Minimize site alterations (digging trenches for tents and constructing lean-tos, tables, or chairs is inappropriate) and be sure to replace anything that you decide to move. Where possible, use established sites to concentrate your activities in already disturbed areas. The kitchen, which generally receives the most foot traffic, should be placed on rock, mineral soil, or another durable surface. Campsites should be at least 200 feet (about 70 adult steps) from the trail and water sources to minimize undesirable human and wildlife interactions.

 

If an established site is not available, find the most durable area to establish your camp and practice purist minimum impact practices so as to leave the site as pristine as possible. It is always best to avoid lightly impacted campsites (sites that show evidence of use, such as crushed or flattened vegetation, but have not yet been trampled) so that they can recover.

 

Camp below timberline - Camping above timberline is not recommended. Trees provide shelter from mountain weather and fallen needles and leaves create a more durable ground surface than tundra. One night camping on tundra can severely damage or even kill alpine plants. If camping above timberline is your only option, several things should be considered. Snow, rock, or an existing, fully impacted campsite are the most durable surfaces above treeline. While in camp, limit your activity and avoid trampling surrounding vegetation by wearing soft-soled shoes or sandals and by minimizing the number of times you step in and out of your tent. Take alternate routes to and from the kitchen and tent, and use collapsible water containers to minimize the number of trips needed from camp to water. If you choose to stay above treeline for more than one night, move your campsite daily to give the tundra a chance to recover.

 

Store Food Securely- Since many of Colorado’s Fourteeners are home to black bears, how and where you store your food at camp is especially important. Bears can be dangerous if surprised or provoked, and are attracted to people and their food  If they become a nuisance they are often trapped and ultimately killed (the US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region’s web-site at www.fs.usda.gov is an excellent resource for information on hiking and camping safely in bear country).

 

The ‘campsite triangle’ will help ensure your safety and the safety of your food. The three corners of the triangle are the tent or sleeping area, the kitchen, and the food storage area. Where possible, each site should be separated from the others by 100 yards. Storing your food away from your kitchen and tent minimizes the chance of a wildlife encounter.

 

Food, garbage, and toiletries should be stored in a properly hung bear bag or bear resistant container. To hang a bear bag, you will need two ropes, a stuff sack, and two trees. Attach a stone to one end of a rope, then throw the stone over a sturdy limb of one tree. Using the same technique, hang the other rope over a limb of the other tree. Bring one end from each of the ropes together, and tie the stuff sack filled with food, garbage, and toiletries to both rope ends. Next, using both ropes, hoist the bear bag in place. Ideally, the bag should be at least twelve feet above the ground and six feet from the supporting trees.

 

Even if bears are not in the area where you are camping, always store food securely to minimize the possibility of other animals eating your rations. Although small animals and birds may appear to “beg”, their digestive systems cannot handle many human foods, and feeding them may actually kill them. Proper food storage will ensure the safety of your food source and that of the wildlife. Be sure to perform a “final sweep” of the kitchen and food storage areas before leaving camp. Make sure that all food scraps and small pieces of trash are packed out

           

Leave your campsite clean - In established camping areas, a clean site will encourage the likelihood that other visitors will use it. This will reduce the development of new and unnecessary sites. When camping in a pristine area it is important to both clean and naturalize your site. Most campsites will recover from a single use. Cleaning and naturalizing the campsite will reduce the likelihood that others will camp there. This is especially important above timberline where impacted vegetation is slow to recover. To naturalize the site, recover scuffed up areas with natural materials, and brush out footprints or matted grass with a stick.

 


DISPOSE of WASTE PROPERLY

 

Waste takes many forms. From foil wrappers to apple cores, tin cans to urine, backcountry waste is an issue with which each visitor must cope. At best, handling and disposing of refuse can be an organized, well thought out process. At worst, it can be unsanitary, unsightly, damaging, and dangerous. Properly disposing of waste on Colorado’s Fourteeners is especially challenging and takes knowledge, dedication, and perseverance; however, positive or negative choices you make will have lasting positive or negative effects on the beauty of the areas you visit.

 

•     Pack It In, Pack It Out - Garbage and Trash Alike

•     Wash dishes responsibly

•     Dispose of Human Waste Properly:

      - Below timberline, bury solid human waste in a cathole

      - Pack out solid human waste above timberline

      - Avoid urinating on vegetation

•     Pack Out All Toilet Paper and Feminine Hygiene Products

 

Pack It In, Pack It Out - Garbage and Trash Alike:

Garbage and trash on Colorado’s Fourteeners is a very real problem with a very simple solution: pack it out. More than just an eyesore, litter can endanger wildlife and kill tundra plants.

 

Garbage - defined as biodegradable food waste such as orange peels, eggshells, leftover oatmeal, or coffee grounds - and trash - defined as non-food items such as aluminum cans, plastic bags, candy wrappers, or nylon rope - should be packed out. While most people understand that leaving trash behind is wrong, they sometimes consider biodegradable food waste benign. It is not. In fact, garbage left behind attracts animals that, in time, come to depend on humans as a food source. Burning or burying garbage is not an option because neither method will break down the garbage completely. Animals will invariably smell, locate, and eat this food.

 

Furthermore, garbage and trash left on tundra blocks critical sunlight and water from plants, thereby killing them. In fact, a single piece of litter can kill the alpine plants it covers in three to four weeksDecomposition in alpine areas is extremely slow, worsening the impact of improperly disposed garbage and trash. Even an orange peel left behind will require many years to fully decompose. Given the slow rate of breakdown and the advent of plastics, present-day litter left in Colorado’s high country could forseeably last thousands of years. Neither garbage nor trash should be left in the backcountry. If you pack it in, pack it out.

 

Wash Dishes Responsibly:

Hot water and a little elbow grease can tackle most backcountry cleaning chores; therefore soap, which is harmful to the environment, is unnecessary for most dishwashing jobs. Even biodegradable soap can add harmful compounds to soil, vegetation, and water sources. Dishwater and water used to cook food (i.e. pasta water), is called “gray water” and should be strained for food particles and scattered widely, away from camp. All strained food particles should be packed out.

 

Dispose of Human Waste Properly:

Proper disposal of human waste - solid and liquid alike - in Colorado’s high country requires special considerations. Human fecal matter contains pathogens and bacteria that pollute water and endanger humans and other animals. Urine, although essentially sterile, can have a severe impact on humans, wildlife, and plants alike. By understanding the effects of human waste in alpine areas, you will be better prepared to dispose of your wastes properly.

 

Below timberline, bury solid human waste in a cathole - Since solid human waste deposited on the surface is likely to pollute water sources and offend other visitors, it is generally recommended that hikers bury feces below timberline. To promote decomposition, choose a site in organic soil, rather than sandy or mineral soil. With a small garden trowel, dig a hole four to eight inches deep and four to six inches in diameter. After use, refill the hole with organic soil and debris (exposure to organic soil will speed up the breakdown of the feces) and disguise it with natural materials. It is inappropriate to deposit human waste under rocks, because rock inhibits moisture and heat, critical factors in decomposition.

           

Above treeline, pack out all solid human waste - Digging catholes above timberline damages tundra plants. Smearing feces, a technique advocated by some, is unsanitary and has a tremendous social impact when discovered. Instead, carry a paper bag containing a small amount of kitty litter which is placed inside of a plastic bag. Deposit the feces in the paper bag, roll it up, and place the package within a sealed plastic bag (a small dry bag, like those used for kayaking, works well too). Pack the entire package out with you and deposit it, minus the plastic bag, in an outhouse, RV waste facility, or septic tank. Do not deposit human feces in trashcans or dumpsters, since it is illegal and unsanitary. Also, do not deposit plastic bags in outhouses or toilets because the bags will clog such facilities. If packing out human waste makes you uncomfortable, go below treeline and use the cathole method. Remember that when climbing Fourteeners, we take on an added responsibility to preserve their rare and fragile environments.

           

Avoid Urinating on Vegetation - Animals that live on Fourteeners, especially mountain goats and marmots, are attracted to the salt content in urine. Urine residue can entice animals to chew on plants and dig up soil. This can be especially harmful in tundra communities where regrowth of damaged vegetation is extremely slow. Instead of urinating on vegetation, urinate on rock, mineral soil, or duff. Urine’s strong odor can also become a factor when concentrated in one area. With this in mind, avoid urinating on summits and areas where people frequently camp. If a campsite reeks of urine, people will be less likely to camp there and may therefore create a new and unnecessary campsite.

 

Pack Out Toilet Paper and Feminine Hygiene Products:

Toilet paper and feminine hygiene products should always be packed out. The bleaches, perfumes, and dyes used in such products do not belong in a backcountry setting. Burying such matter is inappropriate, especially since animals will be attracted to the scent and will dig it up. Carry extra ziplock bags, double bag feminine hygiene products and toilet paper, and pack them out. An alternative to packing out toilet paper is forgoing its use and trying "natural" alternatives, such as clean stones, smooth sticks, and snow. Toilet paper should not be burned as this disposal technique has resulted in many forest fires.



LEAVE WHAT YOU FIND

 

Visitors to Colorado’s Fourteeners enjoy the peaks' unique beauty and history. Yet the very plants, animals, rocks, and cultural artifacts that make Colorado’s Fourteeners special are often disrupted or altered by human actions. Wildflowers are picked. Potshards and arrowheads are taken. Antlers become garden decorations. Rocks are removed as tokens of remembrance. In these ways, the very people who appreciate it threaten the natural and cultural heritage treasured by outdoor enthusiasts. As a visitor to Colorado’s high country, you have a responsibility to preserve these important resources by leaving them where they are found so that others may discover, experience, and enjoy them.

 

•     Do Not Take Flowers, Berries, or Rocks

•     Leave Cultural Artifacts Where You Find Them

•     It Is Inappropriate to Build Cairns or Otherwise Mark Trails or Paths

 

Do Not Take Flowers, Berries Or Rocks:

Taking natural items such as plants, berries, or rocks deprives other visitors of the experience of discovery and jeopardizes the health of present and future plant populations. Berries and flowers disperse seeds, thus ensuring the propagation of plants. Removing these seed carriers reduces a plants chance of survival and, in the case of rare and endangered flora endemic to Fourteeners, could even jeopardize the health of an entire species. Other, seemingly lifeless, natural items like antlers, skeletons, and fallen branches also must be left where they are found. These items provide food and shelter for plants and animals.

 

Leave Cultural Artifacts Where You Find Them:

Under the National Historical Protection Act of 1966 and the Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, all artifacts on public lands are protected. Based on these laws, removing, defacing, or otherwise disturbing any human altered item over fifty years old is illegal. Perhaps more important than the legal ramifications, however, is that taking items from cultural sites robs the area of its history. Taking metal tools, cans, or signs from mining camps or pot shards, arrowheads, or other cultural artifacts essentially removes important clues to the past history of Native Americans and early pioneers who inhabited Colorado's mountains. The sites most valuable to archeologists are those that have been preserved intact since being abandoned. Rather than robbing these sites of their history, take photographs and enjoy these areas from a distance.

 

Consider the cumulative effect of hundreds-of-thousands of visitors to Colorado’s Fourteeners. If everyone took “just one” item, the overall effect would be disastrous. Many plant and animal populations would decline or disappear. Cultural and historic sites would become barren of their history. To enjoy these spectacular mountains with their natural and cultural resources intact, we must all do our part by leaving what we find.

 

It is Inappropriate to Build Cairns or Otherwise Mark Trails or Paths:

The unauthorized placement of cairns, pyramid shaped piles of rock used to mark alpine hiking routes, is often illegal and can endanger other hikers. Thirty-five of Colorado's Fourteeners lie within federally designated wilderness. The development of any permanent structure, including cairns, within these areas is prohibited. Land managers have special administrative exceptions to build cairns which will direct climbers away from sensitive areas and onto minimum impact Fourteener climbing routes; however, the majority of cairns on Fourteener routes have been illegally and incorrectly constructed. Despite best intentions, individuals who build unauthorized cairns often, unknowingly direct other climbers away from appropriate hiking routes and onto unsafe or particularly fragile ground. Over time, other hikers will build additional cairns to mark what they think is a better route. The end result is dozens of unneeded and haphazardly placed cairns sending hikers off in a myriad of different directions. Flagging and other means of marking trails is also inappropriate. When climbing Fourteeners that do not have established trails or well-delineated routes, correct use of a map and compass will ensure good route finding and reduce the need for cairns and trail markings.


MINIMIZE CAMPFIRE IMPACTS

 

In the past, people who hiked Fourteeners relied upon campfires for cooking and warmth. Sadly, the enduring legacy of these campfires is depleted wood sources, scarred rocks, massive forest burns, and multiple fire rings where only one is needed. Fortunately, with the advent of the lightweight stove, campfires are no longer necessary.

 

Alpine environments are especially susceptible to campfire impacts. For this reason, it is strongly recommend that Fourteener hikers observe the following minimum impact practices:

 

•     Use a Campstove to Cook Meals

•     Fires are Not Advised, Especially Above Timberline

 

Use a Campstove to Cook Meals:

A stove is the most safe, efficient, and low impact cooking option available. You will find that cooking with a stove is easier, safer, and faster than campfire cooking. Lightweight stoves are also invaluable in the event of an emergency. Stoves can provide stranded or injured hikers with warmth at any location without their having to gather wood or build a fire. This is especially helpful on Fourteeners where burnable wood is frequently not available.

 

Fires are Not Advised, Especially Above Timberline:

Alpine environments are easily impacted by and recover slowly from the use of campfires. Fires scorch the ground leaving behind an unsightly bare spot devoid of vegetation. Above timberline, this scar could require hundreds of years for full recovery. Also, dead and downed wood is a scarce commodity near timberline. As this wood decomposes, it provides nutrients to alpine plants struggling to survive in a harsh and unforgiving environment. If all or even a small percentage of the hundreds-of-thousands of people attempting to climb a Fourteener each year built campfires, the results would be devastating and irreversible. For this reason, the use of campfires is strongly discouraged.

 


RESPECT WILDLIFE

 

Human effects on Fourteener wildlife are a very real concern. An increasing amount of scientific research shows that human visitors can have a dramatic effect on breeding, migration, and feeding patterns of wildlife. Elk fleeing from human onlookers indicate a pattern of avoidance. Casual encounters with gray jays (a.k.a. camp robbers) or ground squirrels in established campgrounds illustrate patterns of attraction. Black Bears, which are common throughout the Rocky Mountains, also demonstrate patterns of attraction towards humans. Bears that learn to associate humans with food are often relocated or killed to minimize their threat to human visitors. To avoid these unfortunate outcomes and enjoy the presence of wildlife on the Fourteeners, a few common sense minimum impact techniques should be employed.

 

•     Never Feed Wildlife

•     View Wildlife From a Distance

•     Do Not Disturb Nesting, Feeding, or Mating Animals

•     Keep Your Dog Under Control

 

Never Feed Wildlife:

Feeding wildlife is a prevalent problem on Colorado’s Fourteeners. An emboldened marmot or mountain goat that approaches humans in search of food indicates the effect human food can have on wild animals. More subtle impacts also occur. Wildlife populations that increase during summer months based on a plentiful human food source, may crash in the fall when the numbers of visitors decrease. Exotic, non-native species may also gain a competitive advantage based on human feedings. The unintended result may be that native species are displaced from their preferred habitat. Individual animals may also suffer due to consumption of human food. Often, human food cannot be digested by wildlife. As such, wildlife can become malnourished by eating human food instead of their normal, nutrient rich, food sources. The animals weakened health will make them more susceptible to disease and predation.

 

Feeding wildlife is an easy problem to correct. By storing food securely, maintaining a clean campsite, and only feeding human food to humans, we each do our part to minimize the impact our presence has on Fourteener wildlife.

 

View Wildlife From a Distance:

When viewing wildlife, never approach or follow them. Instead, quietly view wildlife from a distance. By approaching or following wildlife for a “better look,” you are endangering yourself and stressing the animals. This stress can be especially harmful to Fourteener animals. As an example, mountain goats’ survival during the winter months is dependent on their ability to eat plentiful amounts of food during the very short season when vegetation on Fourteeners is readily available for consumption. Stress brought on by humans can divert the goats’ energies away from eating this much-needed food. If an animal moves because of your presence, you are too close.

 

Do Not Disturb Nesting, Feeding, or Mating Animals:

Studies have shown that disturbing mating or nesting animals can have long-lasting impacts on the health of individual animals and animal populations as a whole. Fourteener animals are particularly vulnerable during the winter and spring when energy is at a premium. Disturbing mountain goats, elk, or other Fourteener wildlife during these times threatens the survival of the animal and its young by forcing them to expend critical energy on activities other than food gathering and basic survival. Remember that you are the visitor in the animal’s domain. Minimize your impact on wildlife by respecting their space and avoiding them and their habitat during critical times of the year.

 

Keep Your Dog Under Control:

A well-behaved and closely watched dog can be an excellent companion for a Fourteener climb. However, left uncontrolled, dogs can be a nuisance to other visitors and a threat to wildlife. Many Fourteeners have specific regulations regarding pets. Be sure you know and follow leash laws. More importantly, be sure that your dog is under control at all times - within sight and under voice or leash control. Dogs are not a natural part of an alpine environment. Alpine mammals evolved with canine predators, and the mere sight of a domestic dog causes them stress. When chasing wildlife, dogs threaten animals’ health and disturb the balance of existing predator/ prey relationships. Only bring your dog to Colorado’s high country if you are certain that your dog will follow your commands at all times. Otherwise, for the sake of your dog and the local wildlife, it is often best to leave your dog at home.


BE CONSIDERATE of OTHER VISITORS

 

With more than 200,000 hikers attempting to climb a Fourteener each year, visitor crowding and conflict have begun to threaten the quality of recreational experiences for all. Once a place for solitude, Fourteeners are now typified by bustling summits and busy trailheads. Despite growing popularity, it is still possible to experience solitude on Fourteeners; however, to do so, hikers must respect each other and reduce the visibility of their presence on the trail and at camp. Social impacts can be minimized through a few simple minimum impact techniques.

 

•     Minimize Group Size

•     Avoid Popular Areas During Times of High-Use

•     Consider the Social Impacts of Your Trail and Campsite Demeanor.

 

Minimize Group Size:

One important way to lessen the effect you have on other Fourteener hikers' outdoor experience is to minimize your group’s size. The ideal on-trail group size is between four and six. This group size will allow you to minimize your presence on the trail, without compromising the safety of the group's members in the event of an emergency. If you are part of a larger group, consider splitting the group into smaller units when traveling. Check with local land managers for the legal maximum group size in Wilderness areas.

 

Avoid Popular Areas During Times of High-Use:

Fourteeners, especially the more popular Front and Sawatch Range peaks, are particularly crowded on summer weekends and holidays. By avoiding these peak-use days, you will reduce visitor crowding and improve the quality of your and other hikers’ Fourteener experience.

 

Consider the Social Impacts Of Your Trail and Campsite Demeanor:

When hiking Fourteeners, be considerate of other visitors. Loud behavior as well as brightly colored clothing will increase your visibility to other hikers and significantly impact their ability to enjoy the surrounding natural beauty. Talk quietly within your group, never throw or roll rocks or boulders, and wear earth-colored clothing. In recent years, the use of cell-phones and other electronic devices, especially on Fourteener summits, has become popular. Use of these devices often disturbs other hikers. Please be considerate of others and reserve the use of cell phones and other electronic devices for emergency situations.

 

You can also be a courteous hiker by yielding to others, especially those faster or less mobile than you. When yielding to others, step to the side of the trail and wait patiently for them to pass before resuming travel. This will reduce impacts to vegetation beside the trail. Remember, uphill traffic always has the right of way and hikers should yield to equestrians and bikers. When encountering stock animals, always step slowly to the downhill side of the trail and keep your voice low to avoid spooking them. In general, if you expect and respect others, misunderstandings and conflicts will be minimized.

 

At camp, be aware of other campers’ desire for solitude. Choose a tent site that does not broadcast your presence. Camping above timberline, in addition to the inevitable damage to tundra plants, is not recommended because of the visual and social impacts to other visitors. Earth-colored tents and camping equipment will help you to blend into your surroundings. Where possible and environmentally appropriate, camp away from popular areas such as trails and water sources and other people. Minimize loud noises, use radios or other electronic devices sparingly, and talk quietly especially after dusk and before dawn.

 


RECOMMENDED FOURTEENER GEAR LIST

 

  • Three Layer Clothing System - the three layer non-cotton system is advised for all areas of body, head to toe (wicking or skin layer made of polyproplene or similar material, insulating or middle layer made of pile or wool, and shell or outer layer made of a waterproof breathable material - earth-colored clothing is preferred because it is less visible to other visitors)

  • Footwear – rugged water resistant boots allow for safe travel over or through snow, mud, or standing water

  • Socks and Liner Socks – wearing non-cotton socks and liner socks together (two-sock system) reduces likelihood of blisters

  • Backpack – 2,500 to 3,000 cubic inch, internal frame pack is an appropriate size for day hikes (size varies for multi-day climbs)

  • Helmet – many Fourteeners have loose rock

  • Sunglasses, Sunscreen, and Brimmed Hat – to protect skin from the intense ultra-violet rays at higher elevations

  • Extra Food and Water – Fourteener hikes often take longer than anticipated

  • Map and Compass – extreme mountain weather can make navigation by sight impossible

  • Fire Starter, Matches, and Knife – be prepared for emergencies

  • Headlamp and Extra Batteries – stumbling around in the dark is not safe or fun

  • First Aid Kit – be prepared for emergencies

  • Water Filter – even high altitude lakes and streams carry Giardia

  • Binoculars and Telephoto Camera Lenses – observe and photograph wildlife from a safe and unobtrusive distance

  • Trowel – for human waste disposal below timberline (use dual paper and plastic bag system to pack out human waste above timberline)

  • Plastic Bags for Repackaging Food – reduce litter at the source

  • Screen for Straining Dishwater – food particles left behind attract animals to campsites

  • Collapsible Ski Poles – relieve pressure on the knees during long descents

  • Ice axe, Crampons, and Rope – as necessary for technical climbs

 

 

WEB-SITES of INTEREST

 

Colorado Fourteeners Initiative: www.14ers.org

Colorado Mountain Club: www.cmc.org

Colorado Avalanche Information Cente: www.avalanche.state.co.us

Leave No Trace: www.lnt.org

National Weather Service (NOAA): www.forecast.weather.gov

The Weather Channel: www.weather.com

Weather Underground: www.weatherunderground.com

 

 

FOR INFO 720-273-0245

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