Planning is essential in enjoying your time outdoors. On short trails it may be as little as checking the weather conditions, while on longer outings you may want as much information as possible.
Planning will help you stay safe, pack the right gear, and gain confidence in navigating the route.
This section lists some excellent resources to prepare for a trek into the Colorado mountains. The list below is a good starting point to the many resources available online.
Leave no trace while outdoors! If Bigfoot can do it, you can too.
Avalanche Information – While there is a lot of variability in avalanche fatalities from year to year, Colorado has the dubious distinction of leading the nation. The only way to safely survive an avalanche is not to get caught in one. Check conditions before you go and always take the route with least exposure – usually the higher ground.
Mountain Weather – Dedicated mountain weather forecasts provided for up to 5 different elevations. Besides not going during a thunderstorm, keep an eye on the wind speed. High wind sucks the fun out of the adventure very quickly.
14ers.com – an indispensable resource when planning a hike to the highest peaks in Colorado.
Rocky Mtn. Nat’l. Park trail conditions – trail conditions from rangers and volunteers across the park.
COTREX – Colorado Trail Explorer – discover Colorado’s expansive network of trails and track your journey.
- It seems obvious but always worth mentioning, plan to end your hike before thunderstorms roll in.
- Expect temperatures to decrease 5 degrees (F) with every 1000 foot gain in elevation.
- When climbing a 14er, there is twice as much ultraviolet radiation and 25% more light than at sea level.
- Wind is one of the hard things to gauge when hiking and has turned me back more times than any other weather. The lighter you are the more you will be affected, so it’s relative. Below is what you may want to look out for:
- 0-15 mph: Perfect
- 15-25 mph: Annoying
- 25-35 mph: Stay on safer terrain
- 35-45 mph: Gusts will push you around
- 45-55 mph: Walking becomes difficult
- 55-65 mph: Very difficult to walk, gusts could knock you down. Your ice axe/trekking poles/hands/arms get blown to the side unintentionally
- 65+ mph: Why are you still outside? Winds can easily exceed 65 mph on a windy day in the high mountains, so use caution.