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Trail Tips

Things you need to know about hiking in the Springs



Some things you need to know about hiking here:

• Drink water. Lots of water. Our arid climate evaporates the moisture right out of you without you even realizing it.

• Take it easy, especially at first. The thin air at our elevation can cause even the hardiest person to have trouble breathing, become exhausted or, worse, develop altitude sickness. If you get a headache, feel lightheaded, or start vomiting, slow down, hydrate and get to a lower elevation.

• Dress in layers, or bring layering clothes. Wear "wicking" clothes next to your skin, to pull warmth-robbing moisture away; even in the summer, temperatures can change drastically, especially after sunset, at higher elevations or after a rainstorm.

• Speaking of rainstorms, they're regular here during "monsoon season," which runs, well, all summer and into early fall. They can spring up almost without notice, usually in the afternoon, and bring lightning, hail and strong winds. Locals hit the trails early and return a little after lunchtime, then back on around dinner.

• When it's not raining, wear sunscreen. At our altitude, there's less atmosphere to filter out harmful UV rays before they cook your skin. SPF 30 is the minimum you should use, higher if you're prone to burning or have light skin. This applies even in the winter.

• Wear appropriate footwear. Those nice slick-soled sandals you brought with you are simply not going to work here. You'll likely slip and fall on Pikes Peak scree (gravel) that covers most of the surfaces around here.

• Know your trail etiquette. People hiking uphill have the right of way, unless a horse is coming down; everyone yields to horses at all times. Bicyclists, even those going uphill, yield to horses and hikers. Stay on trails, and don't shortcut switchbacks. (Those locals you see doing that? We can't stand them, either.) Take your trash with you. Pick up your dog's poop. Speaking of dogs, if a park has signage requiring dogs be leashed, then leash them. You may think your dog is gentle, but other people (and their dogs) don't know that.

• The chances of seeing dangerous wildlife like a bear or mountain lion are extremely low, especially in well-traveled parks and trails. On the odd chance that you do, don't run. Instead, make yourself look big, make lots of noise, and back away. They really don't want to be near you, and just need a means of exit.

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