Whether you’ve lived in Colorado your whole life or you’re new to the Denver area, outdoor activity is just part of the culture here. That said, we want to put an emphasis on safe outdoor activity. In service of that mission, here are a few tips to help you hike safely around the Denver area.
Learn About Poisonous Plants
When you want to go on a hike, the first thing you need to do is get familiar with the local flora. It’s particularly helpful to be able to identify poisonous plants that you might encounter along your hike. Knowing how to identify poison ivy, for example, is key if you want to avoid a nasty rash. Poison ivy can be found in every U.S. state except Alaska and Hawaii, so be careful while you’re outdoors in Denver! In addition, an estimated 85% of the population is allergic to poison ivy. The more quickly you can identify this plant, the more easily you’ll be able to avoid it while you’re hiking. It’s also important to be able to identify potentially harmful plants if you’re a frequent forager. Whether you see some mushrooms you want to harvest or some edible leafy greens, it’s important to be able to tell edible plants from toxic ones. And if you’re just in it for the joy of being surrounded by nature, then your plant knowledge can at least provide some stimulating outdoor conversation.
Hike Trails Within Your Skill Level
Hiking can be a wonderful activity for people of all athletic skill levels, but it’s important to select trails within your skill level when you’re first starting out. More than 800,000 people are hospitalized every year as a result of fall injuries. The last thing you want is to get seriously injured because the hike you planned was too far outside your skill level. If you’re going out with a more experienced hiker, make your comfort and athletic skill level known before you select a trail to head out on. The more open you are about your comfort and familiarity (or lack thereof) with hiking, the more prepared you’ll be to select trails that you can safely tackle without assistance. If you really want to challenge yourself, try going on a hike with a guide with a significant amount of hiking experience. Not only can they help select an appropriate trail, but they can offer assistance if you’re struggling.
Prepare for All Kinds of Weather Conditions
One of the more dangerous things about hiking in the Colorado mountains is the weather. At higher altitudes, storms can roll in and roll out pretty quickly. That means it’s important for you to be prepared for just about anything while you’re out on the trails. If the weather is sunny when you leave but you see clouds on the horizon, make sure you bring a few extra layers and a waterproof jacket. If conditions are cloudy but there are high winds, bring an extra bottle of sunscreen. Considering that almost 173,000 terawatts of solar energy strike the Earth on a continuous basis, protecting your skin is an important task. It’s also a good idea to bring flashlights and other tools that can help you navigate in all kinds of weather conditions.
Living in Colorado means that outdoor activity can quickly become a regular part of daily life. With so much natural beauty in this area, how could it not? Just make sure you’re prepping appropriately for all of your excursions. Happy hiking!