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Principle 1: Plan Ahead & Prepare

While visiting Vail, we encourage you to explore the surrounding mountains and trails, whether by foot or by bike. Before venturing out, be sure that you have planned and prepared for your excursion.  That way, no matter the difficulty or distance, you will accomplish the trip safely and enjoyably, while simultaneously minimizing impact to the land. Poor planning can often result in miserable hikers and bikers and cause damage to the natural resources.  Involve your whole group of family and friends in the process!  Trip planning ensures the safety of your group, minimize resource damage, prepares you to Leave No Trace, increases your self-confidence and provides opportunities to learn about nature.

Tips For Planning Ahead: 

  • Bring plenty of water – a large re-usable bottle of water or camel back.
  • Pack a trash bag for your waste and any trash you find along the trail.
  • Dress appropriately, bring layers, as the weather can change in an instant, especially at higher elevations. This includes wearing proper footwear (hiking, tennis shoes, not flip flops or sandals).
  • Bring food and extra snacks (protein) to ensure you have the energy needed.
  • Make sure you know the trail (have a map or GPS) to ensure that you don’t get lost or take a wrong turn.
  • Tell someone where you are going, especially if alone, and sign in if available at trail head registry.
  • Check the weather forecast before you head out! Storms (especially in the afternoon) can move in quickly and you don’t want to be caught up in the woods in lightening, rain, hail or snow!
  • If it has recently rained/snowed and the trails are muddy, do not head out as hiking and biking on a muddy trail damages the trail. Wait for another drier day.
  • Many of Vail’s trails can be accessed by taking the FREE Town of Vail Bus (even with your bike). Consider taking a bus to the trailhead to lessen the impact of cars driving and parking at often small trailhead parking lots.

© 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: