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Planning for Vail Hikes

Know Before You Go

Hiking in the mountains can be a strenuous and potentially dangerous activity, but with some planning, it can be a wonderful experience that the entire family can enjoy. You can help us protect the special places surrounding the Town of Vail by making sure you are prepared for your adventure!

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics encourages all those recreating in the outdoors to follow 7 Principles to ensure that these places will remain in excellent condition now and into the future. The 7 Principles are:

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

Know the regulations and rules for the area you are visiting. These are often, but not always, posted at the trailhead. Information can be found by contacting the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District at 970-827-5715.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Stay on the trail and walk single-file in order to keep singletrack single. Use pre-established campsites that are at least 100 feet from water and trails.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

Pack out all trash and waste, including dog waste. Dispose of human waste at least 200 feet from water in a hole six to eight inches deep. You’ll need a shovel or trowel for this.

4. Leave What You Find

Leave rocks and plants as you found them for others to enjoy. Do not touch or disturb cultural or historical artifacts or structures.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

Campfires are prohibited within a ¼ mile of lakes and above 11,000 feet in the Eagles Nest Wilderness. Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings and do not burn any trash.

6. Respect Wildlife

Observe wildlife from a distance and do not follow or approach them. Never feed animals as it can alter their behavior and expose them to predators and other dangers.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Avoid yelling or talking too loudly while on a trail. Many people use these trails to get away from the busyness of developed areas. Respect others and the quality of their experience.

Items you will want to bring on your hike:

  • Water
  • Backpack
  • Rain Protection (waterproof jacket/pants)
  • Sturdy, Waterproof Shoes or Hiking Boots
  • Sunscreen – 30 SPF minimum
  • Food/Snacks
  • First Aid Kit
  • Camera
  • Cell Phone
  • Compass/Map/GPS
  • Hat/Ballcap
  • Sunglasses
  • Flashlight/Headlamp
  • Extra Clothing (e.g., shirt, socks)

Dogs & Leashes

On all trails that enter the Eagles Nest Wilderness, as well as on the North Trail, DOGS ARE REQUIRED TO BE ON A PHYSICAL LEASH. There are four main reasons for this:

Many wildlife such as moose, coyote, mountain lion, and elk, see your dog as a threat and may attack your dog to protect their young or themselves.

Remember that you are visiting wildlife’s home while on your hike. Many of these species are very sensitive and, given the short summers and heavy traffic in our area, are often doing all they can to survive. Being chased, or even feeling threatened by a dog can have long-lasting negative effects on our wildlife populations.

Keeping your dog on a leash will minimize the likelihood of a negative encounter with another dog.

Not all trail users are fond of dogs, even the nice ones! Keeping your dog on a leash will ensure that other users do not feel threatened or anxious about encountering your dog