Telluride Hiking Etiquette 101
There's something so magical about Telluride's trails - the fresh air, waterfalls, wildflowers, and scenic views. As our backyard experiences increased use, it's more important than ever that everyone respects the trails, nature, each other, and uses proper trail etiquette.
Do you know who has the right-of-way when using the trail? While every situation is different and fluid, the rule of thumb is that uphill trail users have the right-of-way. If you are passing a hiker, pass on the left (just like on the road)! Bikers yield to both equestrians and hikers, while hikers also yield to equestrians. Situational awareness is important on the trails - you may need to adapt depending on the trail and situation.
Don't Be Trashy
There's nothing worse than seeing an empty water bottle or trash thrown on a trail. It takes away from the experience for everyone, and it also harms the fragile mountain ecosystem. If you bring something in, be sure to bring it out - plastic takes lifetimes to break down and we don't want our wildlife ingesting it. If you encounter someone else's trash on the trail, be a good trail steward and grab it to throw away at the bottom of the trail.
When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go
Yes, mother nature calls at the most inopportune times sometimes. It's always smart to carry waste bags (Wag Bags or Cleanwaste are great options), but if you don't have anything handy, be sure to go at least 100 yards away from the trail. Yes, we said "stay on the trail", but this is the exception. Solid waste should be buried at least six inches in the ground, and be sure to carry your toilet paper out! You should also make sure that it is at least 100 feet away from a water source to avoid contamination. If you are going #1, a rock is a great place to do it - it will dissipate more easily and dry in the sun.
Carrying out your waste also goes for dogs! Be sure to bring extra bags (we like to double-bag our poop to limit the smell) just in case. They even make waste clips and smell-proof waste bags for your dog poop if you're worried about stinking up the hike! Don't leave it on the trail on out-and-back trails - there's a 99.9% chance you'll forget it and it will end up living on the side of the trail.
Leave Nature Alone
We've all seen those Instagram posts with picked wildflowers in the middle of a field or with someone carving their name into a tree... don't be that person. Leave no trace and leave the trail exactly how you found it so that people behind you can enjoy the trail as much as you did! That goes for wildlife, too... you are in THEIR home, so be sure to respect them and keep your distance. Cairns, while they can be useful, need to be built by people who know where a route is going. If built randomly, they can cause hikers to go in the wrong direction, which can lead to dangerous situations.
The Trail Is a Trail for a Reason
Trails are there to protect the surrounding landscape and environment - there are a lot of plants, insects, and ecosystems that are destroyed when you leave the trail. Even if it's muddy, it's important to think about preserving the trail and going through the mud, rather than going around it and causing more erosion and damage. Switchbacks are also there for a reason - they put the trail at an easier grade, reduce erosion, and ensure you enjoy the view in both directions. Don't disregard switchbacks or make your own trail to save time.
Be Respectful of Other Hikers
While you may really be loving Taylor Swift's new album, not everyone needs to hear it. Put away the speaker and soak in the sounds of nature! While you're at it, be sure to say "hello" to any other hikers passing by.
Enjoy Our Backyard
Yes, there are a lot of rules when enjoying nature - but if we want to keep it pristine for future generations to enjoy, we have to take care of it now. Soak in the views, take those photos, create those memories - but do it without leaving a trace. See you in the mountains!