Hike of the Week: Here’s how to keep hiking even with snow on the ground | VailDaily.com

Hike of the Week: Here’s how to keep hiking even with snow on the ground

Nathan Boyer-Rechlin
Hike of the Week
Shoulder season hiking means dressing for winter and knowing where to find warmer trails if you're not ready for heavy boots yet.
Mort Mulliken | Special to the Daily

With snow consistently in the forecast for the next week, the fall hiking season seems to be coming to an end. However, for those still wanting to get out and stretch their legs, good hiking still exists. Whether you stay local and deal with the snow or drive west to the desert, snow in the forecast isn’t a true excuse to stay in.

Here are a few suggestions, tips and tricks for getting out in the next week.

Chase Fall Colors in Fruita

Although driving two hours west doesn’t truly fit as a “Vail area Hike of the Week,” it is desert season and the locals know it. Fall colors on the Cottonwoods are at peak right now in Grand Junction and Fruita, and it is a great time to explore some hikes outside of our backyard.

The McInnis Canyons Conservation area near Fruita has a stunning diversity of Canyonlands and desert hiking. Find a trail down to or along the Colorado River for fall colors or hike into Rattlesnake Arches or Mee Canyon for classic desert scenery. If Fruita is too far a drive for your weekend adventure, check out some of the trails in Glenwood Canyon. Fall is a great time for a hike up Grizzly Creek or Hanging Lake.

Pick Your Aspect

For those that can’t make the drive, plenty of Eagle Valley trails dry up quickly if you know where to look. Focus on trails that are south facing. At 7,500 feet, Avon is right in between Colorado’s Montane and Foothills zones. What this means for hiking is that on the south side of the highway, you will find pinon pine, juniper and shrub communities, plenty of sun and dry trails. The trails of Avon Preserve, June Creek and Berry Creek (all in Avon or Edwards) are great choices.

Dress for Winter

Finally, for those who are undeterred by a little snow, all of the valley’s best trails are still fit for hiking, and you will likely have them to yourself. Make sure to wear waterproof boots and a pair of gaiters, and maybe throw some hot tea or coffee in a thermos.

Until our snowpack gets higher than 8-10 inches, it is probably best to leave the snowshoes at home. However, once we do build a base and there is enough snow to snowshoe, remember that there is also enough snow to avalanche and leave the steep, alpine hikes for next summer (or at least later in the winter when the snowpack is more stable).

Enjoy the last few weeks of fall hiking wherever your boots take you and be warm and safe out there.

Nathan Boyer-Rechlin is the community outreach coordinator for Walking Mountains Science Center. For more information on this hike and others with Walking Mountains, you can reach him at 970-827-9725, ext. 144, or nathanbr@walkingmountains.org.

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