Hike of the Week: Identify animal tracks at Tennessee Pass | VailDaily.com

Hike of the Week: Identify animal tracks at Tennessee Pass

Nathan Boyer-Rechlin
Hike of the Week
Lynx, moose, squirrel and snowshoe hare all leave tracks when they walk through the winter snow, and one of the joys of winter hikes is identifying which animals have also been in that same spot.
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One of the joys of getting out on the trail in the winter is that every movement leaves a track. While many animals migrate south for the winter, spend the cold months hibernating or even avoid chilly air by tunneling under the snow, the animals that brave Colorado’s winter leave their tracks in the snow. Despite less overall activity among wildlife, winter offers an easier glimpse into the lives of the animals that call our mountains home.

The Colorado trail near Tennessee Pass offers a great, easy snowshoe hike for learning to identify different animal tracks. Hike this trail north from the parking area at the top of the pas,s and travel through lodgepole pine, spruce and fir forests and then down into the shrubby wetland of Mitchell Creek. This diversity of high subalpine habitat is home to many of the more common animals that are active here in the winter. Squirrel, vole, mouse and snowshoe hare tracks are all easy to spot along this trail. Just last week, on a Walking Mountains snowshoe hike, our hikers even spotted moose tracks in a shrubby field, which is the perfect moose habitat.

To learn more about the basics of tracking prints and reading stories etched in the winter landscape, join Walking Mountains every other Thursday for the Tracks, Signs, and Snowshoes snowshoe hike on a backcountry trail in the White River National Forest.

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, and nathanbr@walkingmountains.org.