Vail Today: Find out who else is on the trails in the winter with Walking Mountains (video) | VailDaily.com

Vail Today: Find out who else is on the trails in the winter with Walking Mountains (video)

If you are looking to mix up your activities while on vacation, consider taking the guided snowshoe hike on top of Vail Mountain, courtesy of Walking Mountains Science Center.

You'd be surprised at the amount of wildlife species that are out there in the winter. Many animals tolerate the winter cold and food shortages, including deer, mountain lions, pine squirrels and weasels, gray jays and chickadees. Signs of wildlife tend to be more noticeable in the winter, too. "Tracks, scat, and food scraps stand out much more in the snow," said Hannah Irwin, Community Programs Manager for Walking Mountains Science Center. "Our naturalists often point out the tracks of coyotes, bobcats or snowshoe hares. Every snowshoer we take out seems to be a bit more willing to play in the cold, having learned how tough winter wildlife really are," Irwin said.

In this age of constant electronic stimulus and screen time, it's even more important to take time to intentionally unplug. "It is in our DNA to want to learn about our natural environment, but our modern lives stifle that urge in many ways. The desire to explore and understand nature is always there, but sometimes we need a guide to remind us how," Irwin said. "There are numerous studies about the psychological and health benefits of spending time in nature. Luckily, our naturalists never need to tear people away from their phone or tablets. Once we're in the woods, no one misses their devices."

Walking Mountains Science Center has a three-way partnership to provide environmental education opportunities to guests on Vail Mountain. "Not a lot of people know that Vail Mountain, and most Colorado ski resorts, operate on National Forest land. This land belongs to all Americans," said Irwin. Walking Mountains manages the Nature Discovery Center and its free programming, and in turn, Vail Resorts and the USDA Forest Service (Holy Cross Ranger District) provide funding and housing for Walking Mountains' naturalists.

Please come prepared to spend an hour outside in the winter environment with snow pants, warm hats, gloves and sturdy boots. Snowshoes are provided. Ages 10 and up are welcome. Tours are a 2 p.m. daily, and an evening tour is available at 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Registration is required. Please visit http://www.walkingmountains.org for more info.