Mesa Verde Country® has some of the most beautiful and least used hiking trails in Colorado! Conditions can vary due to flooding, landslides or other natural causes, so be sure to check the weather forecast and prevailing conditions with local offices of the land management agencies before beginning your hike.
Most of the trails here are quite long, requiring several days to hike the full trail length, but you can use as little or as much of the trails as you want. There are also many other hiking trails in the area.
HIKING IN THE ROCKIES
It can be a different experience for hikers used to other climates. There are a few special precautions you need to take to make sure your hike is an unforgettable and enjoyable one.
HIGH ALTITUDE AWARENESS
- These hikes range from 5,000 feet to over 12,000 feet in elevation. Many people can have symptoms of high altitude sickness even at the lowest of these elevation. The most common of the symptoms is a headache. This can be followed by nausea, vomiting, disorientation and loss of consciousness. In severe cases, the victim can die. There is a simple remedy: get to a lower altitude as quickly as possible. Most people can avoid symptoms by allowing themselves two days of relative inaction to acclimatize.
- "One minute sunshine, the next a blizzard," is an often-heard description of our mountain areas, even in summer. The best advice is to pay strict attention to the weather forecast, and be prepared for extreme changes in weather. One of the greatest dangers in high-altitude hiking is the thunderstorm that can build up at a moment's notice. If you are caught in one, abandon high ground as quickly as possible to avoid lightning. Do not camp in streambeds or low lying areas since they are prone to flash flooding. Flash floods can originate miles from the scene of their greatest destruction-don't assume if it isn't raining where you are then there is no chance of flooding.
Take proper precautions and inquire about local conditions before setting out on a hike or backpacking trip in Mesa Verde Country®
DON'T DRINK THE WATER
- Giardiasis, a virulent amoebic dysentery, occurs in all open waters in the state. It causes extreme intestinal discomfort, diarrhea and subsequent dehydration, and often requires hospitalization for treatment. Do not drink untreated water. Boiling the water for several minutes will kill the organisms. Alternately, use a chemical water purification tablet or liquid. Do not take water from streams that have oddly colored (red and yellow) steambeds. These streams are often contaminated by naturally occurring mercury and lead and other heavy metals.
ABOVE ALL -- ENJOY!
These few precautions will help you avoid most problems on your hike, letting you truly enjoy the wonderful experience of hiking in Mesa Verde Country®.
The information in this section is intended to help you choose a hike that is appropriate for your skill level, your desire for different types of scenery, and the amount of time and ambition you have available to hike. It should not replace detailed maps and up-to-the-minute local information. For the most up-to-date information on these and other public hiking trails in the area, contact the appropriate land management agency.