Respect the Trails and Fellow Hikers

Durango, Colorado has an extensive system of trails that offers stunning views of the La Plata Mountains, the Animas River, and the City of Durango. Sometimes these beautiful views can distract you from the Durango trail etiquette that every hiker must follow. 

Knowing how to navigate the trails in Durango safely and responsibly ensures you have a good time while exploring the beauty of Durango.

Stay on Designated Trails

Mountain Biking in the Twin Buttes Area During Fall

Preserve Durango's Natural Beauty

Keep it pretty for everyone!

I know when hiking in Durango it can be tempting to walk off the dirt trail,  pick that wildflower, or take a photo of the gorgeous blooming cactus. But staying on the trail is super important for both your safety and the environment. Trails are like nature’s guideposts, keeping you on a safe path and away from hazards like wobbly ground or sensitive wildlife spots.

Plus, sticking to the trail helps protect plants and soil, which are easily damaged and slow to recover. It also means you won't accidentally disturb any critters. So, by staying on the marked trails, you’re helping to keep nature beautiful and healthy for everyone to enjoy. 

Pack Out Your Trash

Packing out your trash is super important for keeping nature beautiful. Always bring a bag to collect your waste and take it with you when you leave. Leaving no trash helps protect wildlife and keeps the environment clean. No one wants to see a crumpled granola bar wrapper when they're trying to hike to the top of Animas Mountain. If you see trash, be a good hiker and pick it up. The earth will thank you!

Yield Appropriately

Horseback Riding at Bears Ranch During Summer

Sharing the Trail Courteously

Sharing the trail courteously makes hiking more enjoyable for everyone. The norms of hiking etiquette are that those going uphill have the right of way since they’re working hard to keep their momentum going. When biking, slow down and give a friendly heads-up when passing others. Keep your group size manageable and stay to the right to let faster hikers pass easily. It's okay to take a break; sit down and grab a drink of water. This lets that quick trail runner get by and gives you a chance to take in the view around you. 

Keeping noise down ensures everyone, including wildlife, can soak in the peaceful surroundings. Leave your JBL speaker at home and instead enjoy the sound of the birds or the running stream nearby. 

If you bring your furry friend, keep them on a leash and clean up after them to keep the trail clean for everyone. Some trails will have bags that you can use to clean up your doggies doo doo. Not all will have some, so be sure to grab them on your way out to the trailhead. 

By being considerate and following these simple trail etiquette tips, we can all have a fantastic time enjoying nature together. Say hi to those you see on the hike, even on the uphill if you are smiling those around you will smile too. 

Respect Wildlife and Nature

Silvery Lupine Wildflowers in Durango, Colorado

Minimize Your Impact

Minimizing your impact in the outdoors is all about showing respect for nature while enjoying its beauty. Follow outdoor ethics like sticking to designated trails and campsites to avoid trampling fragile plants and disturbing wildlife habitats. Pack out everything you bring in, including food scraps and biodegradable items.

When nature calls, do your business at least 200 feet away from water sources and bury human waste properly. Always observe wildlife from a distance to avoid causing them stress, and never feed them—this disrupts their natural behaviors. 

If the trail is muddy, turn around. When you hike or bike on muddy trails it ruins the trail and your boots! By remaining off muddy trails it ensures trail conservation and reduces damage to the trail.

By following these simple guidelines, we can ensure that our outdoor adventures leave no trace and protect the environment for future generations of hikers, campers, and nature lovers to enjoy. 

Be Prepared

Hiking in the Lemon Reservoir Area During Fall

Essential Gear for Hiking in Durango

Hiking in Durango, Colorado, is an amazing adventure, but having the right gear can make all the difference. The night before, create a hiking gear checklist to ensure you don’t forget anything. Start with comfy hiking boots that support your feet and are already broken in to avoid blisters. Maybe consider hiking poles, they help you on the hike uphill and can support your knees when coming down. Layer up with clothes so you can adjust to the changing weather—think moisture-wicking shirts and a warm fleece. During summer it tends to rain in the afternoon so make sure you pack that rain jacket. A hat and sunglasses protect you from the strong mountain sun. I don’t want you to get burnt, so make sure you wear that sunscreen. No one wants to be baking like a hot dog over a fire while hiking in Horse Gulch. 

Bring a good backpack to carry essentials like a:

  • Map

  • High energy snacks 

  • A first aid kit 

  • Plenty of water

  • Bear spray

With this gear, you’ll be ready to enjoy the stunning trails around Durango safely and comfortably.

Leave No Trace

dog on leash wearing vest shakes a ziplock bag in its mouth

Principles for Outdoor Ethics

Leave No Trace principles are all about enjoying the outdoors responsibly to preserve its beauty and keep it safe for everyone. Start by planning—know the rules and weather conditions before you go. Practice the trail etiquette tips provided in this article. Leave things like rocks and plants where you found them to keep nature intact. Respect wildlife by giving them space and not feeding them. 

Following these principles ensures that our outdoor spaces stay clean and beautiful for everyone to enjoy. It's about leaving nature as we found it, so others can experience the same awe-inspiring landscapes and wildlife.


Enjoy Durango's Trails Responsibly

Now you are prepared to get out and explore the gorgeous trails that Durango, Colorado has to offer. From Hogsback Trail to Horse Gulch, there is so much fun to be had in Durango. Be a responsible hiker by following the Leave No Trace principles and sharing the trail. Don’t forget to pack all the needed essentials and most of all do your best to keep Durango’s trails beautiful for future hikers. 

Stay safe out there and have fun!