Hiking Tips

How To Aspen Guides

Hiking Best Practices

Whether you are taking a quick 45-minute hike up Smuggler or spending the day on the trails in the Castle Creek Valley, there are a few things every hiker should know, do and prepare for. 

Basic Hiking Tips from Locals:

  • Plan ahead and prepare. 
  • If there has been heavy rain, and the trail is wet, please let it completely dry before heading out. Muddy footprints damage trails, most of which are maintained by hand. 
  • Keep the cell phone in your backpack, and refrain from taking calls on a trail or playing music on the speaker without a headset. 
  • Who gets the right of way? Uphill hikers have the right of way over other hikers. Hikers have the right of way over bikers, and equestrians have right of way past both hikers and cyclists. Be sure to yield when traveling downhill and to people on horseback. 
  • Pack out your trash. 
  • Park only in designated parking areas. 
  • Stay on the trail to avoid damaging vegetation.
  • Stay out of wildlife closure areas and other areas closed to the public. 
  • Follow the Leave No Trace Seven Principals 
    • Plan ahead and prepare
    • Travel and camp on durable surfaces
    • Dispose of waste properly
    • Leave what you find
    • Minimize campfire impacts
    • Respect wildlife
    • Be considerate of other visitors 


Before You Go:

  • Know where you’re going. There are millions of acres surrounding Aspen and it’s easy to take a wrong turn towards the middle of nowhere. 
  • Always bring a map (a physical map is best – phone batteries die!).
  • Buy an annual Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue Card (CORSAR) card at several locations in Aspen, including the Ute Mountaineer, Carl’s Pharmacy, or online. The purchase helps county sheriffs and SAR teams cover expenses, in case you are in need of emergency medical services or evacuation.
  • Leave a note in your car with details of your destination and the date of your return.
  • Take the ColoReady Test from the Colorado Tourism Office. 



  • Water is the key ingredient to acclimating and keeping you powered for the adventure ahead. 
  • Fill your water bottles to the brim even for short trips, and if you’ll be on the trail for a while, bring iodine pills or a water filter to replenish your supply. 
  • Along with water, bring enough food for the duration of your hike, and then some. If you find you’ve made a wrong turn, you’ll be hydrated and fed.


What to Bring:

  • Dress for the worst-case scenario. Starting out for a hike on a bluebird Colorado day can quickly shift to rain, lightning, and yes, even snow at higher elevations. 
  • Stick extra layers and socks in your daypack and be ready to shelter overnight if needed.
  • Pack a day pack with sunscreen, bandages, a cell phone, and, for longer distances, a satellite phone that can alert Mountain Rescue Aspen to any trouble. 
  • If you’re biking don’t forget to bring a multi-tool, spare tires, and a small pump, if needed. Not even in Aspen will someone come out on the trail and change a flat tire for you. 
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