by Fletcher McDonald

The Trailhead is a multipart series on hiking from beginner to intermediate and focuses on preparation, sharing experiences, and enjoying the outdoors. 

See the other articles below:
#1: Starting Somehow, Somewhere
#2: Beginning to Intermediate
#3: Buying Hiking Boots
#4: Going the Distance
#5: 14,000 Feet Above the Sea

So you’ve hiked before (once! Or even twice!) and you liked it. Most people do. There’s a bit more to it than just planning a route and taking some food though, and if you plan on hiking for a long time then there are a few things to consider.

When you’re hiking, you are vulnerable to exposure and the elements; in other words, you need to be aware of the weather and even the time of the day. Proper planning and foresight will make sure you have a good, and not uncomfortable, time.

Planning

So you’ve found some great hikes on instagram and alltrails.com; a few questions then.

How long are they? What kind of difficulty? What kind of weather?

Don’t hike longer than you’d care to. By this I mean, if you haven’t hiked five miles in a day before, don’t pick a ten mile hike.

IMG_3725
From the watchtower at Mount Falcon Park. You can see Downtown Denver in the distance.
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Danger, Billiam Robertson.

Difficulty means a few things. Is there a clear trail? You probably should stick to well known trails, at least starting out. Is there elevation gain? If the entire hike is uphill, that’s going to be… well, difficult. Is there a lot of crazy, wickedly cool terrain that you’ve never seen before?

Take it easy, you’ll get there. I’d definitely recommend something a little more intermediate, unless it’s easily accessible by road. A good rule of thumb is that if it’s accessible by paved road, a lot of people have been there and it’s not too hard for you right now.

Weather is always going to be dictated by the season, but if you can wait a day and get ideal conditions, why not? Walking outside in a thunderstorm above the treeline is not ideal. In fact, don’t.

Regardless of whether it rains, storms, you’ll want to go early. The sun is at its hottest (and sunburn most likely) in the early afternoon; if you hike early, finish early, leave early, you won’t get sunburned, sweat tons, need more water, take more breaks, need to take more water and food, and overall, you will have a better time.

Also, if you arrive early and it’s a popular hike, you won’t have to fight traffic or worry about finding parking (for some of the more popular hikes).

Now, to the good part.

The Hike

Where: Mount Falcon Park in Jefferson County, Colorado.

 

Mount Falcon Park Map
A map of Mount Falcon Park, from the Jefferson County website. Also, here’s a PDF.

I recommend the West Trailhead followed by the Parmalee Trail, which loops around and features good elevation loss and gain then ends at the meadow. Nearby, the tower trail features a lookout tower, and Walker’s Dream and Two-Dog trail both feature lookouts with good view, the latter looking out towards Downtown Denver.

Make sure you get an early start, bring water and a snack. I hope you enjoy!

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This pup is the real MVP – most valuest #puppers.

Best,
Fletch
Alleged Dogfather

The Trailhead is a multipart series on hiking from beginner to intermediate and focuses on preparation, sharing experiences, and enjoying the outdoors. 

See the other articles below:
#1: Starting Somehow, Somewhere
#2: Beginning to Intermediate
#3: Buying Hiking Boots
#4: Going the Distance
#5: 14,000 Feet Above the Sea

References

“Mount Falcon Park.” Elevation Certificates | Jefferson County, CO, http://www.jeffco.us/1332/Mount-Falcon-Park.
“Best Trails in Mount Falcon Park.” AllTrails.com, 6 Aug. 2018, http://www.alltrails.com/parks/us/colorado/mount-falcon-park.

 

 

 

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