Sheba, a local dog, enjoys the trail, leash free, with a Boulder County Voice and Sight Tag                                                                                                          Photo Credit: Julia DeBell

It’s summer! Time to lace up those hiking boots, grab a trail map, and head outdoors. Boulder’s beautiful open space is the reason many of us gravitate here. This season, exercise your responsibility on the trails and help keep the wilderness around for all of us to enjoy.


If you consider yourself a wild soul, I can understand the temptation to step off trail and forge your own way. While this gung-ho exploration may feed your inner Zebulon Pike, it’s pretty rough on your surroundings. Trails are designed to minimize our impact on nature. They make sure erosion is kept to a minimum, that plants have a chance to flourish, and that the wilderness stays in its generally untamed state. If the trail is muddy, try your best to stick to the path. Any expansion of the trail causes damage to the environment and may result in a trail closing to allow for restoration. Bottom line, leave no trace.


It’s true, our four legged and furry friends make the best hiking buddies. As their best friend, it is your responsibility to make sure they and their environment stays safe. Boulder parks and open space has a lengthy list of regulations when it comes to dogs on trails. In all areas, dogs are required to be on a leash. If you feel like your pet can handle it, that is if they are under your voice control at all times and unlikely to go bounding off after a squirrel, you can apply for a voice and sight tag. These tags, which require the attendance of a class, will allow your companion to explore with you, sans leash, in designated areas. Check for more information on bringing your buddy along for the hike.


There’s a saying that’s well known within the outdoor enthusiast community. Pack it in, pack it out. If you’re enjoying a sweet, carbohydrate-filled reward on the summit of Bear Peak, make sure you stuff those granola bar wrappers back into you pack. If you choose to bring your dog with you on an adventure, bring bags with you and be prepared to carry them out. Getting into the picnic spirit? Go glass free! Opt instead for cans or plastic bottles. Nobody wants to skirt around shards of glass as they’re huffing and puffing up a trail. If you’re feeling especially generous, feel free to pick up other people’s waste. If not, at least pack out your own.


Whether you’re a hiker, a biker, a runner, or even a horseback rider it’s important to know when you should yield to others. In general, pedestrians have the right of way. While the rules are slightly more complicated than this, it is a simple way to make sure that everyone can safely enjoy the trail together.

Pro-tip: Want to become a steward of our natural environment? Volunteer with Boulder Parks and Open Space!