Trails and Hikes
Eagles Nest Wilderness comprises some of the most rugged and beautiful mountains in Colorado. Located barely fifty miles from more than three million people, it is at considerable risk of being "loved to death." It seems paradoxical, but this rugged land is also fragile. At such high altitude it cannot easily sustain itself, having to repair the impact of tens of thousands of visitors every summer. It needs help. To succeed in preserving its pristine character, our best hope is to embrace principles of Leave No Trace. Here is a simple mnemonic to help you remember the seven Leave No Trace principles (rollover for details):
Future… Footing… Filth… Flora… Fire… Fauna… Friends
FUTURE: Plan Ahead and Prepare. Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit. Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies. Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use. Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups. Repackage food to minimize waste. Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
FOOTING: Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces. Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow. Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams. Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary. In popular areas: Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites; walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy; keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent. In pristine areas: Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails; avoid places where impacts are just beginning
FILTH: Dispose of Waste Properly. Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter. Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished. Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products. To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
FLORA: Leave What You Find. Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them. Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
FIRE: Minimize Campfire Impacts. Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light. Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires. Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand. Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes. FAUNA: Respect Wildlife. Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them. Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers. Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely. Control pets at all times, or leave them at home. Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
FRIENDS: Be Considerate of Other Visitors. Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience. Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail. Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock. Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors. Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
Campsites, especially campfire rings, are a focus of leave no trace attention. While a crackling campfire is an iconic image of a wilderness experience, the residue left behind creates a significant negative impact for those who follow. As Congress stated, a wilderness is a place "...where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor..." Please: leave Eagles Nest Wilderness untrammeled. Consider foregoing campfires on your next trip. The US Forest Service has a really difficult charge - maintain the land in a pristine state, while providing appropriate recreational opportunities for the public, and do it with a very limited budget. Enter ESWA (originally FENW). Since 1994, we have partnered with the USFS to assist them by organizing several volunteer activities - helping to maintain trails, to work with the public, and to restore the wild. If you are interested in participating, click one of the "Volunteer" tabs above to learn more.
Nine trail heads (blue numbers) offer Twenty different hikes in Eagles Nest Wilderness (right)
HIKES IN PTARMIGAN PEAK and HOLY CROSS? Under construction…