Summer 2020 Hiking Tips

Richard Campbell |

Trail Safety in the Time of Covid-19

Trail safety usually refers to things like carrying a well-stocked first aid kit, packing plenty of water, and making sure someone knows your planned route before starting out. Thanks to Covid-19, the 2020 summer hiking season has a new set of safety challenges for hikers.

The grand re-opening is underway. Hikers can do their part to protect themselves and others by following these common-sense tips based on the social distancing recommendations that have sadly, become so familiar.

PHOTO BY RICHARD CAMPBELL – forest views during Ouzel Falls hike

Choose your trail carefully. Always make sure that a trail is a good match for your skills and fitness. Emergency response and medical services are already stretched thin so this is not the time to push your limits and risk injury. Avoid the most popular trails to help reduce congestion and have a back-up or two in mind in case the trail seems crowded when you arrive at the trailhead. For hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park be sure to check the modified schedule for hiker shuttles and note that the shuttle from the Estes Park Visitor Center is currently not operating.

Avoid crowds by starting early or later in the day. Get your hike in early before most other hikers are out or wait until late afternoon and hit the trail just as most others are calling it a day. As an added bonus, your chances of spotting wildlife are better during these times.

PHOTO BY RICHARD CAMPBELL – a man wearing a bandana on his face while hiking

Carry a mask and wear it when approaching other groups. If hiking alone or with other members of your household, it is not necessary to wear a mask throughout your hike. However, you should have one easily accessible and wear it when approaching or passing other hikers on the trail. And note that face coverings are required to ride hiker shuttles within Rocky Mountain National Park.

Communicate clearly with others. Keep your distance from other hikers and communicate clearly if you would like to pass. If someone behind you asks to pass, find a wide section of trail and stand as far as you can to the side (single-file if hiking in a group) to allow them to pass respecting the six-foot distance guidelines if at all possible.

PHOTO BY RICHARD CAMPBELL – Gem Lake View from the east

Take breaks where the trail is widest. Don’t stop for water or snack breaks in narrow stretches of trail that would force fellow hikers to pass within six feet of you in order to continue hiking. Put your mask on when passing a group that’s taking a break as they will not be wearing masks while eating and drinking.

Pack well and be prepared. In addition to your mask and first aid kit, be sure to carry personal necessities such as hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Restroom facilities may not yet be open or fully maintained. Use sanitizer after removing your mask since washing your hands well each time is impossible along the trail.


After a long season of stay-at-home orders, it’s worth a little extra effort to hit the trail and get back to exploring the spectacular Rocky Mountains and the many other attractive outdoor areas throughout Northern Colorado. Stay safe and healthy on the trails this summer!

Richard Campbell has over 20 years of experience with hiking and adventure travel that has taken him all over the world, but he is most at home on his favorite trails in the Rocky Mountains. He is the founder of, a website offering trail guides and adventure tours to help everyone spend more time outdoors. To find out about some great hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, check out this link:

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