Woman on forest trail PeteSherrard (iStock)

Photo Credit: PeteSherrard (iStock).

As one is exploring the outdoors, trail safety should be at top of mind. While human attacks on most Colorado trails are quite rare, it's important to know what can help prevent one from happening. 

Here are a few quick safety tips:

1. Avoid hiking alone

Hiking with a buddy is an easy way to deter would-be assailants. Remember – strength in numbers.

2. Hike during busier times

While hiking on a crowded trail can be a drag, having more people around could limit the risk of an attack. Avoiding early morning and late day hikes can help you avoid hiking in an isolated situation.

3. Avoid using headphones

Blasting music or a podcast through your headphones can limit your awareness of what's going on around you. Keep your ears open to send a signal to a would-be attacker that you're able to fully hear them coming.

4. Carry an emergency signaling device

Consider carrying a GPS device that lets you report an emergency situation. Reporting a dangerous situation quickly and accurately is important for search and rescue crews that may be needed.

5. Bring a hiking whistle

By carrying a loud whistle, you're able to quickly and efficiently alert those in the area to a dangerous situation that's unfolding. Many hikers prefer to keep their whistle around their neck for easy access.

6. Learn self-defense

Take a few self-defense classes at a local martial arts studio to learn a few basic techniques. These skills can be crucial to stopping an attack and escaping the situation safely.

7. Know the trail

Research a trail beforehand and consult others that have been along the route. This will often tip you off to general sketchiness or other hazards that may be present.

8. Consider bringing pepper spray

Not only can pepper spray be used to prevent an animal attack, it can also be used to ward off dangerous humans. Obviously, pepper spray should only be used in the most dire of situations when using it is legal. It's also a smart idea to practice using the pepper spray on a mock target prior to carrying it so that one knows how to use it and what the experience of using it is like.

9. Wear proper gear

Proper gear will allow you to keep moving regardless of inclement weather that rolls through. Don't put yourself at a disadvantage by wearing shoes that are hard to walk or run in if things get muddy.

10. Tell a friend where you're headed

Whether you're hiking alone or with someone else, a trusted individual that's not there should know where you're headed and when you're expecting to be back. This will allow them to alert authorities in a timely manner if you don't return.

11. Pay attention to your surroundings

It can be easy to get lost in the moment of enjoying a natural scene, but remember to stay alert and aware of your surroundings. Take note of people that might be following you and other occurrences that just seem a bit off.

12. Put that canine to use

If you've got a dog, bring it on the hike as a safety measure when you can. Dogs are often a deterrence for crime when they're large enough to protect their handlers if need be.

Director of Content and Operations

Spencer McKee manages the OutThere Colorado digital publication as the Director of Content and Operations. He also writes about outdoor recreation, travel news, and more. In his spare time, he loves to rock climb, trail run, and mountain bike.


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(1) comment


Train and carry a gun. All the rest of those rules are just relying on hope.

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