COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — November 17 is National Take a Hike Day and to celebrate, why not take a hike — a long hike? So long that you travel the circumference of planet Earth, and then most of the way back around again.
That’s the distance you could hike without ever leaving the trails of Colorado.
According to Colorado Trail Explorer (COTREX), a free Colorado trail map built by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Natural Atlas, this may be possible. Users can explore more than 45,000 miles of trails from across the state without taking a step.
The map includes everything from Duck Lake, a 7.3 mile trail in the Rio Grande National Forest described as “a fairly gentle walk that offers scenic vistas of the Conejos Valley” all the way up to the Gates of Lodore at the northern tip of Dinosaur National Monument, an easy loop whose, “remote country adds to its sense of isolation.”
“[Outdoor recreation] really has a tendency to improve one’s life all the way around,” said Spencer McKee, a member of the Board of Directors for the Colorado Springs-based outdoors non-profit UpaDowna.
McKee, along with UpaDowna’s executive director Christina Lorete, were at a bar near Downtown Colorado Springs coordinating the nonprofit’s latest installment of “Adventure on Tap,” an ongoing community speaker series that invites guest presenters to discuss environmental subjects. Described as a “community campfire,” the night’s conversation proved the perfect platform to prepare for the national hike holiday.
“Whether it’s helping [people] get more physically fit in a way that’s engaging or fun to do, or even just adding that sense of community to their life. That’s really important as well,” he said.
According to Lorete and UpaDowna, “cost, equipment, and experience” tend to be the largest limiting factors of those thinking about participating in many outdoor activities.
“Our whole mission is to get folks outdoors,” said Lorete. “So we provide free and donation-based outdoor adventures like hiking, climbing, biking, stand-up paddleboarding, and outdoor wellness.”
The evening’s “Adventure on Tap,” speaker was Kelsey Tungseth, who led a community campfire discussion around environmental connectedness. Tungseth founded her own company, Free Air Life, after studying in Oslo and diving deeper into her Norwegian roots.
“Free Air Life,” Tungseth said, “is translated from ‘Friluftsliv,’ a Norwegian philosophy that teaches spiritual and physical wellness through outdoor living.
“Friluftsliv is really about feeling connected to nature,” she said, “and it doesn’t have to be through mountain top experiences or extreme sports… just walking has a number of benefits.”
To encourage more Coloradans to head outside, UpaDowna’s next “Adventure on Tap” talk will focus on summiting a fourteener for the first time.
“There’s a whole range of ways to get involved in outdoor recreation,” McKee said. “And all of those have the potential to be a really beneficial thing in someone’s life.”