The State of Colorado is home to several hiking trails that will leave you in absolute awe—prepping for a hike up the San Juan Mountains or Spring Creek? Don’t let your energy levels plummet halfway. It might not be as intriguing perhaps as hiking in Italy, but it’s still extremely special.
However, embarking on these trails requires some serious thinking through and preparations. Don’t just pack a sandwich and call it a day. We’re talking actual high-calorie food items to keep you going till the end.
In this article, we will discuss some of the best foods and snacks to take along as readily available sources of energy. So, fasten your shoelaces and prepare for a gastronomic adventure on the trails.
Understanding the Importance of Nutrition While Hiking
If you plan to walk it like you talk it on the hikes, you need to fuel up right. You can’t just eat biscuits and expect your muscles to do the samba up the mountain. Think of your body as a fire; to keep it going, you must fan it and feed it some quality firewood. The same goes for your body – hike in Colorado, or anywhere else, and you’ll be burning a lot of energy in no time. So, before you pack your aid kit and trekking poles for your adventure, get smarter about your grub. Remember, a well-fed hiker is a well-led hiker.
Trail Food and Snacks: Top High-Calorie Recommendations
Quinoa – a grain, a superfood, and a hiker’s best friend. Why is it so stellar, you ask? This little grain packs a punch in a small package. It’s a complete protein packed with all nine essential amino acids that your body can’t produce on its own. Plus, it’s lightweight, easy to cook, and you can mix it with almost anything.
Pack a bag of quinoa in your hiking gear. Your trail legs will thank you later.
You’ve seen those intimidating buff dudes at the gym, right? Well, they’re often munching on lean proteins to get all beefed up. For us hikers on the Colorado trails, we’ve got something arguably even tastier – Colorado Lambs. It’s not your everyday snack, but best believe it’s worth it. Think about this, right? You’re on the trail, you’ve sighted one of those adorable critters, and then for lunch, you enjoy a juicy lamb T-bone atop a light quinoa salad with a swirl of mint yogurt. Out in the wild, high-quality proteins are a blessing for muscle recovery. Plus, those flavors? It’s a culinary masterpiece stashed in your backpack.
Let’s shift gears here. You have proteins down, but where’s the fruit? Enter the Palisade Peaches. Now, you might be thinking, ‘Who hikes with a ripe, juicy peach in tow?’ Well, you do, buddy, if it’s a Palisade Peach. These peachy delights harvested across the river valleys of Colorado are as sweet as sugar syrup with a side benefit of hydration and a punch of Vitamin C to boot. Plus, nothing compares to the simple pleasure of biting into a fresh Palisade Peach with an outstanding view in front of you.
Rocky Mountain Oysters
The name is misleading – you won’t be slurping any briny seafood out here. Rocky Mountain Oysters are deep-fried bull testicles. Don’t start squirming now; it’s a local delicacy! Picture this: you’ve made a pitstop, and you’re munching on a hearty snack that’s got locals and tourists alike raving. Trust me, once you get past the “unique” source of the dish, it’s quite a treat. Plus, it’s about immersing yourself in the local culture, right? There are alternate routes to culinary adventures, and this one’s worth a shot.
Now, here’s a trusty old classic: the trail mix. Every hiker knows this blend of dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and sometimes chocolate, is a lifeline. This energy-dense, non-perishable snack is a direct inspiration from the Pemmican Concept by Native Americans. It’s a simple philosophy: mix protein with high-energy ingredients like fat and carbohydrates, and you have a meal that keeps you going.
Stash a bag of trail mix in your backpack and munch on a few handfuls. It’ll keep your energy levels steady, muscles fueled, and sweet cravings sorted with all those delicious, dried fruits and chocolate. Remember, we’re here for the long haul; nobody’s rushing to the finish line.
Granola and Energy Bars
Lastly, don’t forget granola and energy bars. Think of these guys as the more portable, less messy cousins of trail mix. They’re compact, they’re light, and they’re packed with nutrients. So, stash a few in your pocket, backpack, or boots if necessary! These bad boys are a quick energy source and often loaded with fiber, keeping your gut happy. And happy gut, happy hiker!
Elk or Bison or Venison Jerky
You’re not a bona fide Colorado hiker until you’ve chomped on some Elk, Bison, or Venison jerky. Like pepper spray or an aid kit, it’s one of those things you need in your backpack, only this one’s delicious! This variation of the all-time-loved jerky is high in protein and lightweight, making it perfect for hiking in places like the Rocky Mountains. There is no need to worry about getting hungry between trail mix and almond butter snacks. This Jerky seasoned with a bit of good Colorado passion will make you fall in love with every step you take on the trail.
The Extras That Enhance Your Hiking Experience
Think of your backpack as your surviving kit; you must have it all packed in there: essentials like sun protection, hiking shorts, bear spray, and even a fire starter; you never know when you need a quick warm-up near a beautiful spot. A good hiking backpack is like a reliable friend; it has your back, literally. Look for a backpack that’s comfortable, durable, and roomy enough to carry your hiking stuff.
Water or Drinks
If you’re thinking of conquering a hike, hydration is not negotiable! Save that Trader Joe’s almond butter for an energy boost, but remember, water is your best friend. The Colorado air, as pure and clean as it is, can be a tad dry, and hydration is key to keep you moving. A portable water filter is a good idea, and the options are fast, easy to carry, and won’t burn a hole in your pocket.
Tools and Apps for Navigation and Weather Check
Here’s the thing: your old-fashioned compass might do just fine, but a wrong turn can have you meeting a bear or a sudden storm, and let’s just say, they are not on your hiking guest list. You can download many top-rated apps for weather forecasts and navigation to ensure you’re on track and prepped for any weather. And remember, the weather up there in the Rockies is as unpredictable as last year’s football season. Be smart and check the weather before you lace up those trekking poles and grab those energy bars for the trek.
Exploring Noteworthy Hiking Spots in Colorado
Maroon Bells Hike
Your hike in Colorado isn’t complete without treading the Maroon Bells. This is a sight to behold—a pair of peaks that’ll leave you gawking like a tourist in Times Square. If you have the energy, leave the trail and try to reach the summit. Once you’re up there, the Rocky Mountain National Park spreads out before you like a patchwork quilt. Don’t forget your bear spray, though. This is bear country, and that spray isn’t for freshening the atmosphere. Better safe than sorry.
Emerald Lake Trail
If you are looking for beauty and tranquility all bundled in one, the Emerald Lake Trail is your go-to. Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountain National Park, this trail takes you through a scenic journey past three jaw-dropping alpine lakes. While you’re there, take a detour to Twin Lakes—it’s on the way and is prettier than a sunset on a ranch. After your hike, you could stop by Princeton Hot Springs and take a good soak. You’ve earned it. Just don’t forget the ice cream.
Alberta Falls Trail
This isn’t your typical walk in the woods—The Alberta Falls Trail offers a whopping waterfall that’ll have you wide-eyed in wonder. It’s situated near Bear Lake. You’ll be huffing along the Cochetopa Hills, but seeing that waterfall makes it worthwhile. Plenty of surrounding trails to choose from here—go nuts and explore. Don’t forget your bear spray and sun protection, though. Those bears are not as friendly as your neighbor’s dog nor the sun.
Manitou Incline Hike
For those looking for a real challenge, the Manitou Incline Hike tests your physical and mental stamina like nothing else. It’s a tough cookie, but the views from the top will make you forget your aching muscles. You’ll be rewarded with a view that’ll knock your hiking boots right off. Just remember, this trail isn’t for the faint-hearted. Keep that spirit high, the snacks handy, and the water bottle close.
Wrapping Up: Tips for First-Time Colorado Hikers
Just before you get ready to lace up those hiking boots and take on the Colorado trails, we have some tips for you. If you’re visiting or even moving to Colorado, you’ll have a great time as a hiker. But Colorado isn’t an easy stroll in the park, but with the right tips and tricks, you’ll be much closer to a successful and enjoyable adventure. Keep this advice handy; it’s worth its weight in dried fruit.
- Be ‘bear aware.’ Colorado’s wilderness is home to these furry fellas, so knowing how to handle encounters is crucial. Make loud noises if you see one, enjoy the view, but always maintain a safe distance.
- Look out for altitude sickness. This sneaky condition can creep up on even the most challenging hikers. It’s caused by the Colorado highland’s low oxygen levels, so take it easy when starting. If you’re feeling discomfort, aches, or dizziness, descend to lower altitudes pronto.
- Snack on high-calorie food items that are easy on the digestive system. Sweet potatoes are a great pick, as is beef jerky. “High calorie” doesn’t have to mean unhealthy. Proper nutritional balance is key to preventing fatigue and keeping you energetic on the trails.
- Consider a timed entry when visiting national and state parks — these places can get packed during the high season. Timed entry ensures you don’t have to battle the crowds, keeping the hiking experience enjoyable and relaxing.
As you go, remember that hiking is about more than just reaching the destination. It’s about enjoying the journey, relaxing in the heart of Mother Nature, and taking home memories that last a lifetime.