November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
bear bagging on the colorado trail
Display Avatars Sort By:
ross erickson
(themaestro) - F

Locale: colorado
bear bagging on the colorado trail on 04/08/2010 12:50:05 MDT Print View

hello all! i will be thru hiking the colorado trail and need some advise from the experts. last summer while hiking a section of the trail, my fiance katelyn and i ran into quite a few hikers who didnt bear bag. there excuse "all the bears are near the towns, not the trail" and some old timers with the CT trail crews say they have only seen 1 bear in the 20 year working with the trail. regardless of what they may have said we still hung our food every night.

so i ask you guys, do i really need to hang my food?

Drew Smith
(Drewsmith) - M

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: bear bagging on the colorado trail on 04/08/2010 19:47:41 MDT Print View

I do, but your informants are correct. In 25 years of backpacking in CO I have seen exactly one bear - in Dowdy Draw, 2 miles outside the Boulder city limits. That doesn't mean they haven't seen me, however. The odds are with you if you don't - it's just a question of how bummed you would be to lose your food, even if there's only a 1% chance.

Chris Gray
(ChrisFol) - F

Locale: Denver, Coloado
Re: bear bagging on the colorado trail on 04/08/2010 21:44:42 MDT Print View

I am another one who doesn't bear bag. I have been hiking in CO for many years and haven't seen a single bear and my father-in-law, who has been hiking the backcountry since he was a boy doesn't either.

Make of that what you will.

I do however use OPSaks which are odor proof bags for my food, which I then throw into my food sack. Sometimes I will hang the sack if I feel the need.

Another point to make is that part of the CT is above treeline and this makes standard food-protection troublesome.

ross erickson
(themaestro) - F

Locale: colorado
bear bagging on 04/08/2010 22:41:55 MDT Print View

thanks for the advice guys. an odor proof liner would make my sleep a little better at night!

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: bear bagging on 04/09/2010 09:24:47 MDT Print View

I've seen multiple bears on the CT and surrounding areas. They are definitely out there. However they all run away quickly when they hear you.

I've always slept with my food out there and been fine. OP sacks and not cooking where you sleep are a good idea.

I never do this if near a town however, those bears know about people food and will come raiding for sure. Also in RMNP the bear canisters are now required due to bears learning how to get people food and the generally large crowds in the park. In remote areas like most of the CT I don't think bears are a large problem. It's also pretty easy to bring a light hang cord and use it if necessary or an easy hanging situation is available.

Watch out for Marmots. Those things will chew anything!

Tim Heckel
(ThinAir) - M

Locale: 6237' - Manitou Springs
Lil Critters on 04/12/2010 12:42:28 MDT Print View

I've certainly seen bears here in Colorado, mostly in my front yard, but in the wild too. We saw 7 bears in one morning whilst climbing Culebra peak. They have always left me alone.
IMHO the greater danger is from other critters. I've had mice, marmots, and even a mule get into my food stash. Sometimes I'll hang my food just so those little buggers don't keep me awake and defending my food all night.
And its not just food. Keep your shoes, pack, and poles in a protected place as well. They'll chew those up.
As others have pointed out, these are usually only issues in highly frequented campsites.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Lil Critters on 04/12/2010 13:06:02 MDT Print View

Marmots are particularly bad for eating stuff. I had a perfectly good backpack with a large leather patch where the shoulder straps joined to the pack bag. The marmot ate every speck of the leather and left the nylon stitching intact.

They like leather and rubber, and anything that has sweat/salt on it.

If necessary, they will chew through a nylon tent to find food inside. Then they crap all over the floor. It's ugly.


ross erickson
(themaestro) - F

Locale: colorado
little critters on 04/13/2010 10:26:18 MDT Print View

any of those little furry animals snuggle with you in the middle of the night? i dont know how id feel about waking up with a marmot spooning me...haha

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: little critters on 04/13/2010 13:27:05 MDT Print View

In general, marmots don't want to get very close to a human. The exception is when there is food.

I had hiked up to a summit in Yosemite National Park, so I set my lightweight aluminum lunch box down on a granite rock so that I could shoot some photos. As I sat there, I heard a slight noise of aluminum scraping on granite, so I looked around and saw nothing. I stared out at the view and heard the same scraping noise again, so I looked around again and saw nothing. Then I looked harder and saw a tiny marmot paw extended up from a narrow fissure in the rock. The marmot had been trying to drag my lunch box into his rocky lair. It wouldn't come close to me after that.

David T
(DaveT) - F
CT food on 04/13/2010 13:57:13 MDT Print View

I did 14 days and 350+ miles on the CT a coupla years ago, and slept with my food in silnylon stuff sacks in my pack every day. No bear, mice, etc. problems. Campsites were always very random spots found at the end of long days.

Ted E
(Mtn_nut) - MLife

Locale: Morrison, CO
Re: bear bagging on the colorado trail on 04/13/2010 14:12:41 MDT Print View

im doing a thru hike of the CT this summer. im bringing a ursack and 1-2 big opsacks to stick all the food in. The way i figure it, bears and other predators might be a slight danger, but birds and rodents will steal food and can ruin a trip.

Edited by Mtn_nut on 04/13/2010 14:13:12 MDT.

Wes Jones
(jwoenses) - F
Bear Bagging on 04/25/2010 01:24:53 MDT Print View

I haven't hiked along the Colorado Trail, but have done numerous backpacking adventures throughout Lost Creek. I've never used bear bags or canisters, and haven't had an issue so far. Neither bear nor critter has disturbed my food. With that being said, I will begin using the ursack on my next trip. Even though I've never had a bad experience, or for that matter never seen a bear, I know they are around. I lived in Fairplay for a couple of years, and constantly had bears knocking over my garbage outside trying to reach those tasty remains. SO I know they are around that area.

I would just play it safe and hang food. When are you planning on tackling the CT? And where are you going to start? I'm hoping to make an early trip, May 8th, and get through the first 3 segments. Hopefully the weather permits.

ross erickson
(themaestro) - F

Locale: colorado
the colorado trail on 04/26/2010 15:31:07 MDT Print View

i will start my thru hike in september. i know its a little late into the season but the timing for me is great. i plan on spending the summer hiking areas all around colorado including taking small trips on sections of the CT, kinda scoping out certain areas. im still not sure which direction i wanna hike the trail. id like to start in durango. tackle the san juans and other big sections before the big snows come. i think i would also hike a little differently, hiking home to my fiance waiting for me. but a part of me wants to start in denver getting the grand views gradually. what would you recommend?

Wes Jones
(jwoenses) - F
Denver or Durango? on 04/26/2010 17:04:32 MDT Print View

September should definitely supply you with cooler weather, that's always a plus. As far as recommendations go on your starting point, it's really just up to a personal choice. The benefit of starting in Denver is getting acclimated to the higher altitude along the way. And of course like you pointed out, the scenery would definitely get better along the way if you started in Denver. Since I haven't hiked much of the Colorado Trail it's hard to give much advice.

Part of me thinks that if you are starting in September and planning on thru-hiking the trail, you could be better off starting in Durango. The weather could turn a little dicey if you started in Denver, and took a considerable amount of time finishing. Those are my thoughts.

John Addleman
(Jaddleman) - F

Locale: Boulder
Good luck on 04/27/2010 00:04:18 MDT Print View

I'm going late June. I plan to use an OPsak and sometimes a light hang. Good luck to both of you. Don't underestimate the weather, this last snow season started in October at less than half the elevation. Let me know if you trailjournal.