Although hiking and walking was originally frowned upon and seen as an indication of poverty prior to the 18th century, it is now viewed as an enjoyable pastime — and even a passion — for many. November 17th is National Take a Hike Day, meaning there is no better day to get out and take a hike! Not only is hiking great for your physical health, it also releases mood-boosting endorphins that can ward off anxiety and depression. Stepping into nature and disconnecting from the distractions of our daily life allows us to recharge, refocus, and reconnect with both ourselves and nature.

Our beautiful home state of Colorado has thousands of trail miles offering everything from leisurely strolls to trekking up one of the 50+ fourteeners. With so many different options to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. Thankfully, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has made it easier than ever to find a hike that fits your fitness level and preferences with CO Trex, a free map of managed trails throughout Colorado. CO Trex is the most comprehensive map of Colorado’s trails — from hiking trails to park paths. What’s really awesome about this map is that it not only lists the location of the trails, but it also gives useful details including trail length, difficulty level, elevation information, what is and is not allowed on the trail, if dogs are permitted, and even if the walking surface is dirt or paved. Whether you’re looking for a casual walk through the park or you’re ready to take on Mt. Elbert (Colorado’s tallest mountain and the second tallest mountain in the contiguous US), whichever hike you choose can reap benefits for you, your furry friend, and even the pets at RHHS! 

Bringing your dog along for the hike (or even your cat if they enjoy it!) not only gives you a loyal hiking partner to share in the experience, but it can also strengthen your bond and bring out the best in your dog both physically and mentally. Regular exercise like hiking provides your dog with an opportunity to experience the world and keeps both their mind and body fit. Many pet owners are surprised to find that destructive behaviors, depression, and boredom can all be alleviated by adding additional exercise to your dog’s routine. When a dog is bored or has too much energy penned up inside him, he’ll begin to look for ways to exert that extra energy — many times through undesirable behaviors like chewing things he shouldn’t or digging up the yard. Dogs need activity and exercise to stay healthy just like people do, so take them along for the hike!

We know exercise is beneficial to us and our pets, but how does taking a hike or even walking around town benefit the pets at RHHS? Thanks to the WoofTrax © app, any time you walk anywhere (not just hiking) you can use the app to track your walk to earn donations for RHHS. The more walks logged and the more walkers using the app, the more WoofTrax © is able to donate to shelter animals in need! All you have to do is turn on the WoofTrax © app before you start, take your walk or hike, then hit the finish button when you’re done to log your walk. The app then rewards donations to the shelter you’re walking for based on the number of walks and active walkers. To learn more about how the WoofTrax app works and how donations are made to a shelter, visit the WoofTrax FAQ page.

As with people, it is important to gradually introduce hiking or any other form of exercise to ensure your dog is in the proper condition for what you have planned. For more information on how much exercise your dog needs and tips on starting on an exercise regimen, talk with your vet and check out the ASPCA’s Fit Facts on Exercise and Dogs as well as AVMA’s guide to walking with your pet. Before taking your dog into the great outdoors, it’s a great idea to check out the AVMA’s guide to disease prevention for outdoor enthusiasts and their companions and their quick tips to help keep you and your pet safe while enjoying the outdoors. As always, be sure to check that your dog is wearing up-to-date identification such as tags and a microchip at all times, especially during walks and hikes. If you’d like to get your pet microchipped at one of our low-cost clinics, click here. We hope you and your dog have a safe and fun hike wherever it is you choose to go!