WeatherWeather Science


Hiking and climbing weather in spring in Colorado

Posted at 6:42 PM, Apr 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-17 21:27:46-04

With temperatures warming up, you may be looking to break out the hiking boots. But whether you're aiming for a walk through Cheyenne Canyon or attempting a 14er like I was on Tuesday, it's important to be prepared. Here's a picture I took on Columbia's ridgeline:

Several inches to a foot of wind-blown snow is still covering Mount Columbia's ridgeline
Several inches to a foot of wind-blown snow is still covering Mount Columbia's ridgeline

While - meanwhile - temperatures were in the 70s on the urban corridor. Even if you hike regularly, it's worth remembering that conditions change rapidly between the lower elevations and high elevations - particularly in April and May. On Tuesday I encountered strong winds (I actually had to lean into the wind to walk), bare rock, mud, pockets of deep snow, avalanche zones, and weather that changed from blue clear skies to a snow squall enveloping the mountain in the span of 6 hours!

So if you plan to hike this weekend, there are four essentials:

The four fundamental things you need to hike in spring in Colorado

Let's break this down.

We get wildly different weather in the mountains compared to the I-25 corridor, and it changes fast. A trail free of snow today, might be covered by a spring storm. It's not just the forecast for your hike day that matters - the days before and after matter as well because they determine your trail conditions. If your hike has a lot of elevation gain or loss, you should also check the Colorado Avalanche Information Center's forecast.

This is very important. Pack for the hike you're planning. A stroll around Garden of the Gods, a hike up Mount Cutler or the Incline, or a 14er.

  • Layering - light wicking base layer, insulating breathable mid layer, hard outer shell (for wind/rain/snow). You can add/remove layers as needed to regulate your temperature through the day.
  • Pack food, water, and sunscreen.
  • For anything above 10,000 feet, pack snow gear. If you don't already know what those things would be - don't go above treeline right now!


Any hiker on any terrain can still run into unexpected issues. I have - many times. When packing - consider what you'd need if you needed to spend a night outside. It is better to have more food and water than you need than not enough. This is also why it's important to pack layers and know the forecast. Tell friends and family where you're going, when you expect to return, and expect to not have cell service so pack basic emergency gear. A first aid kit and a whistle are good basics.

I've encountered many newer hikers on 14ers and even the incline who have run out of water, didn't pack food, didn't pack first aid gear - I even had to help someone on a trip in 2021 near Lake Como who was experiencing low blood sugar issues on a backpacking trip.

This may sound silly - but I have personally encountered this dozens of times on trails in Colorado. Hiking is hard, and there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Hikers have been hurt, or worse, because they weren't prepared for the conditions or terrain they faced. If this is your first hike this year, it's a good idea to build up gradually. If you don't have experience on snow - it is a good idea to wait a couple more months before attempting higher elevations.


Unsettled on Friday and Saturday - Sunday is a great hiking day in the Colorado Springs area

We're going to be unsettled both Friday and Saturday and the mountains will be favored spots for precipitation. Sunday though, looks great. Consider the effects of Friday/Saturday on trail conditions Sunday.

For the Incline:

Partly to mostly cloudy and cool - temps in the 40s/50s. You may encounter a bit of snow, particularly on the upper section depending on how Saturday shakes out.

And finally, for Quandary Peak:

Quandary peak - Sunny on Sunday, cold, and expect new snow up high following showers Friday and Saturday

New snow totals should be on the low side but you'll definitely want to check the CAIC forecast if you plan to attempt this or any other taller peak on Sunday to make sure avalanche risk is OK.

If you have any personal hiking stories you want to share with me, shoot me an email.

See ya out there!

Have a question or story idea you would like the First Alert 5 Weather team to consider? Email:

Watch KOAA News5 on your time, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Android TV. Just search KOAA News5, download and start watching.