During the 2023 hiking season, it is highly unlikely you will encounter wolves because there is only one documented pack in the state. This pack is over 200 miles north of the start of the Trail in Waterton Canyon.
Beyond 2023, it is possible for Colorado Trail users to see wolves after they are reintroduced near Summit and Pitkin counties in northern Colorado.
Here is the most recent map from Colorado Parks and Wildlife showing where wolves will be reintroduced at the end of 2023.
Once wolves are reintroduced into Colorado, here are some things you should know:
Wolves instinctively avoid humans, and wolf attacks are the rarest of all large predator attacks. The chances of seeing wolves in the wild are small, but if you are alert, tracks and other signs of wolves give clues to their presence. With all wild animals, do not feed or entice them, do not approach or harass them, respect their habitat, and use common sense.
In the case of a close encounter with a wolf, people should do the following:
- Stay calm and do not run.
- Stand tall and make yourself look larger.
- Slowly back away and maintain eye contact.
- Keep dogs on leash. Keep small children close to you.
- If there are signs of wolves, hike/camp in a group.
- If the wolf does not retreat and is acting aggressive by holding its tail high, raising its hackles, barking, or howling, you should yell and throw things at it while continuing to back away. If it attacks, fight back aggressively to show you are too dangerous to attack.
- As soon as you can, notify authorities about the encounter.
If you are traveling the Colorado Trail with a dog, take additional precautions.
- Keep an eye on your pet, especially at dawn and dusk.
- Don’t leave dogs outside in an unprotected environment overnight.
- Don’t leave dog food outside.
- Control the dog so it stays close to you, which helps wolves associate it with a human.
- Leash the dog if wolves or fresh signs of any animal are seen.
- If a dog is about to encounter a wolf, the dog should be brought to heel at the owner’s side as quickly as possible. Standing between the dog and the wolf often ends the encounter. To avoid risk of injury to yourself, do not attempt to break up a physical fight between a wolf and a dog except by using bear spray.
For more information about Wolves in Colorado, see these articles.