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318 Walking Mountains Lane, Avon, CO 81620

Located at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola on Vail Mountain out of Lionshead Village, Vail. All visitors must have a pass to ride the gondola. Free and open to the public with valid gondola pass.
Nestled along Gore Creek near the Betty Ford Alpine Garden and Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail Village.
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Walking Mountains Blog

Lesson Plan (all ages): How to Identify Animal Prints and Track Patterns

Posted by Walking Mountains on Jun 27, 2011 9:56:09 AM
Walking Mountains

Free Family Lesson Plan to Identify Animal Tracks in NatureLooking for something to do with the kids this summer?  How about a lesson on animal prints and track patterns?  This is an activity-based learning experience that you can do right in your own backyard so get out there and have some fun!

Objective of Lesson
To understand how to identify animal prints and track patterns.

Age Group

30-60 minutes

Do we see a lot of animals when we are outside?  (No)

How do we know that they are out here? (We see signs of them)

What is some evidence that they are here?

  • browsing
  • tracks
  • scat
  • claw marks
  • burrows/homes
  • feathers
  • hair
  • carrion
  • blood
  • food cache
  • odor
  • urine
  • bedding
  • we actually see them

What is That? Ask a Naturalist!


Look for signs of animals.


Even though we may not see them, there are a lot of way we can know that they are here.  Once we see these signs, we can begin to identify them.

PRINTS – one single print

Prints can be split up into 3 groups depending on the foot structure of the animal:


  • Heel and Toe
  • Humans, primates, bears


  • Balls of feet; Paw prints
  • Coyote, Fox, Dog, Cat , Squirrels, Hare, Rabbits


  • Walking on toenails; no pad
  • Elk, Deer, Moose, Sheep


A track is a pattern left by a series of prints.

Please note: Patterns are not scientific or definite; animals can fit into different pattern types depending on how they are walking or running.

Illustration: Animal_Tracks 


What else should you look at when attempting to identify an animal print or track pattern?

  • Where it goes/comes from
  • Look at the habitat location and range
  • Look at the depth of the print in the snow (will give you an idea of weight)

Have students identify track patterns that they find.

How was your experience?  We'd love to hear your comments, what did the kids enjoy or how did you modify the lesson plan to create excitement around the topic?

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Topics: Lesson Plan

Walking Mountains

Written by Walking Mountains

Our mission is to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship and sustainability through natural science education.