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Unlike on some long trails, there are no dumpsters or garbage cans at The Colorado Trail road crossings. Further, there are few towns adjacent to the Trail where one might find a trash bin. And trail angels who pack out trash are few and far between. Bottom line: Be prepared to pack your trash – for days if necessary – until you find a receptacle where outside trash is welcome.

It can be an irritation to some, but “pack in, pack out” is a fact CT users have to face – and accept. The alternative is a Trail strewn with garbage, which is not only a scar upon the land but a danger to animals and other Trail users. Read more about Leave No Trace Principles on the Treading Lightly page.

Sadly, trash along The Colorado Trail is becoming an increasing problem as the popularity of the Trail grows, often due to ignorance about the ethics of backcountry travel.

A few rules:

  • Do not leave trash anywhere it is not welcome.
  • Do not leave trash in a fire pit.
  • Do not leave trash in campground or trailhead bathrooms. (Some bathrooms along the CT have been closed and locked because of trash buildup.)

It’s incumbent upon all responsible Trail users to educate others about “treading lightly,” whether in person, on social media, or by other means. Peer pressure can be the most effective deterrent to bad trail behavior. To echo a familiar phrase: If you see something, say something.

Remember, there is no one whose job it is to pick up your trash. The Colorado Trail is beautiful. Let’s keep it that way.

photo by Scott Nalbach