Be a good steward of the land: Pack out what you pack in.

Colorado has begun to reopen its state parks to camping, as well as hiking, after a long hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is amazing news, but also a good time to be a responsible hiker and camper and keep our wildland wild. 

Every year, there are stories of campsites left in disarray, food wrappers (and don't even get me started on cigarette butts) found on hiking trails, and animal waste bags left along wilderness routes. Excessive garbage at Kenosha Pass caused facilities to close to the public a few years back. And sadly, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is already having to remind us that there's no one who will pick up after you. Your mess, your responsibility.

I know most of us don't need this reminder, but there appears to be a few out there who don't respect the outdoors, so when out and about in the wild, just remember "Leave No Trace." By packing out everything you pack in, you ensure that our wildlife don't get ahold of something they shouldn't, as well as keep trails and campsites pristine for others to enjoy. Not wanting to carry dog poop bags is not more important than keeping our wilderness areas safe. Leave no trace also goes beyond just packing out what you pack in. 

"It’s part of the “leave no trace” ethic of the outdoors. You’ve heard the expression: Leave only footprints and take only memories. Do not leave anything behind. Trash includes wrappers, bottles, toilet paper, bags with your pet poop, grocery bags and un-eaten food. This is critical because we share our trails with millions of people and other species.

Leaving no trace also means not cutting trees or moving rocks or picking plants. The ecosystem operates in the way it is intended, and we unfortunately don’t know enough to change it safely.

If you are lucky enough to hike a trail in solitude, don’t forget that there is always someone else who wants to enjoy the same scenery. Don’t ruin by leaving your trash." - Darcy Mount, Senior Ranger Cheyenne Mountain State Park

To ensure you leave only footprints and take only memories, there are seven very easy steps to follow when you venture out to our public lands, and private land, as well. 

7 Principles of Leave No Trace

  1. Know before you go (do your research on your trails, weather, etc., so you don't end up in an emergency situation)
  2. Stick to trails
  3. Trash your trash
  4. Leave is as you find it 
  5. Keep wildlife wild (and if camping, ensure you secure food and trash to keep bears from frequenting campgrounds and trashing your site)
  6. Be careful with fire (please, please, please—the last thing Colorado's economy needs is a wicked wildfire season this year)
  7. Share our trails

Are you ready to hit the Colorado wilderness? Do you have a "leave no trace" tip to share with others who are getting ready to hike or camp? Let us know in the comments!