Hikers are pooping all over Colorado's trails – but the tourism office has a plan

Young man hiking with stomach ache
(Image credit: Getty)

The Colorado backcountry has a serious poop problem, and now the tourism office is taking action to tackle it.

Colorado is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the US, attracting visitors from all over the world, but not everyone sticks to the principles of leave no trace – particularly when it comes to their bathroom habits. That's led to a real pollution issue on public lands, where hikers and campers are leaving waste out in the open.

Now, the Colorado Tourism Office is taking a stand, and has awarded a $40,000 grant to an organization that produces and distributes ready-made poop disposal kits.

As the Colorado Sun reports, Gunnison Crested Butte Tourism Association’s 'Doo' Colorado Right campaign was one of 17 groups awarded grants to promote more sustainable tourism in the state this month – but the only one to focus on public pooping.

Can you dig it?

The project will distribute 3,600 free kits to trail crews, visitors' centers, and other places that are likely to meet backcountry hikers and campers. The scheme will start in spring 2023, and gives adventurers everything they need to clean up after themselves. Each compact kit includes a small ergonomic trowel, cellulose pellets that expand into towelettes with a little water, little wooden plugs containing mycelium fungi, and hand sanitizer.

Outdoor explorers dig a 6-8in deep hole using the trowel, do their business, use the wipes, and then drop them into the hole together with the mycelium plugs. The wipes act as 'food' for the fungus, which grows and breaks down the poop much faster than it would under normal conditions.

The association is currently working on an even smaller version of the kit, which omits the hand sanitizer and fits entirely within the trowel.

“We have kits for everything we do outdoors – cooking, first aid, water purifying – but not for poop,” said Denver-based Jake Thomas, who developed the kit together with his friend Noah Schum from Crested Butte.

“We could see that the issue of human waste was going to lead to more restrictions. We recognized that we needed to take this on as recreationalists. Now, we are so pleased to play a role in the state’s efforts to do this.”

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.