DENVER – If you’re caught vandalizing or breaking the rules at one of Colorado’s hiking trails or other natural areas, you could face a fine or have to appear in court. You could also end up featured on a new Instagram account that aims to publicly shame those engaging in destructive or disrespectful behavior.
It’s called Trail Trash of Colorado and its creator finds and re-shares photos and videos that people have posted on the social media site, some of them bragging about disregarding posted rules and warnings.
The creator, who wishes to remain anonymous, said they’re fed up with people being disrespectful and trashing some of the state’s most beautiful areas.
“As someone who goes out to the mountains at every possible chance, I'm simply appalled at the amount of blatant disregard for the wilderness that people have,” the creator told Denver7.
Just in the past week, photos have surfaced of graffiti, trash and other vandalism at Daniels Park in Douglas County and Hanging Lake Trail in Garfield County, and park rangers are considering closing some areas because they don’t have the staff to handle all the cleanup.
Most of the photos on Trail Trash of Colorado so far show people walking on the log at Hanging Lake, which is prohibited. Also not allowed: Taking your dog on the Hanging Lake trail.
“The dog poo bags are what anger me the most, but nobody posts selfies with dog poop bags,” Trail Trash’s creator said. “It seems like everyone is obsessed with selfies of themselves on the log at Hanging Lake, so that's kind of easy picking.”
If the comments on Instagram and Reddit are any indication, the public response to the photos has been mostly positive so far. As of Thursday afternoon, Trail Trash of Colorado was at nearly 1,000 followers and growing.
People whose photos have been featured along with their faces and names have been less than thrilled. Some of them have since made their accounts private or deleted them entirely and the Trail Trash creator said some have lashed out and said things like “Don’t you have better things to do with your time?”
The creator's response: “Yes. I’d rather be camping, but I can’t do that every day.”
Though the person behind the shame game admits it’s a bit harsh, they say people who put their disregard for the rules on public display online have it coming.
“Maybe they should think twice about knowingly flouting the rules and then posting it to Instagram. As far as I'm concerned, once it's posted and public it is fair game,” they said.
The account’s creator hopes the photos encourage everyone to take better care of our parks and natural areas.
“If you see someone being an idiot on the trail then tell them. Lead by example and don't litter. Take an extra trash bag when you go camping so you can take some extra trash out with you. Go on a trail cleanup with some friends,” they said.
“I just want to see more people being proactive about the situation rather than being complicit about it.”