Be more aware of dogs’ poop | AspenTimes.com

Be more aware of dogs’ poop

Michael McLaughlin
On the Trail

As a Carbondale resident, I'm extremely grateful to have the Red Hill trail system within walking distance of our home. Growing up in Seattle meant at least an hour car ride to find any decent mountain trails, and those trails were so heavily used that finding peace and quiet was challenging.

In reality, it was more like a two-hour journey to get away from the masses, but that's what we knew and accepted. Not only is Red Hill accessible, but the trail system is expansive enough to allow for a more intimate hike than a person would expect.

It's one of the most popular hiking and biking areas in the Roaring Fork Valley — and for good reason. The trail system offers a variety of challenging routes up the hill, as you're surrounded by red sandstone, pinyons and junipers, with drop-dead-gorgeous views that extend over Highway 82 toward Carbondale and Mount Sopris. Depending how far you want to hike or ride, the loop trail can extend to about 6 miles, but many shorter options are available.

There is, however, a problem that appears to be getting worse.

Poop. Dog poop, specifically, and this past week, the amount between the parking lot to access the hike and the trailhead was incredibly noticeable and, well, disgusting.

The parking lot is next to the traffic light where Highway 82 converges with Highway 133. By the way, that lot gets crowded, as it also serves as a commuter parking lot. It's a short one-third-mile hike from the lot to the trailhead, which is clearly marked.

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In that third of a mile, I saw at least 50 piles of dog waste, and there are some obviously large dogs that frequent the area. When I reached the trailhead with my leashed dog, a gentleman was coming down the trail with several loaded bags of dog waste in tow. He wasn't happy, and I doubt he wanted to talk to a dog-toting hiker, but he shared that he had already picked up more than 50 piles on the trail himself.

"Unbelievable," he said. "I thought people were a lot more crap-aware around here."

I could tell he was angry, and subconsciously, I tried to show him that I had several bags tied onto my leash and would never leave a pile behind.

That gentleman inspired me on my hike, or maybe he just made me feel guilty since I had a poop-producer with me. On my hike, I found a bag of waste someone had left on the side of the trail and took it back down to a garbage can, doing my good deed for the day.

It's disappointing to see so much dog waste when there are kiosks with poop bags available near the parking lot and the trailhead. I've seen a lot of people let their dogs off their leashes as they run or bike up the trails, and they inevitably lose sight of their pets and what their pets are doing.

Picking up dog waste is simply a common courtesy any dog owner should understand, especially on a public trail system. As the old saying goes, "Keep the poop away from where people play."

mmclaughlin@aspentimes.com

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