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I Didn't Know That!: Boot Brushing

Banner reads: I Didn't Know That! Boot Brushing with a photo of a boot in a brush

Why do I need to brush my boots before a hike?

You’re ready for a hike! As you hit the trailhead, you see some fellow hikers brushing their hiking boots on a giant brush anchored to the ground. What’s that? you wonder. Are they scraping mud off their shoes before a hike? You look down at your feet. Sure, your boots are a little muddy. But you wear that proudly - little reminders of the trails traveled before today. Plus, you think to yourself, why would I brush mud off my boots before hitting a dirt trail?

My friend, you’re looking at a boot brush station. Brushing you boots before a hike can help prevent the spread of invasive species.

A sign reads "Help Protect our Forests" above a large bristly brush anchored to the ground

Invasive species have many ways of spreading, including on us! Mud and dirt attached to our shoes can carry plant seeds. As we hike, the seeds fall off accidentally planting unwanted species along the trail.

Invasive species can cause harm to plants and animals in an ecosystem. The invasive plants become competition with native plants and can even threaten them with extinction. As invasive plants spread, an ecosystem becomes less diverse and vulnerable to diseases and natural disasters.

What You Can Do

One way to prevent the spread of invasive species is to brush your boots! Many parks have installed boot brush stations so visitors can easily clean their footwear as they enter and exit park trails. Practice Leave No Trace principles and learn how to PlayCleanGo!.

See the proper way to use a boot brushing station in the video below.

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Duration:
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See the proper way to use a boot brushing station in this video.

A card detailing why and you should brush your boots before hiking, a detailed description can be found in the text below.

Pass It On!

Did you learn something new? Pass it on! Protecting our parks is a job for us all, but there's no way for everyone to be an expert in everything. That's why sharing knowledge is so important! So the next time you run into a fellow hiker confused by the need to brush their boots, you can fill them in and assure them that it's ok to admit - "I didn't know that!"

Download or screenshot this card to share with a friend or help you remember why boot brushing is important. Thank you for helping to prevent the spread of invasive species!

Check out other I Didn't Know That! topics.

Did you know mud and dirt attached to our shoes can carry plant seeds? As we hike, the seed fall off accidentally planting unwanted species along the trail.

If they are invasive plant seeds, they cause a serious problem.Invasive plants become competition with native plants and can even threaten extinction.

You can help stop the spread of invasive species! By following these tips:

  1. Always practice Leave No Trace principles
  2. Brush your boots before a hike to remove dirt & seeds
  3. Tell a friend and pass it on!

Last updated: December 1, 2023