Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace is a national program that promotes the protection of our nation's wildlands through education, research, and partnerships. Leave No Trace teaches "minimum impact" hiking and camping skills and wilderness ethics, builds awareness and appreciation, and fosters respect for our public recreation lands.

Four federal land management agencies (National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) support the Leave No Trace message. Working with outdoor retailers, educators, and user groups these federal agencies are helping to make Leave No Trace the common language for all outdoor enthusiasts.

Leave No Trace goes beyond following the rules; it requires thoughtful judgement for each situation that comes up. Leave No Trace follows a set of seven principles that can be applied in any natural setting to minimize human impacts on the environment. Following the Leave No Trace principles helps protect precious natural and cultural park resources, and preserve the park experience for you and for future visitors.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is dedicated to promoting the Leave No Trace message. Click on the following educational video to learn more about Leave No Trace practices within the park.

Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
  • Visit in small groups. Split larger parties into groups of 4-6. (Lakeshore regulations specify 6 maximum for each backcountry site.)
  • Repackage food to minimize waste.
  • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns, or flagging.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
  • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary. (Lakeshore regulations require you to camp in designated areas.)
  • In popular areas: Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites. Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
  • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
  • In pristine areas, disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
  • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.

Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods.
  • Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter.
  • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished. (Use backcountry toilets where available.)
  • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
Leave What You Find
  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires. (In the Lakeshore, use fire rings provided.)
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
Respect Wildlife
  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely. (You are required to store food on backcountry food poles.)
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home. (Pets are not permitted in the Lakeshore backcountry.)
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock. (Pack stock are not permitted in the Lakeshore.)
  • Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors. (Lakeshore regulations require you to camp in designated areas.)
  • Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.

Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics
P.O. Box 997
Boulder, CO 80306
800-332-4100, 303-442-8222
303-442-8217 fax



Last updated: April 15, 2019

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