Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace logo
Leave No Trace logo

Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics

Most people don't know how to behave in our natural areas in a way that will leave these beautiful places unimpaired by their visit.

Leave No Trace (LNT) provides research, education and initiatives so every person who ventures outside can protect and enjoy our world responsibly.

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.

Benchmark Backcountry Campsite with tent
Designated park backcountry campsite.


We hope you will care about Pictured Rocks as much as we do! Learn about Leave No Trace principles and practice them during your visit, especially planning ahead. Trip planning helps hikers and campers accomplish their goals safely and enjoyably while also minimizing damage to the park. Poor planning often results in miserable experiences and damage to park resources.

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Identify the goals (expectations) of your trip.
  • Identify the skill and ability of all trip participants.
  • Gain knowledge of the area you plan to visit from land managers, maps, and literature/web pages.
  • Choose equipment and clothing for comfort and safety.
  • Plan trip activities to match your goals, skills, and abilities.
  • Evaluate your trip upon return; note changes you will make next time.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Stay on official trails. Camp only in designated campsites. Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses, or snow.

  • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary. (Park regulations require you to camp in designated areas.)

  • In Pictured Rocks, use existing trails. Don't create new trails. Unofficial social trails can confuse other visitors.

  • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy. Don't widen the trails.

trash left in fire ring amongst charred wood and ash
Trash left in fire ring

NPS photo

Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Don't leave any food or trash behind - including orange peels, sunflower seeds, etc. These items are not natural to the area, are unsightly, and attract wildlife to foods they shouldn't rely on.

  • Plan meals to avoid messy, smelly garbage. Don’t count on a fire to dispose of it. Garbage that is half-burned or buried will still attract animals and make a site unattractive to other visitors.

  • For solid human waste, bring a small garden trowel to dig a catholes 6-8 inches deep and at least 200 feet (about 70 adult steps) from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished. (Use backcountry toilets where available.)

  • Use toilet paper sparingly and use only plain, white brands. It must be disposed of properly! It should either be thoroughly buried in a cat hole or placed in plastic bags and packed out. Pack out feminine hygiene products.

  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes. Use hot water, elbow grease, and soap if absolutely necessary. Strain dirty dishwater with a fine mesh strainer before scattering the water broadly. Pack out the contents of the strainer in a plastic bag along with any uneaten leftovers.

  • Lotion, sunscreen, insect repellent, and body oils can contaminate water sources. Wash up 200 feet from water sources so soils can help filter out these items.

Along a shoreline, someone has stacked rocks to create a small tower
Stack of rocks. Knock them down after you finish building them. Leave No Trace of your visit.

NPS photo

Leave What You Find

  • Leave natural objects and cultural artifacts so others can experience a sense of discovery. Natural objects of beauty or interest such as antlers, feathers, or colored rocks add to the mood of the backcountry. In national parks it is illegal to remove natural and cultural objects.

  • Do not damage live trees and plants. No nails, carving, or cutting branches.

  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches. This also includes rock cairns (stacking of rocks). If you do build something, make sure you knock it down before you go.


Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
  • Try to avoid having a campfire. If you chose to have one, use established park-provided fire rings.
  • Keep fires small. Collect only downed and dead wood. 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.
Fawn curled up in vegetation, hiding
Keep your distance from wildlife for both their protection and yours!

NPS photo

Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance so they are not scared or forced to flee.

  • Do not touch, get close to, or pick up wild animals. It is stressful to the animal, and it is possible that the animal may harbor rabies or other diseases.

  • 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. When camping you are required to store food, toothpaste, lotion, etc. in food lockers.

  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home. (Pets are not permitted in the park's backcountry.)

  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter. This can cause stress and risk animals' lives.


Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Maintain courtesy toward other visitors. Excessive noise, uncontrolled pets, and damaged surroundings take away from the natural appeal of the outdoors.

  • Keep noise down in camp so as not to disturb other campers or those passing by on the trail.

  • Be courteous. Downhill hikers should yield to uphill hikers on the trail.

  • Bright clothing and equipment, such as tents that can be seen for long distances, are discouraged.


Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together!
Learn more at

Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics
P.O. Box 997
Boulder, CO 80306


Last updated: December 5, 2022

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Munising, MI 49862


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