Many of us have taken a pine cone or rock, which renders the land barren; veered off the trail to dodge mud puddles, which widens trails; gotten too close to wildlife, which can cause an animal to attack; or tossed an apple core into the woods, which causes animals to gravitate around roads. For every cause, there is an effect. While these actions may seem harmless at the time, they have a damaging cumulative affect as more and more visitors engage in this behavior.
Leave No Trace is not a set of rules or regulations. Rather, it is first and foremost an attitude and an ethic. Leave No Trace is about respecting and caring for wildlands, doing your part to protect our natural and cultural resources. Below, are the seven principles that make up this important ethic.
Plan Ahead and PrepareKnow the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll be visiting. Pre for extreme weather, hazards and emergencies. Repackage food to minimize waste. This also reduces the weight of your pack making hiking easier.
Travel and Camp on Durable SurfacesDurable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses, mulch or snow. Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy. Camp only in designated camping areas. Do not alter, modify or improve a campsite.
Dispose of Waste ProperlyInspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter. To wash yourself, use the restrooms or shower facilities that are provided. Do not use the streams or spigots designed for drinking water.
Leave What You FindPreserve 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 plant and animal species.
Minimize Campfire ImpactsCampfires can cause impacts which last for many years. Use a light weight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for lights. Where fires are permitted, only use established fire rings and barbecues. Collect only dead and downed wood; do not break tress. Keep fires small. Bonfires are wasteful.
Respect WildlifeObserve wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach wildlife. 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 food safely. Control pets at all times. Be especially cautious during breeding, nesting, or hunting seasons.
Be Respectful of Other VisitorsRespect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience. Let nature's sound prevail. Avoid loud noises and voices.
Watch a Leave No Trace video to learn more about these principles.
Last updated: September 22, 2017