Leave No Trace is a set of principles designed to promote responsible outdoor practices that minimize human impact on the environment. Following these principles helps preserve the natural beauty of hiking and camping areas for future generations to enjoy.
Here are the seven Leave No Trace principles:
- Plan Ahead and Prepare: Proper planning ensures a safe and enjoyable hiking experience while reducing damage to the environment. Research the area you will be visiting, check weather conditions, and obtain any necessary permits or permissions. Plan your route and make sure you have the appropriate gear and supplies for the trip.
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: Stick to established trails and campsites to minimize damage to the surrounding vegetation and soil. Avoid trampling on fragile plants or disturbing wildlife habitats. When camping, use designated campsites whenever possible and camp at least 200 feet away from lakes and streams to protect water sources.
- Dispose of Waste Properly: Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter. Do not leave any waste behind, including biodegradable items like food scraps, as they can take a long time to decompose and attract wildlife to human areas. Use restroom facilities when available, or if not, dig a small hole at least 200 feet away from water sources and trails to bury human waste properly.
- Leave What You Find: Leave natural and cultural features as you found them. Avoid picking flowers, disturbing wildlife, or removing rocks and artifacts. Preserve the environment for others to enjoy by not altering it in any way.
- Minimize Campfire Impact: Use a camp stove for cooking instead of making a campfire. If campfires are permitted and necessary, use established fire rings or fire pans and keep the fire small. Burn only small sticks and twigs that can be broken by hand and put out the fire completely before leaving the site.
- Respect Wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance and avoid approaching or feeding them. Do not disturb their natural behaviors or habitats. Store food securely to prevent attracting animals to campsites.
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Keep noise levels down, yield the trail to others, and maintain a friendly and respectful attitude toward fellow hikers and campers. Allow others to enjoy the tranquility of nature by minimizing your impact and preserving a peaceful atmosphere.
By following these Leave No Trace principles, hikers can help protect the natural environment and ensure that future generations can enjoy the outdoors just as we do today.