Keep it Green on the Trail

June 2, 2009, 8:14 am

Help support and protect our trails by being a responsible hiker!

Below are some tips adapted from the Leave No Trace principles. This national program promotes and inspires responsible outdoor recreation and stewardship of America’s public lands.

The National Park Service is a cooperating partner in the Leave No Trace program, along with other state and federal land management agencies. You can help minimize impacts to the natural resources and social experiences of other visitors by practicing the seven principles listed below.

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Know and respect regulations and the inherent risks in the parks.
  • Select activities and routes that have a degree of difficulty suitable for everyone in your group.
  • Pack adequate food, water, clothing, maps, compass, first-aid supplies and equipment.
  • Avoid traveling in the backcountry alone and always let someone know your exact plans.
  • Travel in small groups, split large parties into groups that are within the group size limits of the park you’re visiting.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Stay on trails and walk single file. Shortcutting switchbacks and/or leaving trails causes erosion and vegetation damage.
  • Select durable surfaces for rest breaks. If you must travel off-trail, use rock, snow, gravel or dry grasses, and disperse your impact by walking abreast.
  • Use designated campsites to help minimize your impact on the land.

Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Keep the parks litter-free by packing out everything you pack in.
  • Never leave, bury or burn leftover food items.
  • Bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
  • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6-8 inches deep away from water, camp, and trails.
  • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water at least 200 feet from lakes and streams and use small amounts of biodegradable soap.

Leave What You Find

  • All natural and historical objects are protected by law (except for fish and berries for personal consumption only).
  • Leave objects for others to enjoy. Never make alterations to campsites or to other natural features.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Consider using a cook stove, which is more efficient.
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans or mound fires.
  • Burn fires down to white ash and make sure they are dead out.
  • Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand. Do not burn trash.

Respect Wildlife

  • Never intentionally approach or disturb wildlife.
  • Leave young animals alone and avoid nesting, feeding or mating animals.
  • Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Control and leash pets at all times or leave them at home.

Be Considerate of Others

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Hikers should yield to stock users by stepping to the downhill side of the trail.
  • Let nature’s sounds prevail by keeping noise levels to a minimum.