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Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace sounds pretty self-explanatory, but what does it mean? There are 7 principles of the leave-no-trace theory which help to preserve the nature we love for recreation. 

1. Plan ahead and prepare

It’s fun to spontaneously head to the mountains, but a level of preparation will always help. This means checking on permits, knowing any regional or weather hazards, learning what to do in case of an emergency, and how to navigate. Make sure to buy a map or download the GPX for your trek, let someone know where you’re going, and have an exit strategy before heading off the grid. 

2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces

Where we set up a camp can have a lasting impact on the land around us. Make sure to choose a dedicated campsite or a strong surface when wild camping. This means rock, gravel, dry grasses, or snow. It is also imperative to stay at least 90 meters from lakes and streams to keep from polluting them.

3. Dispose of waste properly

Pack it out! If you’re at an established campground, use their designated trash bins. If you’re in the backcountry, keep a trash bag or waste management system with you for all of your waste. This also means utilizing WAG (waste and garbage) bags for human waste if you cannot bury it sufficiently. You can learn more about packing out human waste here. 

4. Leave what you found

“Take only pictures, leave only footprints.” Even when you find the coolest rock, it’s best practice to leave it in its environment. This is helpful to avoid spreading non-native species and to preserve the region. 

5. Minimize campfire impacts

Campfires are a classic tradition of camping but can have a lasting impact on the environment. In drought-ridden regions, they can contribute to wildfires, and the demand for firewood elsewhere can lead to faster deforestation. Try using your camp stove and a candle, or stay within fire rings. If you make a fire, keep it small and put out the fire completely before going to bed. 

6. Respect wildlife

It’s no secret that our relationship with wildlife is changing as animals venture more into towns and cities in search of food and water. However, it is still important not to feed wildlife or disturb them when you see them in nature. Be sure to lock your food in bear-safe containers and keep an eye on your pets if you take them outside with you.

7. Be considerate of others

Treat others how you want to be treated: no loud music, pass on the left and be courteous in busy areas. The goal is for everyone to have a nice time outside.

These 7 principles lead to a more sustainable future for our trails. Following them not only makes you an exemplary steward but also a role model for others around you!


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