How to: The 7 principles of leave no trace behind

Whether you're a newbie to the hiking community or you’re a bit more experienced, it’s important to know how to protect the environment and still enjoy your time outdoors!

“Leave No Trace” is a set of outdoor ethics promoting conservation. It’s built upon seven principles that help minimize our impact on the environment.

Always stay on trails to protect you, nature and wildlife. Leave no trace behind.

Always stay on trails to protect you, nature and wildlife. Leave no trace behind.

Principle 1: Plan ahead & prepare

Planning not only makes your hiking experience more enjoyable, it also minimizes damage to the land, which is more important than ever before. 

Do some research on the area you plan on hiking, utilize the layering system for unpredictable weather and if you’re going in a group make sure that everyone has the skill level for that trail! All Trails is an excellent resource for hikers.. You can search for hikes throughout the United States and filter your search according to difficulty, length, rating, and even a trail’s scenery!

Yes, there’s an app for that 😎

Principle 2: Travel & camp on durable surfaces

Trails are there for a reason, so use ‘em! As fun as it is to venture off and go your own way, be mindful of the organisms we’re walking on.

Soil erosion is just one of many serious consequences for steering off the path.

Going off the trail scars the landscape, so use those boots for walkin’ and walk all over those trails! 🥾

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Principle 3: Dispose of waste properly

What you leave behind on a hike has an impact on our water, other people and wildlife. Proper disposal of human waste minimizes the possibility of spreading disease and maximizes the rate of decomposition. If ya gotta go, make a hole!

And if you come across trash on your hike, nature would love it if you picked it up 🗑️

Principle 4: Leave what you find

Cleaning up after yourself is a necessity, whether you’re stopping to eat a sandwich mid-hike or camping in the wilderness for a few nights. Avoid damaging trees and plants.

Flowers make people happy, but flowers are happiest when rooted in the ground for all other hikers to admire. It doesn’t seem like picking a few flowers would be a biggie right, but imagine if every person plucked a flower? At the end of the day, there wouldn’t be any flowers left.

And bees are endangered remember! Leave things where they are so we can all continue to enjoy nature 🌎

Principle 5: Minimize campfire impacts

If making a fire is necessary, be mindful of a few things: always keep it small, use existing fire rings or fire pans whenever possible, allow the wood to completely turn to ash and use water to put it out.

Only burn wood that is no larger than the diameter of an adult wrist, and don’t damage live or fallen trees.

A campfire permit is required for ALL campsite fires in California 🔥

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Principle 6: Respect wildlife

Observing wildlife is totally okay, as long as you’re doing it from a distance. None of us would like our personal space to be invaded, by a stranger, when we’re just minding our own business, right? Treat wildlife the same.

The four rules to remember are: no touching, no feeding, no bothering and no picking up 🐻

Principle 7: Be considerate of other visitors

Like wildlife, be considerate of other humans too!. It makes everyone’s experience more enjoyable. People go into nature to relax and connect with all there is around them. A nice smile or hello wouldn’t hurt either! 

To learn more about how you can protect the environment, head over to Leave No Trace and drop your tips and tricks to leave no trace in the comments.

Happy hiking!