The Importance of Leaving No Trace When Hiking
Where ever in the world we go to hike, we should absolutely always follow the ‘Leave No Trace’ principle which guides us to enjoy the natural world around us in a sustainable way that avoids human-created impacts.
City, countryside, beach or mountain the idea remains the same, so how do we go about making sure that we don’t leave any footprints upon our trodden paths?
PLANNING AND PREPARATION – LEAVE NO TRACE
Check out the rules and any special concerns for the places that you are staying at ahead of leaving so that you know what you’re heading for.
Make sure that you plan for extreme weather and hazards that could come up, don’t rely on everything running smoothly because things have a habit of not!
Be sure to travel at periods of low use and travel in smaller groups if you can.
STICK TO DURABLE SURFACES – LEAVE NO TRACE
Durable surfaces include trails that are already there for walking and are usually gravel, dry grasses or snow.
Try to camp around 200 feet away from lakes and rivers since this helps to protect riparian areas.
Try to avoid campsites where impacts are just starting to show and preferably stick to exsiting trails and campsites.
Keep campsites on the smaller size and in areas were there isn’t much vegetation.
DISPOSE OF WASTE CORRECTLY – LEAVE NO TRACE
Inspect your rest areas and campsite really throughly and take it all with you.
Solid human waste should be buried six to eight inches deep and at least 200 feet from water, camps or trails.
Also make sure you tip water that you’ve used to wash yourself and dishes 200 feet away from these areas too.
LEAVE BEHIND WHAT YOU FIND – LEAVE NO TRACE
Leave rocks, plants and any other natural products as you find them, don’t take them away or disturb them too much.
Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species
Try not to build structures or dig trenches.
RESPECT WILDLIFE – LEAVE NO TRACE
Observe wildlife from a distance, don’t try to get up close and personal, watch as they do their own thing.
Don’t feed animals and avoid wildlife at sensitive times such as mating, nesting, raising young or winter.
BE CAUTIOUS OF YOUR CAMPFIRE – LEAVE NO TRACE
Campfires are great, but they can leave a lasting impact on the environment so use a lightweight stove for cooking and a candle lantern at dinner.
Try to use established fire rings.
Keep fires small.
Burn all wood and coal to ash, put the fire out completely and then scatter the ash once its cool.
BE CONSIDERATE TO OTHER VISITORS – LEAVE NO TRACE
Respect other visitors and in doing so protect the quality of their hiking experience
Don’t be loud, let natures noises prevail.