More and more we hear about the importance of “Leave no trace” hiking, but what is it exactly? It’s quite simple actually, Leave No Trace hiking is all about making sure that your trip does not disturb the environment that you visit. Those who practice Leave No Trace hiking make sure to follow a set of of principles or rules to make sure they leave their hiking trail, as well as those surrounding it, undisturbed by their presence. Let’s take a look at what those principles are!
1. Take care of your waste
Dumping waste along hiking trails (or anywhere really) is extremely bad for the environment. When you go hiking make sure that you bring back your waste with you in order to dispose of it properly. Make sure to also not disturb water sources by dumping any kind of waste within 60 meters of them.
2. Respecting the wildlife
Leaving no trace also involves respecting the different forms of wildlife that inhabit the areas surrounding hiking trails. It's important to observe animals from a distance, and to not interact directly with them, in order to avoid changing their behavior. Feeding animals should also be avoided for the same reason.
3. Don't alter surfaces when hiking
Try to use existing trails when hiking in order to avoid altering or damaging the terrain. Finding new pathways through nature can be fun, but it can also damage the surrounding eco systems if you step on vegetation or unstable ground.
4. Be careful with campfires
if you are planning to use a campfire during your hiking/camping trip, make sure that you are cooking on durable surfaces and that you are being very careful about protecting the soil and the roots from burning. Make sure to extinguish the fire completely before leaving and make sure that the ashes have cooled off before moving on.
5. Don't take anything with you
It's important to leave things as you found them when hiking. That flower that you found might look good as a souvenir, but think of the damage that it would do to our ecosystems if everybody took something home when they went hiking!
6. Being nice to others
Remember that other people are frequenting the trails that you are on. Try to be respectful to other hikers by not being causing too much noise. Many people go on hikes to enjoy the sounds of nature so try to be considerate with your noise levels.
7. Plan Ahead
And finally, the last important aspect of Leaving No Trace is to make sure that you arrive prepared to the hiking trail. That means having enough supplies, packaging your food correctly to limit waste and most importantly, make sure that you understand the layout of the hiking trail and its various rules. Being well prepared makes it easier to leave the trail in the same condition that you found it in.
And there you have it! Leaving no trace is a great way to ensure that you respect not only the environment, but also your fellow hikers. Let us know if you've been practicing No Trace Hiking or if you're planning to in the future!