When we’re talking about the environment there is one thing that most of us can agree on. Conservation and preservation of the places that we all love and enjoy on a regular basis is extremely important.
Leaving the environment the same as we found it will ensure that it remains pristine for many generations of outdoor enthusiasts to come. The key to this effort is The Leave No Trace principles that were set in place to ensure the wild and healthy places remain for generations to come.
They are not a defined ruleset, they are more of a mindset. A way to think and act which creates a positive decision making process to foster the environment that we desire to live in. There are a total of 7 principles and a refresher is great for beginner hikers and seasoned hikers alike.
Table of Contents
The Leave No Trace principles Quiz
Test your chops and see how you stack up against 7 questions from each aspect of the Leave No Trace principles. If the Leave No Trace principles are a new concept for you, skip to the bottom and have a read before trying your hand at the test.
The Leave No Trace Principles
Here’s a little brush up on the Leave No Trace Principles, just in case :).
1. Plan ahead and prepare
- Know the regulations – Do you need a special permit?
- Check the weather report – Be ready for extremes
- Travel during non-peak times of the year
- Travel in small groups to reduce impact
- Repackage food to minimize waste
- Learn how to use a map and compass – Don’t mark up the trail
2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Use established campsites when possible
- Durable surface include gravel, grass, sand, and snow
- Camp 200 feet from any water sources to limit grey water runoff
- The best campsites are found and not made
- Avoid places with no human impact
- Walk single file
- Keep campsites as small as possible
3. Dispose of waste properly
- Pack it in, Pack it out – Take everything home with you
- Poop in 6-8 inch holes 200 feet from water and bury it when finished
- Pack out toilet paper and personal hygiene products
- Wash dishes 200 feet from water sources
4. Leave everything you find
- Do not remove historical structures and artifacts
- Leave plants, rocks, pinecones, and other natural objects
- Do not build any structures or dig trenches
- Avoid introducing any and all non-native species
5. Minimize campfire impacts
- Opt for a backpacking stove over a campfire
- If fires are permitted use established fire rings and fire pits
- Limit the size of fires
- Only use dead wood
- Burn embers to ash
- Extinguish the coals with water
6. Be respectful of wildlife
- Do not follow or approach wildlife
- Never feed the animals, no matter how cute they are
- Control your pets, don’t let them chase the wildlife
- Protect your food from wildlife by keeping food in containers
- Avoid wildlife during winter, mating season, and nesting season
7. Be considerate to others
- Be nice to people
- Respect other hikers
- Camp away from trails and other visitors
- Keep the noise down
- Use the downhill side of the trail when avoiding groups
The authority on the Leave No Trace principles is the Center for Outdoor Ethics. You can check out their website and blog here, it’s full of awesome and actionable advice.
Keep calm and hike on.