Something that has always been important to our family is keeping our trail and campsites in better condition than we found them while being respectful of wildlife and other hikers. What was once called common courtesy is now something that needs to be continuously reminded as so many often forget. Whether you are trying to teach new hikers these concepts or looking to help remind a group to travel responsibly, we hope that you find this site and the PDF of the flyer useful.
1. Plan ahead and prepare
It is important to know where you are going and what it will be like. Make sure to check the weather to be able to pack accordingly and always bring a map or some sort of navigation tool. Find out ahead of time if you need a permit and if there are restrictions to the group size. Consider the skill and ability level of the group and make sure everyone is aware of what distance and elevation change can be expected. Think about how many meals you will need and make sure to pack at least one extra snack – for those just in case moments.
2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
It’s always important to stay on the trail as you never know what kind of plants and animals are being protected and NEVER cut switchbacks (trail zigzags that reduce the amount of incline you need to hike.)
When you travel to remote areas, find a location for bathroom privacy, and explorations near and around campsites it is considered appropriate to be off-trail, however, there are some rules you still need to follow:
- Try and keep your group size as small as possible to limit the impact on the area.
- Always try and use an established campsite when possible.
- Look for areas of rock, compacted soil, sand, gravel, or snow for break areas.
- Be sure to set up campsites and long break spots 200 feet (70 adult steps), unless otherwise posted, from any water sources.
3. Dispose of waste properly
Always carry out your trash with you and dispose of it in a proper receptacle. This also includes toilet paper (although some areas may allow you to bury it), feminine hygiene products, and may include that actual human waste itself in some park areas. Despite the ick factor, it is incredibly important to pack out according to the regulations of the area to protect the land so that it can be visited for years to come.
If you are not required to pack out your waste you should dig a cathole. This should be 200 feet (approximately 70 adult paces) from any water source and at least 6 inches deep and 4 inches in diameter and then refilled with the original dirt once used. Picking a spot that receives a good amount of sunlight will aid in the decomposition and you should look for a place that doesn’t have any fragile plant life.
4. Leave what you find
As cliche as it is, the saying “leave only footprints and take only memories” really rings true here. You may think that picking a pretty flower, taking a leaf or feather, or bringing the cool rock you found won’t harm the area… but if everyone did just that there would be very little left and each item may fill a specific need for an animal. The best way to appreciate nature or an artifact that you find is to take a picture or draw a picture. If you move rocks or branches to set up your tent be sure to put it back.
“If you love a flower, don’t pick it up.
Because if you pick it up it dies and it ceases to be what you love.
So if you love a flower, let it be.
Love is not about possession.
Love is about appreciation.”