What is Leave No Trace

WHAT IS LEAVE NO TRACE – And Why Is It Important For Outdoor Enthusiasts To Follow?

By ANNIE RITCHIE / November 17, 2022

Leave no trace is an outdoor ethic that aims to minimize the impact of humans on the natural environment. It serves as guidance for outdoor enthusiasts to ensure that natural resources will be around for generations to come.

Hiking and camping are two popular recreational activities that allow people to enjoy the beauty of the natural world. However, these activities can also have a significant impact on the environment. Hikers and campers often trample vegetation, which can damage delicate ecosystems. Furthermore, they may leave behind trash or build fires that endanger local wildlife. It is therefore important for hikers and campers to be aware of their impact on the environment and take steps to minimize it.

The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace

The seven principles of leave no trace are designed to help people enjoy the outdoors without damaging it.


The first principle is to plan ahead and prepare for your trip. This includes checking the weather forecast and making sure you have the proper gear. planning ahead before you go on your trip can help lessen your impact. You can map out your route, research the area you will be visiting, and pack only what you need.


The second principle is to travel on durable surfaces. This means sticking to designated trails and avoiding shortcuts. When you are camping or hiking, try to stick to established trails and camp on durable surfaces like gravel or sand instead of fragile vegetation.


The third principle is to dispose of waste properly. Be sure to properly dispose of all your waste, including food scraps and human waste. This includes packing out all trash and burying human waste at least six inches deep.


The fourth principle is to leave what you find. This means resist the urge to take things you see as souvenirs. Leave rocks, flowers, and other natural features undisturbed for others to enjoy.


The fifth principle is to minimize campfire impacts. If possible, use a small camp stove instead of building a fire.  If you must build a fire, use existing fire rings when possible and avoid impacting delicate ecosystems like wetlands. If you do build a fire, make sure it is completely extinguished before you leave.


The sixth principle is to respect wildlife. Remember to give wildlife plenty of space, keeping a safe distance from them, and never feed them. If you are bringing your pet along its worth considering how to keep them from disturbing the wildlife. I’ve included some optional reading below, just scroll to the end.

Other People

The seventh and final principle is to be considerate of other hikers and campers. This means being respectful of their privacy and keeping noise levels down.

What About Fishing and Hunting?

When fishing or hunting, there are a few additional things you can do to practice Leave No Trace principles. If you are fishing, be sure to take with you any bait containers, and used fishing line. In addition, avoid disturbing fragile habitats like wetlands and tide pools.

Respecting wildlife applies to both your prey and the surrounding eco-system. For instance, adhere to the rules about endangered species and quotas. Avoid unnecessary  kills and damage. Take away with you any waste from skinning and descaling.

What to do if You See Someone Breaking the Leave No Trace Principles

If you see someone breaking the Leave No Trace principles, there are a few things you can do to help. First, try to educate the person about the importance of Leave No Trace. Explain how their actions are impacting the environment and wildlife. If they’re receptive, they may be willing to change their ways. If not, you can still take action to protect the area. For example, you could pick up any trash they’ve left behind or build a barrier to prevent further damage. By taking even small steps, you can help, besides of course calling on help from rangers and conservation officers.

Leave no trace is important because it helps to protect the wilderness areas that we all enjoy. When we adopt the leave no trace mindset, we become good stewards of the outdoors, and help to preserve it for future generations.