Back-country areas are
places to seek solitude and a "wilderness experience" away from
crowds, noise, and daily pressures of life. By using Leave No Trace skills,
trail users can reduce their impact on the diverse, fragile, and spectacular
areas in our country. The following are guidelines that will assist trail
users in successfully enjoying the American wilderness. Leave only footprints
- Take only memories.
Seven Keys to
Low-Impact and No-Trace Camping
- Wear a uniform or other
clothing that will blend into your surroundings.
- Obtain as much
information as possible before venturing out. This includes topographic
maps, recreation maps, information sheets, and guidebooks.
- Learn about regulations
and restrictions of the area prior to traveling.
- Avoid popular areas
during times of high use.
- Select areas that are
right for your activities.
- Plan 12 or fewer in your
group or patrol.
- Check ahead to see if the
area can accommodate and/or will allow your group size.
- Repackage food into
lightweight containers that can easily be carried out with you.
- Be prepared to filter or
boil all water during your trip.
- Leave a detailed
itinerary with someone prior to venturing out.
- Take along trash bags and
- Stay on designated trails
and avoid any cross-country travel.
- If unavoidable, select
hard ground or snow for cross-country travel.
- Do not cut across
- Read your map carefully
to avoid having to build cairns.
- When encountering
equestrians, step to the downhill side of the trail and remain quiet.
- Use designated or already
impacted campsites when appropriate.
- Choose sites free of
- Hide your campsite from
view, out of site of trails, streams, and lakes.
- Stay as few nights as
possible in one place. Before leaving the area, naturalize it as much as
- Select a campsite 200
feet or more from trails, lakes, streams, trails, and wet meadows.
- Avoid constructing
structures or digging trenches.
- Do not ditch tents.
- Use a lightweight stove
for cooking rather than building a fire.
- If having a campfire, use
existing fire rings instead of building new ones.
- Build fires only were
approprate, away from trees, rocks, shrubs, and meadows.
- Make sure the fire is
- Scatter the ashes and
naturalize the area.
- Use only dead and down
wood. Never cut green trees or bushes.
- Know the fire
restrictions for the area.
- Replace sod or ground
cover to erase burn scars.
- Burn food scraps
completely in a fire or put them in a plastic bag and carry them out.
- Pack out everything that
you pack in.
- Do all washing 50 feet
(about 75 steps) away from camp and water sources.
- Dig latrines 200 feet or
more from camps, trails, and water sources.
- Bury sump holes and
latrines when you are through with them, and restore ground cover.
Horse and Livestock:
- Keep groups small and
carry lightweight equipment.
- Keep the number of
animals to a minimum.
- Select a campsite that
has enough feed for your stock.
- Keep stock 200 feet or
more from lakeshores.
- Bring pellets, grain, or
weed-free hay to areas where feed is limited or grazing is not allowed.
- Remove (or scatter)
manure; Remove excess hay and straw.
- Use hitch lines, hobbles,
and pickets to constrain pack animals. Hobble or picket in dry areas.
- Tie to sturdy trees or
- Move picket pins and
temporary corrals several times per day.
- Hikers step off a trail
to let horses pass.
- Do not pick wildflowers.
Enjoy them where they are, then leave them for others to see.
- Keep noise down when you
are around other campers and hikers. Leave radios and tape players at
- Attempt to be as
courteous to others as possible. Excessive noise, unleashed pets, and
damaged surroundings distract from the quality experience in the
- Please remember that
visitors can help preserve these sites for future generations by not
disturbing them in any way.
The national “Leave No
Trace” program, which advocates leaving minimal impact while using an area
for recreation purposes, is another good source of information. This program
provides comprehensive information that can assist in achieving a stewardship
ethic. For more information, contact: The National Leave No Trace Program