How to Truly "Leave No Trace" While Hiking

Every nature lover & outdoors enthusiast has heard the phrase “Leave No Trace”...


But what does this truly mean? 


Well, simply put, this means that after you're done hiking or camping, there should be no trace that you were ever there.

This doesn’t mean you need to channel your inner ninja when you're in the woods; but rather to honor some simple principles that encompass etiquette, sustainability, and respecting the preservation of all the elements of nature.


the 7 key principles:

Here's how you can make a difference while enjoying this wonderful world out there...

7. STICK TO THE TRAIL

We know, sometimes it’s way more fun to hike off the trail! But when we’re talking about the leave no trace movement, it’s critical to stay on the designated path.

Hiking trails are very strategic in where they’re placed, and diverting off them can create problems with erosion that can last for hundreds of years after your footsteps have faded… Especially if it’s a popular walking area.
One or two people dipping off the path occasionally might not seem to be an issue, but when you consider the possibility that many others are doing the same, this can really add up over time and trample delicate ecosystems.

This applies to camping as well, so be sure to only travel and camp on durable surfaces. 
Try to set up your base in a designated campground where possible, and if you’re off the beaten path, be sure to choose a clearing on dirt or gravel to ensure your campsite footprint doesn’t leave a lasting mark.

6. DON'T DISTURB WILDLIFE


Keep nature wild. It can be super exciting to see wild animals when out on a beautiful hike. But do those animals a favor, and keep your distance (especially from the big ones!).  

This is always a good rule of thumb to keep both you and the wildlife safe. 

Never feed wild animals, even the cute ones. This can disrupt their natural foraging habits, and make them dependent on human interaction.

This also applies to our furry four-legged friends that we like to hike with. Dogs are great adventure companions, but it is important to keep them on a leash. They don’t care about disturbing the wildlife, chasing away animals, or digging up their burrows.


5. DISPOSE OF WASTE PROPERLY 


Perhaps the most important thing on the list is to take care of your garbage! No one wants to find trash out on our beautiful trails and parks; Not only is it an eyesore, but it pollutes the ecosystem's delicate balance.

Take along a secure bag to pack out all of your trash; and we mean all of it...

Don't forget to dispose of organic waste too: Any fruit peelings, food scraps and toilet paper if you’ll be camping- Even these biodegradable things can take years to fully break down.

PRO TIP: Cut down on waste to carry out by ditching the plastic cups and water bottles on your hiking and camping trips... Grab a Greens Steel Water Bottle and a BEAST Tumbler for your morning coffee instead, for years of leaving no trace out on the trail!

4. PLAN AHEAD AND PREPARE


Getting a heads-up about the weather conditions and doing some research on your route before heading out will help you leave no evidence you were there on your hike. 

You never know when you might come upon something unexpected when out in the wilderness, but that’s half of the fun of the adventure!

Hike responsibly by packing a first aid kit, a flashlight and a space blanket. That way, if you get injured or stuck somewhere waiting for rescue, you won’t need to damage the environment to create shelter, or light unnecessary fires to stay warm. 

Predicting any potential issues that may crop up and preparing accordingly will help you stay out of trouble and preserve the trail. 


3. TAKE ONLY PHOTOS & MEMORIES


Take nothing but photographs and memories, and leave nothing but footprints. The beautiful environment you’re enjoying is made up of all those little elements that combine to create it.

Don’t detract from nature's wonder for the next visitor by taking any souvenirs back with you such as rocks, seashells, or snake skins. 

Leave what you find out there for everyone to enjoy... Sorry to all the rock collectors out there!


2. MINIMIZE CAMPFIRE IMPACTS


Leaving no trace is especially important when it comes to fires. If you are going to have a fire while camping, make sure to use only previously constructed fire rings, and in areas where it’s allowed.

When searching for wood, use only dead wood you find on the ground. Don’t cut anything alive, including branches and trees.

1. BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHER HIKERS 


This wonderful earth and the beauty of nature is for all of us to enjoy in our own way. Being considerate of other visitors makes the pleasure of immersing ourselves in the outdoors so more enjoyable for everyone.

Keep your music in your headphones, let faster walkers pass you on the trail, and make way for downhill mountain bikers.


Hiking in nature is an extremely rewarding and satisfying hobby. It’s fantastic for both your mind and body, and there’s an incredible world out there for us all to explore.

Doing your part to Leave No Trace is an act of passing it forward to everyone else that will be exploring after you.

We only get one planet... So let's all work together to take care of it and keep it as wild as possible!


Aaron Greens Steel Outdoors Contributor

Greens Steel is a family company. Its roots are firmly planted in healthy living, ethical business models and a dedication to preserving our earth in its pristine beauty for many generations to come.