Leave No Trace – 7 Principles

    The Leave No Trace seven principles are the bedrock of the Leave No Trace program. They provide guidance to enjoy our natural world in a sustainable way that avoids human-created impacts. The principles have been adapted so they can be applied in your backyard or your backcountry.


    Plan Ahead and Prepare

    • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
    • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards and emergencies.
    • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
    • Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
    • Repackage food to minimize waste.
    • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.


    Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

    • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
    • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
    • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.

    In popular areas:

    • Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
    • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
    • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.

    In pristine areas:

    • Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
    • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.


    Dispose of Waste Properly

    • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
    • Deposit solid human waste in cat holes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
    • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
    • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.


    Leave What You Find

    • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
    • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
    • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
    • Do not build structures or furniture or dig trenches.


    Minimize Campfire Impacts

    • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
    • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
    • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
    • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.


    Respect Wildlife

    • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
    • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
    • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
    • Control pets at all times or leave them at home.
    • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.


    Be Considerate of Other Visitors

    • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
    • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
    • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
    • Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
    • Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.


    Leave No TraceVisit www.lnt.org to learn more about Leave No Trace program.
    Copyright: The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.