The Importance of the “Leave No Trace” Principle and How You Can Help

The “Leave No Trace” principle is important for everyone, but especially for those who enjoy the outdoors. By following this principle, we can help keep our parks and wilderness areas clean and pristine.

From my first hike, I’ve been fascinated with discovering and exploring new mountain ranges. Experience breathtaking sights and natural wonders. Then I realized: I want my children to experience all of this and so much more. As a traveler, I am devoted to environmental protection and conservation, as well as educating fellow travelers. But how can we do so if we don’t even have access to learn about it?

The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace

It is a principle that emphasizes on respecting the environment and committing to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. Simply put, it’s the best practices we should follow to enjoy and protect our natural spaces.

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dispose of waste properly.
  4. Leave what you find.
  5. Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire).
  6. Respect wildlife.
  7. Be considerate of other visitors.

There are a few simple things you can do to help support the Leave No Trace principle:

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Understand the regulations and special concerns for the place you will be visiting.
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and disasters.
  • Plan your trip to avoid peak periods.
  • When possible, visit in small groups. Consider dividing bigger groupings into smaller ones.
  • Repackage food to reduce waste.
  • To avoid the usage of marking paint, rock cairns, or flags, use a map and compass.

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 catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails.
  • Cover and disguise the cathode 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, furniture, or dig trenches.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the back country. 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 (in other countries).

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.

For more information you may visit LNT.Org

Polly Amora

Polly Amora is the señorita behind GoldenIslandSenorita.Net. A corporate warrior by day, and a perpetual explorer by heart. She is a lifelong learner who is very outgoing, speaks four languages, loud & outspoken, and loves to have adventures in the mountains, on the beach, and in the city. You can throw her anywhere, and she'll handle it like a pro. Ice cream and bourbon are two of her weaknesses.


  1. You, Me and Benny

    I love this so much! Sometimes people are not respectful to others who are visiting places when they are and it stinks!

  2. I work at an NGO and totally agree with everything that you just said. Hills have this problem because trash doesn’t decompose. People need to learn and work on better ways to reduce the problem.

  3. I have seen people leaving trash behind making the place worse! Especially in beaches! This is such a great post!

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