Never Leave a Trace

More people are visiting our public lands than ever before, and many places are showing the human-induced wear and tear. Understanding and practicing Leave No Trace is more important than ever.

When hiking or backpacking, whether it’s urban wilds or real-deal Wilderness, put in the extra effort to limit your impacts on the land and other visitors with these Leave No Trace standards.

  1. Pack out all your trash and any left by others.
  2. Respect wildlife and don’t feed them.
  3. Don’t harsh on the mellow vibe of other nature lovers.
  4. Never leave human waste or toilet paper on the ground. Learn how to burry your waste properly (away from water). Better yet, pack it all out or find a restroom.
  5. Don’t collect or disturb native plants or other interesting bits of the natural world.
  6. Limit campfires to conserve downed wood and lower chances of burning the place up. Watch the stars and night sky instead.
  7. Plan ahead to avoid emergency violation of Leave No Trace principles. This could happen, for instance, if you forget your stove fuel, forcing you to cook over a campfire where it’s not allowed.
  8. Camp and travel on designated paths and campsites to avoid hacking and tromping your own way through virgin forest or desert.

Learn more about Leave No Trace principles at

Originally published as “Leave No Trace More Important Than Ever” in the May-June 2022 issue.

Bad backcountry kharma! Leave no trace. Especially toilet paper. // Photos: Shallan Knowles

Find more stories about backcountry travel and Leave No Trace ethics and practices and in the OTO topic archives.

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