As outdoor enthusiasts, campers, climbers, hikers, explorers and adventurers, we all know that it’s important to respect the land. And we know that our actions today are key to the enjoyment of the great outdoors for generations to come. But it’s all too easy to get into bad habits, often without even knowing that we are doing anything wrong. So to make sure everyone is on the same page, and to reinforce the importance of doing (or not doing) the small things, the Leave No Trace Principles exist.
How good are you at sticking to the guidance of these principles? And do you know enough to really say that you leave no trace when you are out in the wild?
Well let’s see shall we?
The Leave No Trace Principles Quiz
This simple Leave No Trace quiz should have you scoring 10/10. And if not, then you need to skip to the bottom and get scrubbing up on your knowledge of the Leave No Trace Principles before you next head out into the wild.
You’re out in the wild and nature calls. What do you do?
- Nip behind the nearest tree so that no one can see you, do your business and cover it with a rock
- Choose a spot near a stream or river so that you can clean up without using toilet paper
- Dig a deep hole away from water, fill it in afterwards, and take your toilet paper with you
When building a campfire in the backcountry, the best wood to gather is:
- Dead sticks and twigs that are on the ground
- Large dead branches from trees or the ground
- Green sticks and twigs pulled from trees
Who is exempt from the Leave No Trace Principles?
- Lone hikers
- Small children
- None of the above
Which of the following is NOT a Leave No Trace Principle:
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Be considerate of other visitors
- Reduce your impact on the land by travelling alone
When wild camping, should you:
- Camp close to other people to confine the impact on the land to a smaller area
- Camp away from other people and trails
- Camp near to trails so other people are aware that you are there
Which of the following is a Leave No Trace Principle?
- Wait until you are away from other people until you start shouting and making loud noises
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches
- If you come across litter cover it up
When planning a trip, should you:
- Choose to go at the busiest times to concentrate the use
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards and emergencies
- Wait until you get there to see what regulations and special concerns apply to the area you are visiting
You’ve reached a muddy section of the trail. What should you do?
- Walk straight through it
- Walk around it even it means treading on some plants
- Find some rocks and sticks to build stepping stones through it
You’ve been lucky enough to get close to a small wild animal. Should you:
- Entice it closer to you with food to get a better look
- Make a loud noise to discourage it from human contact
- Quietly watch if from a distance
Cooking on a gas stove is worse for the land than cooking on a campfire?
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
01Plan 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 minimizse waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
02Travel 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.
03Dispose 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 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.
04Leave 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.
05Minimize 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.
- 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.
07Be 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 detailed information about the Leave No Trace Principles and how you can do more to protect our wild places, check out lnt.org.