Ways to Minimize Your Impact on the Trail

Ways to Minimize Your Impact on the Trail
Outdoor sports enthusiasts are typically very environmentally-aware. If they weren't, they wouldn't be out in the wilderness in the first place. Minimizing our impact on trails ensures that the trails will maintain their character and beauty for other users to enjoy. A few thoughtful steps will help you keep your trail impact to a minimum.

Keep it Clean

Carry in, carry out. This is an obvious one but it is easy to overlook or make excuses. Don't leave garbage, food, or food containers on the trail or anywhere in the woods. Also, don't leave your pet feces behind. Clean it up and dispose of it properly.

Stay on the Trail

There is no trail obstacle that should cause you to walk off the trail. If the trail is too muddy or wet, perhaps you should turn around. If it's just a small area of mud, walk through it. Walking off trail or creating shortcuts widens the trail and can be harmful to the surrounding plant life.

Don't Take Anything

Don't take anything from the natural environment, unless you're cleaning up what doesn't belong. As pretty as those exotic flower are, they belong right where they are, flourishing for others to enjoy.


Read and adhere to any trail rules and regulations. Though they may or may not impede your plans, trail rules are there for good reason. If the trail is closed, it may be too muddy or snow-covered to hike. Following the rules will benefit the trail as well as you.

Human Waste

Bury any waste at least 6 inches deep. Be sure that it is 200 feet or more away from any water source, trail or campground. Carry out toilet paper and other hygiene products.


If you're using a vehicle, practice safe, low-impact techniques. Do not skid out on turns and stay in the middle of the trail without veering off. Maintain control at all times. Yield to hikers and equestrians. If a trail is too muddy, avoid riding it until it dries.


Always respect other trail users. Low impact isn't just on the physical trail, but also the overall environment. Don't yell and make a lot of noise. Keep respectful of the peace and tranquility that nature offers.

Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

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