Leave no Trace – Travel and camp on durable surfaces

The Leave No Trace foundation is a national organization that helps to protect the land, flora, and fauna, by teaching people to be responsible when they get outdoors.  One of their major tools is a set of seven principles (not laws) that help people to make better decisions in the outdoors.

The first of these, I covered last week – Plan ahead and prepare.

The second of the seven LNT principles is, “Travel and camp on durable surfaces.”

What counts as a durable surface?

  • established trails and campsites
  • rock
  • gravel
  • dry grasses
  • snow

When you are traveling on an established trail, walk single-file in the middle of the trail to concentrate your impacts on the most durable surfaces.

If you come to a mudhole, walk straight through it instead of around it, because if you walk around it, you can widen it and it might eventually become a wash or an erosion problem.

When traveling mountain trails, do not cut switchbacks.


What is not a durable surface?  Any pristine environment, like –

  • grasslands – where you might trample plants or create erosion problems
  • riversides – where you can more easily pollute waterways and create erosion problems
  • live coral

If you do have to walk through a non-durable environment, disperse your group so that you do not concentrate your impacts and create a new trail.


Categories: Conservation, Nature

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