Leave No Trace Seven Principles

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A nonprofit organization called Leave No Trace is dedicated to securing a sustainable future for the environment and the outdoors.

Basically, it is a set of Int principles or guidelines on how we can preserve nature as we found them. It is a framework of best practices that helps us make responsible decisions when spending time outdoors. As there are millions of outdoor visitors, the cumulative impact can take a toll on wildlife. So, responsible travel is a vital part of preserving our ecosystems.

Table of Contents

Principle 1:

Plan Ahead and Prepare

Leave No Trace

From the 7 Leave No Trace Principles, the first important step is to research upfront. You will thank yourself to know the regulations of your destination, instead of traveling miles and be shocked that you cannot camp without a permit. Some destinations have a limit on the group size to avoid overcrowding.

If you want to avoid the crowds, schedule your trips during non-peak seasons.

Be aware of the weather ahead of you. If it will be wet, be sure that you have waterproof your tent and that your rainfly has full coverage. Prepare in case there is extreme weather, and you may need the extra layers to protect you from the cold. Depending on the temperature, you may want to bring a tent heater or tent air conditioner when camping. Read here for Tips: for How to Set Up A Tent.

Learn how to read a topographic map. This is so you will know what to anticipate in your hike, whether there will be terrains, depressions, or bodies of water ahead of you. Follow the marked trails instead of deviating into unexplored paths. 


Prepare an emergency first aid kit and learn how to perform basic first aid. Ensure your phone is fully charged before you leave. Carry an extra battery pack just in case.


Read here for Tips for 10 Hiking Essential For Beginners.


Principle 2:

Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces

Camp on durable surfaces (2)

If a trail or campsite exists, then stick to the same trail instead of creating a new one. This prevents travel damage on untouched vegetation or organisms. If there is a muddy patch on the trail, walk a single file through it, stay on the trail. Avoid going too close to an edge. There are many incidents of Instagrammers who fall to their death trying to take that one good photo at the ledge. 

If you do stop and camp, focus on resilient types of terrains such as rock, gravel, dry grass, or snow. When camping, look for spaces where vegetation is already absent and keep your activities in smaller proximity. If you plan to camp near a river or stream, do it at least 200 feet away from the water source. 

Wherever you go, leave it as how it should look like as if you were never there. 

Principle 3:

Dispose of Waste Properly

dispose waste properly

It is important to pack out all your own trash. If you brought trash in, you are responsible to take it out. Leave nothing behind. Food scraps, although it is biodegradable takes time to degrade. Buried garbage will still attract animals to dig it out. 

If there is a bathroom, use it. Otherwise do your business in a “cat hole” further away from any water source. Pack out your toilet paper and hygiene products into a doggy bag. In some fragile protected areas, it is necessary to pack out human waste. There are pack-out waste bag systems that you can check out.

When using soap, even biodegradable, do it away from shorelines. This is because these chemicals can affect water quality. 

When doing the dishes, do it 200 feet from the water source. Throw the strained dishwater over dirt and pack out your food scraps.  

Principle 4:

Leave What You Find

leave what you find

It is so tempting to pick wildflowers or rocks you see on your adventures. If every visitor does the same, there would be a significant impact on the environment. Allow others a sense of discovery and we are playing an important role in preserving the past.

You can look, take a picture but do not take anything. Do not move rocks, pick on flowers, collect shells, or carve your initials on rocks or trees.  Remember, we are respecting the rights of other users outdoors as well as our future generations.

View More Outdoor Tips

Principle 5:

Minimize Campfire Impacts

minimize campfire impact

Pay attention to restrictions, check if there is a fire ban. With raging forest fires and for safety reasons no wood fires are allowed in many campsites. Furthermore, certain sites do not allow you to transport firewood due to bug concerns. However, many will be surprised to find that most campgrounds allow the usage of propane fire pits. They are a safer option and require no wood, leaving no trace.

If there is a designated fire pit, build your fire in the existing fire ring. Use only local firewood instead of firewood from home. Look for wood from dead trees or fallen limbs. Avoid cutting branches from standing trees. Keep your fires small. Be sure you completely put out the fire with water before you leave camp. 

If you want to cook in the fastest way, use a lightweight stove. It has become essential for minimum impact camping. They are operatable in almost any weather condition.

Principle 6:

Respect Wildlife

Respect Wildlife

When outdoors, remember you are in their home. Observe them from a safe distance and do not approach or interact with them. Avoid touching them, especially young ones as they may be abandoned by their parents. Give animals a wide berth, especially during sensitive times like mating and nesting seasons. Be quiet, as you do not want to scare them.

Never feed wildlife. It is unhealthy and it will lead to negative repercussions. Store your food securely, and pack up your food scraps. Allow animals access to water sources, by camping 200 ft away from them.

Watch your dogs. Never allow your dogs to chase the wildlife.


Principle 7:

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Be considerate

To maintain a peaceful and considerate outdoor environment, it’s important to keep noise levels low. Since sound can travel quite far, it’s best to keep the volume down. It’s also important to be mindful that other people may be outside to escape noise, so please be considerate of others and keep noise to a minimum.

When hiking, be aware of your surroundings. Yield for the others to pass through. Groups leading should have the right of way on trails.  Be courteous to others, this helps everyone enjoy their outdoors better. 

Ensure the colors of your clothing blend with the environment.

Check if you are allowed to bring pets. Certain areas require you to put your dogs on leashes. Keep your pets under control and remember to pick up after your dog’s feces. 


Especially during the pandemic, wear a mask and maintain a social distance from others. 


These 7 Principles Of Leave No Trace are low-impact behaviors we can all follow to preserve the health of mother nature. 

For more information on Leave No Trace principles, please visit their website www.leavenotrace.org

Picture of Jules and Ken

Jules and Ken

We are outdoor lovers, travelers, and writers all rolled into one. You have seen our posts here reviewing lots of different types of outdoor gear, camping equipment, kayaking to cycling. Our reviews are guided by our years of experience being outdoors. We are happy to share our knowledge with you so that you can make a better choice when you are outdoors.

We hope you enjoyed this article and if you have questions about Leave No Trace, or want to leave your own personal review, feel free to leave a comment below.

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