top of page
  • Writer's picturePublic Lands Hate You

Leave No Trace Principle #2 – Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces

***Posted to the @PublicLandsHateYou Instagram account on 8/7/2019***

Leave No Trace Principle #2 – Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces

Obviously part of Leave No Trace is… leaving no trace. When you travel through an area, the people who come after you shouldn’t be able to tell you were even there.

Trails are created by land management agencies to concentrate impacts and are designed and constructed to reduced erosion, avoid sensitive areas, and provide a convenient means for us to move through our public lands. Trails should be used whenever possible and not shortcut or widened for convenience. In areas without trails one should always travel on the most durable surface available even if it isn’t the most convenient. The surfaces below cover many off trail hiking situations:

Rock, sand, gravel - Most durable (except for lichens)

Ice/snow – Most durable

Forest Understory – Durability varies, avoid sensitive areas

Vegetation – Durability varies, avoid vegetation whenever possible, off trail groups should disperse impacts by spreading out

Living Soil – Not durable, avoid if possible, but if not, walk single file to minimize impacts

Desert puddles/mud holes – Always avoid

Regarding campsites, @leavenotracecenter says it best:

“Selecting an appropriate campsite is perhaps the most important aspect of low-impact backcountry use. It requires the greatest degree of judgment and information, and often involves making trade-offs between minimizing ecological and social impacts. A decision about where to camp should be based on information about the level and type of use in the area, the fragility of vegetation and soil, the likelihood of wildlife disturbance, an assessment of previous impacts, and your party’s potential to cause or avoid impact.”

When selecting a campsite, choose one that is already highly impacted and won’t show signs of additional use. If that is not an option, camp should be set up on the most durable surface available and moved every night to avoid creating a permanent impact. Campsites should be located at least 200’ from water sources unless camping in a river corridor with no developed campsites.

There are clearly MANY nuances to this Principle. I encourage you to get additional details from @leavenotracecenter.

75 views0 comments


bottom of page