The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace

Principle #1: Plan and Prepare

  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you plan to visit.
  • Prepare for rapidly changing weather, hazards, and unexpected emergencies.
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
  • Visit in small groups when possible.

Principle #2: Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include maintained trails and designated campsites, rock, gravel, sand, dry grasses, or snow.
  • Camp at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.

Principle #3: Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter.
  • Deposit human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, campsites, and trails.
  • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • Carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use biodegradable soap when doing dishes, laundry, and bathing.

Litter clean up crew on the Mount Major Service Day. Photos: Emily Lord/Forest Society and Leave No Trace.

Principle #4: Leave What You Find

  • Do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants, and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

Principle #5: Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Use a lightweight stove for cooking.
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
  • Only use dead wood from the ground that can be broken by hand when building a fire.

Principle #6: Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance and do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals.
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
  • Control pets at all times or leave them at home.

Principle #7: Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Take breaks and set up camp away from trails and other visitors.
  • Avoid loud voices and noises.

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