Woman in woods looking at trees

On The Trail: Protecting Nature

The scope and beauty of nature can be breathtaking and is good for the soul. Hiking is a great way to reconnect with nature and experience its beauty firsthand. But in order to keep the wilderness wild and safe for everyone to enjoy, it is important to protect nature when out on a hike. Anywhere you are hiking or camping, but especially in national parks, make sure to respect the trail and your surroundings. Here are some ways to protect nature while hiking and camping.

1. Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace is the golden rule of hiking. When out on the trail, you should leave everything the way you found it or even cleaner by picking up any trash you may find. Take anything that you bring in with you back out. This not only applies to leaving trash but also taking souvenirs. Avoid taking rocks, plants, or flowers that you find along the trail.

Another way to keep nature safe is to stay on the trails. The designated trails are designed for hiking, but other areas of nature are not. Don’t stray off the trails; this may damage the plant and animal life. The more people following an off-trail path, the more wildlife is harmed, leading to erosion. Wandering off the path is also an effective way to get lost in the woods.

2. Respect Animals

While hiking, you are likely to come across animals such as birds, squirrels, or rabbits, but occasionally you may find larger animals like bears, moose, or deer. If you come across an animal, be sure to keep your distance for both your sake and the animals’. Animals living in their natural habitats should be left alone and respected. Be careful not to frighten them which could cause them to flee their habitats and leave behind their young. You should also avoid feeding any animal as this could make them sick.

A deer with antlers in a field Description automatically generated with medium confidence

3. Be Careful with Fires

Another way to protect nature is by preventing forest fires. When making a fire in the wild, be extra careful to keep the fire from getting out of control. Keep fires small and make sure your fire is far enough away from brush and trees. Don’t leave the area until your fire is completely extinguished with no sparks remaining.

4. Keep Water Clean

When hiking, it’s best to bring your own reusable water bottle. Plastic water bottles contribute to water pollution and landfill buildup, making reusable bottles a healthier option for Mother Nature. If you are filtering natural water to drink, make sure to keep the source clean by avoiding

contamination. Don’t put any chemicals or trash into natural water sources and use biodegradable soap if you are washing dishes.

5. Clean Your Boots

Your boots will most likely get dirty on the trail and can be a mode of transport for seeds or insects. Your boots or hiking gear may also introduce invasive species to new areas and damage to the ecosystem there. Before and after hiking, wash your boots and gear or wipe them down to avoid transporting any invasive species.

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