Leave No Trace Ethics

Increasing numbers of horseback riders are seeking solitude and adventure in our roadless backcountry. From the Great Smoky Mountains to the Bob Marshall Wilderness, people are loving these special places to death.

Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and inspiring responsible outdoor recreation and minimum impact wildland visitation through education, research and partnerships. Leave No Trace builds awareness, appreciation and respect for our wildlands. Practicing "Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics" when you visit the backcountry ensures that the area that you visited will be as pristine for the next person as it was for you, not to mention for the creatures that make that place their home.

So what is Leave No Trace? The seven Leave No Trace principles

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
    • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
    • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards and emergencies.
    • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
    • Visit in small groups. Split larger parties into groups of 4-6.
    • Repackage food to minimize waste.
    • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
  • Travel and Camp on Durable SurfacesRide single file to keep your impact to a minimum.
    • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
    • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
    • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
    • In popular areas, concentrate use on existing trails and campsites, walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy and keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
    • In pristine areas, disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails and avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
    • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter.
    • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
    • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
    • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
  • Leave What You Find
    • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
    • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
    • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
    • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Use a Fire Blanket or Fire Pan to prevent scarring the ground with a campfire.
    • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
    • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
    • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
    • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
  • Respect Wildlife
    • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
    • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
    • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
    • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
    • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors
    • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
    • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
    • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
    • Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
    • Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.

Information and materials on Leave No Trace principles are available for your area by calling 1-800-332-4100 or by visiting the Leave No Trace website at www.lnt.org.